Barry Smith of Casas del Oso Luxury Homes embraced Design/Build construction many years ago after initially doing business the traditional Architect Builder method. In the traditional manner of building clients would first go to an architect or designer to design their homes. Then they would come to the builder with a set of plans asking for a price. More often then not the plans would be incomplete with inadequate specifications. After filling in the missing data clients would be shocked at the cost of construction. No one was involved in the design who understood current construction costs. Usually this meant the plans had to be changed to deduct costs this of course resulted in additional design costs to the client and wasn’t always successful in reducing the construction costs completely. Often the clients abandoned their plans to build. Our industry is littered with these stories.
Design/Build is a project delivery system that has been used in commercial construction for decades successfully. This system provides the owner with a single source for responsibility & communication. In design/build one entity usually the general contractor or builder has the responsibility for designing and building the project. Many general contractors hire an architectural firm or designer to design the project and oversee the design. Casas del Oso is one of the few companies that does design in house. Clients find that Design/Build is faster, allows them to have more input, and results in projects that come in on budget. They will never find themselves on their jobsite standing between the general contractor & architect pointing fingers at each other, which by the way almost always results in additional costs to the owner to resolve the problem.
The trick to using Design/Build successfully is to find a talented builder who will be involved in overseeing the construction & budget decisions during design and then will see that they are seamlessly integrated during construction. Watch out for builders who claim to be Design/Build and subcontract the design with no further involvement. There are many companies who do this; it is not Design/Build.
At Casas del Oso most clients come already owning a lot and with a good idea of what they would like to build. We spend time interpreting & understanding that vision and their budget. The budget is a driver all the way thru. Preliminary floor plans, elevations & budget are prepared following many discussions. The client approves the preliminary design and budget. Then full construction documents (plans & specifications) & the final construction budget are completed. The submittals to the Homeowner’s Association and City permitting are dovetailed into this process. Many things can happen simultaneously. The end result is a home that the clients love and have been intimately involved in during design that comes in at the price they wanted to pay, in a short amount of time. Then the real fun starts; we break ground and they see all of their design decisions take shape and become the home they dreamed.