What is Design-Build?

When you wish to build a custom home, there are two broadly defined and distinct processes for bringing it to fruition. The traditional solution is general contracting, where one main contractor hires subcontractors to handle everything from architectural design to plumbing installation. Your alternative is the design-build process, a system that centralizes everything in a single contract with a single business.

Many choose the second approach because it streamlines the project and lowers costs. Before you elect to have a single company handle designing and building your custom home, you should understand the process and its benefits.

Start to Finish

In traditional construction contracting, no project is ever truly a single project. Instead, every element becomes a project unto itself. This adds people, time and expenses to even the smallest decisions.

Consider the basic challenge of putting everything into a wall, closing it and painting it. Anything that goes into the wall requires a separate subcontract. If the design calls for HVAC ducts, electrical wiring and plumbing lines in the wall, then there are three subcontractors before you’ve even closed the wall. Putting up drywall and then painting the wall means at least two more subcontractors. Also, a carpenter had to frame everything beforehand. Likewise, an architect designed the wall and an engineer may have assessed its expected integrity.

Using the design-build process, the contracting firm handles everything from start to finish. In-house architects do the design. In-house engineers assess the feasibility. In-house professionals execute the carpentry, HVAC, plumbing and electrical jobs. 

Collaboration, Coordination and Communication

Working as part of a single entity, the Design-Build team tightly collaborates, coordinates and communicates. Suppose you and the architect are discussing the options for supporting a multi-vehicle garage on a particular spot on the property. The architect can readily contact the team’s engineer to assess the possible feasibility of multiple options. For example, the engineer might want to evaluate the differences between wood beams, structural steel and concrete. Not only can the engineer quickly develop their assessment, but they can ask the team’s builders and suppliers for opinions. You will receive a well-informed response promptly, letting you make the best possible decision.

The process limits group friction, too. For example, the team members all use the same software so there won’t be misunderstandings about critical things like units, measurements, file types and color matches.

The team members also benefit from this higher level of communication. When the job gets to the framing phase, the carpenter won’t need time to assess the requirements. The carpenter was already in the loop during the design phase. Tighter coordination within the team reduces the risk of surprises. It also provides better accountability since everyone answers to one authority. No one can pass the buck.

Lower Costs and Better Logistics

Designing and building a custom home with a single team drives efficiency and lowers costs. The architect can work with team members to identify the best value options for every aspect of the project. Better coordination reduces the costs of changing orders. Using one company means working with a single administrative structure, leading to less paperwork and eliminating many legal expenses. One entity is also more able to achieve economies of scale on the project because it has more leverage in negotiating with suppliers. Scheduling and sequencing multiple projects yields more economic leverage, too.

The logistics of the design-build process also will be excellent. With proper coordination, the needed people, equipment and supplies will efficiently move among the company’s pending and current projects. Everyone is involved early, meaning orders move right after contract signing. Particularly when supply chains are severely constrained, logistics significantly benefit from the early action inherent to the Design-Build process.

Clarity

Many people sour on traditional contracting methods because of the lack of clarity. Schedules and costs run over without satisfactory explanations. Subcontractors don’t translate the architect’s designs into the customer’s expected real-world results. Even if the pipeline from design to execution is on track, a supplier could fumble a key part of the project.

Contracting with one business to design and build a custom home from start to finish provides clarity. You know what the price is and who the people are. The team members all know each other well, too. The design-build process streamlines approvals, keeps costs down, speeds work and provides quality assurance.

About Timeline Design+Build

At Timeline Design + Build, we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional craftsmanship and innovative solutions in custom residential projects across the Silicon Valley—seamlessly combining interior design and construction from concept to completion. With a commitment to excellence and client satisfaction, we leverage our expertise and creativity to bring your dreams to life.

Wondering if design-build is the right option for your goals? Contact us today.

Specializing in luxury custom homes in the communities of

Current project

Los Altos Contemporary Rebuild

This is a whole house remodel with small addition to modernize all the infrastructure of the home as well as change the exterior aesthetic. The entire structure is 3,400sf including a 2-car attached garage. There is significant demolition and rearrangement of the interior walls allowing for a more efficient, contemporary living style.

Location

  • California

Photography

  • Panaskopic Productions

Scope

  • Architecture, Interior Design, and Build

Current project

Cupertino Eichler Rebuild

In collaboration with Klopf Architecture, Timeline is remodeling a Cupertino Eichler with upgrades to electrical and HVAC, improved radiant heating, new roofing and waterproofing, insulation throughout the home, and a new kitchen.

Location

  • California

Photography

  • Panaskopic Productions

Scope

  • Build