Build Your Team, Build Your Home.
Congratulations on taking the step to build a custom home – now it’s time to invest
in building your team which should include an architect, a builder, and a construction
manager (also known as an Owner’s Representative). There is nothing quite like the
experience of designing a space that is meant only for you and your family but it is also
a huge undertaking and one that many homeowners don’t have the experience for.
One of the first things you will need to decide is which process to start with. There is
the Design-Bid-Build process but there is also the Design-Build process. For the sake
of this article – we will dive into the Design-Bid-Build process.
In practice, the Design/Bid/Build model was never functional but evolved from
commercial practices as the only model available. D/B/B at its core contains the three
elements of any contract or project; value, cost, and time.
· Design establishes the value of the project objective
· Bid objectifies the cost of the work
· Build is the management process
With these elements, you have a project and a project team. So, you are all set, let’s
take a closer look at roles and responsibilities.
Construction Manager’s Help with Architects & Designers
Design is obviously the architect; their mandate is to turn the client’s vision into a
functional space and a set of documents by which it can be built. Cost and time are
considerations but not the primary intent. If the client has the time and money the
architect will design to the nth degree and do so joyfully, because the design is what
they love to do and what they have been hired for.
The bid does not establish the cost; the bid only reports the cost of the design.
Contractors may appreciate a design but ultimately, they don’t care about the design
other than to determine whether or not it’s a feasible build. Their mandate is
construction and the management of the work. Experience in certain types of design
may give them insight into more cost-effective management methods but the builder is
not expensive, the design is. Seeking out a “cheaper” builder is not the way to save
money on a project be wary of that if it is the first suggestion your construction manager
Construction Managers Monitor How Design Impacts the Cost to Build
Cost is the fait-de-complete of the project triad and this responsibility falls to the client, it
is ultimately your dream and your design. However, the client is typically the least
qualified member of the team to understand and manage the construction cost. Thus,
they rely on input from the architect and the client ends up just hoping the construction
bids will come in lower than expected. This type of wishful thinking can create costly
If you take planning and budgeting for a vacation as a metaphor for building your custom
home: When you plan a vacation – you know the budget so you check airfares, hotels,
and venue costs to understand what spending cash you have left for the trip. When
you plan to build your custom home you should do the same thing. Understand your
budget, design the space, and collaborate with your architect, construction manager,
and contractor to value engineer the plans – redesign them – and then go out to bid.
The Design-Bid-Build model puts you in the hotel before you know what the trip is going
Design-Bid-Build works to a certain extent in commercial construction as the design
parameters and limited and decisions are less emotional, Picking tile for the men’s
rooms are not the same as the cabinets for the Chef’s kitchen. By its nature design is
different and therefore the bid is different, every answer is not there, assumptions will be
made, and evaluating the cost will be more difficult.
Construction Managers Ensure a Collaborative Build
The solution is collaborative construction with your architect, a construction manager,
and the builder you ultimately select to build your custom home. Residential
construction is a team effort in order to keep the design, cost, and time well managed. It
is important to understand the contractor is only the cost accountant – they don’t control
the costs the design does. So if you want to know what it will cost during the design
phase – ask the folks (the contractor or construction manager) who work with the costs
every day – the architect or designer will not know the cost of building the home. Utilize
your construction manager and builder as a consultant and you will know the cost of the
work as the design progresses and can adjust accordingly.
The bottom line is building a custom home is much like starting a small company.
Homeowners need to assume all of the associated management responsibilities, which
is a lot to know if you aren’t from the construction industry. To stay efficient and cost-
effective consider hiring a construction manager (aka owner’s representative) to
oversee the consultants, schedule, cost, and quality. They have the construction skills
you need to ensure you get the dream custom home you want at a price that is
affordable and built in a respectable timeframe.
To schedule a free consultation and get more information about hiring a construction
manager (owner’s representative), click the “contact us” tab at the top of this page or
call me (Duane Barney) at 203-826-8096