The Better Way to Build: The Benefits of Design-Build Construction

Written By Dow Smith, Owner of Dow Smith Company and member of the NACDB

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What business wouldn’t want to choose a building process that offers opportunities to save money, to reduce construction time, to allow customization, to optimize quality, and to streamline the entire experience?

No hands raised in the audience? That comes as no surprise to all of us at Dow Smith Company. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients since 1992, and those are key advantages that every one of our clients has valued.

Today, we’re pleased to be regarded as Middle Tennessee’s expert in a process loaded with many intrinsic benefits. Known as “Design-Build,” its cost efficiency, time savings, and collaborative nature have made it popular among clients for everything from commercial and municipal buildings to sports facilities, churches, restaurants, manufacturing plants, medical facilities, and more.

How does it work?

Design-Build Single Contract | Dow Smith CompanyTo begin with, the design-build process is much more fluid than traditional design-bid-build, where the owner hires an architect to design a set of plans then puts the job out to bid. Instead of long gaps of time (and remember, time is money) between different phases of a project being completed by different participants, each member of a design-build team works together from the start and during every step of the process to help move things along quickly and more smoothly.

Design-build allows you to vet potential candidates based on experience, then dig into the details of your specific project. This design-build selection process often overlaps with the next phase—the pre-construction phase—since the design-builder team selected will likely have already done a significant amount of research and analysis of the construction site and other particulars of the project.

Notice that you’d be saving time even at the very beginning of the project.

This pre-construction step is critical. Attention to detail is paramount. This is when the design-builder will learn about the owner’s business, including goals, challenges, budget, and overall vision for the project. It’s a time for asking as many questions as necessary, so as to get a solid picture of what is expected to be delivered. Our clients tell us that they find this phase invaluable. This is when our experience can help you fine-tune plans based on what we have learned from more than 25 years of construction throughout Middle Tennessee. Efficiencies, added benefits, cost reductions, and enhancements have grown out of this collaborative, team-focused process.

During this phase, the owner, architects, engineers, contractors, and other consultants work together as a team to assess existing structures, electrical systems, HVAC systems, operational necessities, and more to determine what needs to be done before construction starts. These assessments allow for a thorough analysis of the construction site, which helps the design-build team maximize efficiency throughout the project.

At this stage, we view our work—together with you and the entire team—as an excellent opportunity to assess areas for cost savings and optimized productivity, while also meeting functional requirements and style preferences. We’ll leave no stone unturned when it comes to suggesting ways to save time, money, or logistical hassles. This process helps us deliver a building that suits your needs and schedule.

The overall project vision is established during this phase, and preliminary drawings are developed. Pricing estimates can be established during this phase as well, and a firm budget is provided. In addition, we’ll have a timeline for you so that you understand start and end dates, and every critical point in between. Our goal is to ensure that you find the construction experience as disruption-free as possible.

Bottom line: we have experienced that fewer design changes and mistakes are made due to miscommunication when design-build is employed. The increase in collaboration enables customization and innovation, which results in less time and fewer materials being wasted at each stage of the project. The result? A higher quality deliverable—with no surprises—ultimately resulting in increased satisfaction by the owner.

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