Ask the Expert: Design-Build Process

Andrew Forman, licensed architect and owner of Blueprint808 Architecture, shares all you need to know about this streamlined home project process.
Photo: Courtesy of Blueprint808 Architecture

One of the major decisions you’ll have to make before starting your home build or renovation journey is whether to go with the conventional design-bid-build or the innovative design-build process. While both have advantages, design-build has the edge over the traditional design-bid-build strategy, says Andrew Forman of Blueprint808 Architecture. He outlines the design-build process and how you can benefit from working with a united team.

Q: What is the design-build process?

A: Design-build is an approach to a project where a team inclusive of the client, designer and builder works together from the very beginning, from design through completion of construction. To put this into perspective, with the traditional approach known as design-bid-build, the client and designer design a project, obtain bids, and finally contract with the builder and complete the construction.  

Q: How can homeowners determine if the design-build process is right for them?

A: I would suggest that the design-build process is right for everyone. The homeowners’ greatest benefit from this process is a comprehensive understanding of all critical factors in designing and building, every step of the way. It starts with architect expertise combined with input from the builder during design (constructability, budget, schedule being of particular importance). The construction phase continues with comprehensive understanding from the builder all while receiving input and communication from the designer through construction. At its best the design-build process builds confidence, trust and eliminates worry.  

Q: Do you have any suggestions for homeowners looking into hiring a design-build team?

A: It is important to differentiate a design-build firm from a design-build team. In a design-build firm, the designer and builder are employed by the same company. I would always recommend a homeowner work with a design-build team; this partnership integrates separate designers and builders that have experience working together and share a common goal with the client. At Blueprint808 Architecture, we have teamed with some builders upward of 25 times, ensuring trust and experience.

Q: How does the team work together?

A: The team is formed at the very beginning of the process. Regardless of whom the homeowner initially reaches out to, any experienced builder or architect will easily be able to recommend a partner they trust and recommend working with. At Blueprint808 Architecture, we have three to four builders that we have vast experience with and trust completely and will recommend based on a best fit for the project. During design, we receive constant feedback from the builder and hold several milestone team meetings to make sure we are on track with constructability, budget and schedule before proceeding. Once the design is in line with everyone’s expectations, it’s on to the next phase: completing the permitting and assisting the homeowner and builder with finalizing a contract. Once construction commences, the builder is in constant communication with 
the designer.

Categories: Ask the Experts, Expert Advice