Design-Build: What it is and What it ISN'T

I’ve been noticing a lot of contractors with the title “design-build” in their company name. When I saw how many there were initially, I was excited and motivated. What a wonderful solution for building owners- to be able to hire one company who can completely manage their project from start to finish, have a keen eye on the costs as they design, and an equally keen eye on design as they build. I reached out to a few of these firms, and was astonished to find that most of them do not have a designer on staff!

If you don’t have a designer on staff, how do you offer design-build services?

I was so puzzled. Without a designer, that is just “build”, right? Well, different places had different answers, but they all came down to two very distinct responses.

  1. We work WITH designers- would you be interested in working with us, Rachel?

  2. We do the drawings here, because we have drafting skills.

Sigh… sure, I’ll work with you. But, I work with builders, and I wouldn’t feel right calling myself a “design-build” firm. Furthermore, the companies that work with designers don’t actually pay the designers. The owner is back to the same old situation of hiring a designer and hiring a contractor. Not really the convenience they were led to believe existed.

Now, drafting up a plan and calling oneself a designer does not necessarily a designer make. Looking at many houses, building others’ designs, and having self-declared good taste does not a designer make. Unless a designer AND a builder are under one roof, the firm is not a design-build firm.

Man Who's Been In A Bunch Of Buildings Figures He'd Be A Pretty Good Architect

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA-Claiming he has "taken a good, long look" at houses, hospitals, churches, and other structures intended for human use or habitation, retail associate Arnold Drucker, 32, said Tuesday that since he has been in or near a great number of buildings, he assumes he would be a pretty good architect.