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General Contractor vs. Design-Build Contractor

So you’ve decided to build a new commercial space and now need to get the project from concept to construction.

Traditionally, you would hire a general contractor to execute your project. In today’s modern world, however, you have the option of hiring a design-build contractor instead. Both options have their benefits and challenges - figuring out which works best for you depends on what services you need for your project. 

What is a General Contractor/Traditional Design-Bid-Build

The traditional design process is also known as the design-bid-build method. This method involves multiple different companies coming together to execute one project. The process begins when a client goes to a design team, architect, or consultant to design the project they have in mind. After the project design is complete, a General Contractor, who participated in the design process or was hired after the fact, sends out requests to different subcontractors who can then bid to provide their services for the project and win the contract. 

The General Contractor will select reliable sub-contractors that can work within the set-upon budget to win the bid and work on the project. The General Contractor will also be in charge of overseeing and managing the subcontractors on the construction site. 

This traditional method offers the client greater control over the project design. As such, this method is still preferred for more creative or innovative projects - making it the method most commonly used for residential projects. 

While allowing for increased creativity, the design-bid-build method is often costlier than the design-build method due to the number of subcontractors hired to complete the project, especially if certain aspects of the design are highly specialized. It can also take longer due to the coordination of different schedules. 

What is a Design-Build Contractor

A Design-Build Contractor differs from a General Contractor as they usually provide full in-house design and budgeting for the construction project or they work with a specific design team, including architects/consultants, to develop a turnkey solution for the customer’s project. 

A turnkey solution is a solution that is considered ready for immediate use, meaning there may not be room for as much specialization as with the traditional design-build-method, but the Design-Build Contractor will work to find the most suitable option for the client. 

Once a design or a turnkey solution is selected for the project, the Design-Build Contractor will utilize a combination of inhouse trades and some relational sub-trades that bid on the project based on the scope or specifications of the project, and their ability to complete the job with the highest degree of quality outcome for the client. 

Having design and construction teams work on a project from its inception can alleviate extras found in the traditional process that can result in increased costs. The design-build method often results in a more streamlined process than its counterpart. 

Additionally, it can result in the project being streamlined and increased cohesion on the construction team, as there are more opportunities for concurrent work.

Check out Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction’s design-build projects.

Other Benefits of Design-Builds Include:

Cost. According to K-Con Inc., using the design-build strategy for your project over the design-bid-build can lead to savings of 5.2%. 

Adaptability. Design-build contractors have an easier time adapting to sudden project changes due to the level of collaboration from all individuals working on the project from start to finish. With design-bid-build projects, changes in the project can lead to mistakes or delays in the project. 

Quality. Since design-build contractors often retain the same employees, there is often a high degree of consistent work for all aspects of the project. 

Limited Owner-Risk. The design-build method also means there is less risk to the client because there is only one point of accountability, as the design-build company is responsible for the entirety of the project. 

Confused as to which process is best for your upcoming project? Let us help you get your dream design from conception to completion. Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction are experienced in both traditional and design-build methods, meaning we can help no matter what method you choose. 

Contact Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction to find out how we can help you with your next construction project.