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– By Rich Lewandowski, Design Project Manager

What are the limitations of hiring a design/build contractor versus an architect/engineer and a separate general contractor for your next construction project?

If done properly, the hiring of a design/build contractor provides endless opportunities and the potential for great success of not only the contractor but most importantly the client whom the project is being constructed for. Why is that, you ask? By its own label, design/build places the ownership for both aspects of construction upon the shoulders of ONE responsible party under ONE contract. Hiring an architect/engineer and a separate general contractor in what is considered by many to be the more conventional method of construction initiates the project with an immediate divide … a divide of responsibility that could potentially result in the proverbial disagreements one hears about on many construction projects.

This does not mean that the design/build contractor necessarily carries the financial burden of all the staff required to complete this process. Especially when the construction market is so diverse in terms of the types of construction (steel and glass, masonry supporting structures, “stick-built” wood construction, etc.) and the many different end-uses for a facility (retail, restaurant, healthcare, storage, etc.), it is important for a design/build contractor to position themselves with a TEAM of individuals that have experience in varying disciplines. In that sense, the design/build contractor develops a business which is built on relationships … relationships with Architects/Engineers and various subcontractors which have a concentrated background in the required disciplines to develop the project. They tend to surround themselves with numerous professionals of varying disciplines in an effort to keep that “gap” of what they do not specialize in very small in comparison to that in which they do.

Taken one step further, these relationships with architects/engineers and subcontractors then extend to the level of the client whom the project is being built for … there needs to exist a “fit” between all parties. When this happens, the probability of not seeing eye to eye decreases exponentially. Now you have a TEAM of individuals who know how to and have built their businesses on working together instead of independently. That positive environment even has a tendency to trickle down into the client’s business environment and they begin to reap benefits other than the completion of a much desired construction project. That in essence is the limitless opportunity of choosing the route of design/build construction over the more conventional method for your next construction process.


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