Building a new home, or remodeling your existing home, is a huge investment. For most people, it is the biggest investment they will ever make. So, when you do decide to invest in this asset, it's important to explore the process and understand your options. In the ever-evolving landscape of construction and development, the traditional approach of hiring separate entities for design and construction phases is gradually giving way to a more streamlined and efficient model: the design-build team approach.
Design-build firms, where the design and construction teams work collaboratively under a single contract, offer a plethora of benefits that can significantly impact the success of a project. As an Interior Designer who has worked in both facets of construction projects, I have shared my experience below, including why I prefer the design-build model and how we utilize the advantages of it in our own business.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
One of the primary advantages of opting to work with a design-build firm is the seamless collaboration between the design and construction teams. When I work with a client who has hired their architect, designer, and contractor separately, they are basically asking three separate professionals to work together as a team when they are, in fact, not a team. Unexpected issues always come up on projects, and when you don't have a team under one contract, it could potentially lead to disputes between the professionals, where you get stuck in the middle.
The collaborative design-build team approach encourages open communication, efficient problem-solving, and a unified vision for the client. My husband, Travis, and I have spent years fine-tuning our processes in an effort to improve our client experience. Granted, there are always hiccups and mistakes can happen. Knowing that we are on the same team helps us work together to quickly to resolve any issues that might arise - preferably before the issue is even addressed with our client.
Time is Money, Honey
Time is money, and nowhere is this more true than in the realm of construction and design. One aspect of the design-build model that can really save you time and money is the preliminary budgeting phase. The biggest and single most important question from clients is always, "how much is it going to cost?" When you are working with a design professional, they don't always have that answer. They are designing based on the wants and needs brought to them by the client (also known as the program).
Calculating average square footage costs are always a good place to start, but depending on the program, these numbers can be off by a considerable amount. For example, the square footage cost of a kitchen is completely different from a living room or bedroom.
What if you want a really cool unique feature in your home, like a desertscape, or a two story water wall? It's always helpful to get into the budget prior to the detailed design development phase. When I am brought into a project after a contractor has been selected and the construction budget has been approved, I often discover that the project was bid with bare bones neccessities and unrealistic allowances for fixtures and finishes. Projects are bid with a focus on offering a lower price than competitors, rather than demonstrating a design direction and an understanding of the level of quality that a client expects for their investment.
At B Street, our process includes your traditional concept and preliminary design phase. However, prior to the design development phase, we do a round of detailed budgeting to break down estimated costs in detail. You can see where we expect our numbers to be, which allows you to clearly understand where costs are highest in your design. We can explore how to potentially cut back before we select the finishes and fixtures or draw up detailed elevations. Once the budget is approved, we move forward into design development. Then, pricing is updated as the design drawings are developed.
Pro Tip: I have found what clients want almost always costs more than they would LIKE to spend. Knowing that before the design has been substantially completed helps to keep the budget going towards the home itself, not towards soft costs.
The design-build model also encourages a proactive approach to problem-solving. There are times during the design phase when I know what I want a design to look like, but I don't always know how to achieve it. I find myself going to Travis often with the question, "how would you build this?" He sketches out a contruction detail, and I might make a few tweaks. Then, voila - you have a collaborative solution that employs both the expertise of the design professional and the wisdom of the person in charge of making it happen.
With design and construction professionals working together, potential issues can be identified and addressed early in the process. This collaborative problem-solving not only prevents setbacks in the project, but it also allows for innovative solutions that may not have been apparent with a more fragmented project delivery.
Quality Control and Accountability
Quality control is another critical aspect of any construction project, and most design-build firms are well-equipped to ensure high standards throughout the entire process. Regardless of who is at fault with a quality issue, a design-build firm bears all of the responsibility to fix it to the client's expectations and uphold their reputation.
At B Street, we take great pride in creating a unique and timeless design made from quality products and techniques that withstand the test of time. We have worked very hard to build long-lasting relationships with our trade partners in San Diego. Since we moved our business and family to Des Moines, we have been able to build new trade relationships and test quality through our own large home remodel/addition on 42nd street. We will be sharing more on the remodel in future posts, so stay tuned!
Flexibility and Adaptability
I have yet to work on a project where there are no changes at all, especially in remodels. Whether it's adjustments to project scope, alterations to the design, or modifications to accommodate unexpected site conditions, the integrated teams within a design-build firm can quickly and effectively respond to those changes. Nothing is worse than discovering that an on-site tradesperson made decisions on their own just to get something done, instead of consulting with the design team and project super about the BEST solution. Getting things done quickly is important, but at B Street, we also value getting it done right, so that it doesn't have to be redone.
The Holistic Approach of a Design-Build Team
I could go on and on about the benefits of working with a design-build team, but in an effort to not write a novel, I will be succinct. Simply put, working with a design-build team provides a better client experience. From seamless collaboration and time and cost savings to enhanced communication and accountability, the design-build approach offers a holistic approach to your home remodel or new build. Clients can unlock the full potential of their vision and see it materialize with greater efficiency and success by embracing this integrated approach.
If you have a project in the works and would like to learn more about our design-build services at B Street, don't hesitate to contact us. With a location in Des Moines, Iowa, we take on residential design and construction projects in the neighborhoods of Linden Heights, Waterbury, South of Grand, Salisbury Oaks, Greenwood, Urbandale, Waveland Park, West Des Moines, Glen Oaks, Waukee, and more. We also take on design projects of all sizes through our trusted design associate, Sterling, in San Diego.