What is Design-Build?

The concept of Design/Build is not a new one. On the contrary, it is more of a return to the fundamentals of the old “Master Builder” concept, where a sole entity was responsible for a total project. Today, the hallmark of a design/build project is that from inception to completion, one professional oversees all aspects of a project – from design to construction and, in the case of landscaping projects, even follow-up maintenance.

Why should I use a Design/Build firm?

To an owner willing to delegate overall management of the project to someone other than himself, Design/Build offers several advantages. One of the primary benefits is the streamlining of the entire process – the design and construction processes are overlapped, eliminating what is customarily a lengthy process in the traditional design/bid/construction procedure. This ongoing interaction significantly reduces the overall project time, and has the potential to lower overall costs accordingly, as the construction costs are known earlier when using the Design/Build process. However, it is important to note that cost reduction is not the primary focus of Design/Build. An additional benefit of Design/Build is the increased accountability of a single service provider. The owner has one contact for the project who is responsible for the quality, budget and timeframe of the entire project. The owner looks to one entity with questions or concerns, and is allowed more flexibility in making changes that can be promptly incorporated into the design and construction. With Design/Build the burden of coordination between designer and builder is removed from the owner, thereby enabling him to focus entirely on timely decision-making to move his project to completion. As a rule the more complex the project, the more beneficial design/build becomes.

What is the owner’s role in the Design/Build process?

The property owner must have, and be able to communicate to the designer, an idea of not only the scope of the work to be performed on his property, but also an accurate representation of the intended uses of the property. It is only by fully understanding the owner’s “outdoor lifestyle” that the designer can create a landscape truly in tune with the owner’s needs. The client should have a clearly defined budget for the project, as well as an intended timeframe for project completion. Design/Build projects typically proceed much quicker than others, and in order to keep pace with tight production schedules, the owner must be ready and willing to make timely decisions regarding product or material choices. Ongoing communication is important throughout the Design/Build process, but to be successful, it is vital that the owner feels absolutely secure in the integrity, acumen, and competence of the Designer/Builder. The Design/Build approach can only be successful if the client has no desire or need to ‘micro-manage’ his own project.

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