Design / Build Contractor FAQs

1. WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER A DESIGN/BUILD GENERAL CONTRACTOR?

Typically, there are 3 ways to get a quote on the project you have in mind.

First, you could find a set of plans online that are exactly what you want, purchase and submit them to a few contractors along with a detailed set of specifications. You should then be prepared to discern if all of the contractors are bidding apples to apples.

Second, you could hire an architect and work through that process and either have the architect handle the bidding process or try to do it yourself, which is fairly complex. The architect brings many talents into the process and should be considered for high end projects. Their fees are usually a percentage of the projected cost.

Third, you could contact a Design/Build contractor and discuss your project. You should inquire about their experience and ask to see a few examples of their previous projects. The Design/Build builder can develop a sketch and provide a quote within a range of reasonable parameters.

2. DOES IT COST MONEY TO USE A DESIGN/BUILD CONTRACTOR?

Maybe and maybe not. There is a choice of ways a Design/Build builder can work with you. The most common way is to work with the builder to develop a sketch that reflects your initial design ideas and a price range. After that presentation, if it meets your budget and design, then the builder can provide you with a fixed cost final proposal for a turn key project including all plans necessary for permitting.

Another choice in working with a Design/Build builder can work with is to commission the builder to develop a set of plans detailed enough to attain permits and have the builder provide you with a fixed bid at that time. You have paid for the plans and are able to make them available to other bidders but. Be careful to compare bids and specifications closely as often other bidders are not as familiar with the conditions as the builder who developed the plans and can miss or change something to alter the price.

Bottom line what ever the cost of working with a Design/Build builder the amount of money that is saved will well exceed the cost of working with them.

3. DO I GET A SET OF PLANS IF I USE A DESIGN / BUILD BUILDER?

Only if you either pay for the plans or sign a contract to have the builder build the project. Design/Build builders don’t make money on drawing plans. They make their money on building the buildings. They offer this service to prospective customers for two reasons:

  • 1st – Builders know cost because they build every day and can use this knowledge in designing your building to use more cost effective materials and labor techniques in order to keep the cost down.
  • 2nd –  These builder’s plans are usually not a complete bidding set of plans, as such an architect can provide. Our plans are sufficient for the customer to see what they are getting and meet regulatory requirements to facilitate acquiring a building permit. A bid set of plans will often have many pages of detailed drawings and whole chapters of bidding requirements spelled out so that all of the bidders know exactly what is expected should they win the bid. This is only fair to all parties bidding a project but is not needed by a Design/Build builder because they already know how they will assemble these materials and their specifications will just spell out the types of materials they propose to use on your project.

4. WHAT IF I NEED THE PLANS TO GET A LOAN FOR MY PROJECT?

This is not uncommon. It isn’t reasonable to ask a Design/Build builder to spend time and money developing a set of plans in order to give you a quote and then ask for the plans without compensating the builder. If you sign the proposal contract–usually you will sign the plans and specifications at the same time with the builder and give the builder a deposit, as stated on the contract. If the financing doesn’t work out, then the builder is entitled to be compensated for the plans and expenses related to developing the project quote and will refund you the difference. We can’t build a building for you if you don’t have adequate financing. There should be a clause in the proposal that states that.

5. JUST HOW DOES THIS PROCESS WORK?

First, after interviewing the prospective Design/Build builder and checking to make sure they have the experience, ability, and creditability to handle your project, then ask the builder to meet with you and have your surveys and ideas ready to present.

Second, give this information to the builder and ask how long before you can meet again and what to expect at the next meeting. The builder may be able to give you a general range of pricing for this type of project at this time but only if this is not a one- of-a-kind project. You can also go online to http://www.swiftestimator.com/ or try http://buildingjournal.com/construction-estimating.html to view what your cost could be based on national average cost.

Third, If the budgetary number or design given at this meeting isn’t what you wanted then ask for another meeting and a refinement of either design or price or both. At this next meeting you should expect to have a proposal presented and be willing to either sign, hold for consideration, or walk away. You have expended little or no moneys up to this point. The builder has spend a great deal of time and money to research, design, and cost out this project up to this point. The builder has gambled with their time and money that they can give you a finished project that meets or exceeds your discussed criteria and regulatory requirements.

IMPORTANT

If you feel the builder doesn’t have the design or budget in line with your expectations, then consider contracting with the builder to provide you with another design and proposal for a design fee.