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From Wish-List to Reality: Design/Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

Building a home involves learning a new language, and interpreting all the terminology used by designers and contractors can feel daunting. Two phrases you should know right away? The difference between the most common construction methods used in residential building, Design/Build and Design-Bid-Build. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both options will help you go from hypothetical wish-list to stepping into a new home with minimal delay or additional costs.


Design/Build (DB)

The future homeowner hires a single entity, the design/builder, to design and build the home under a single contract.

Why this works for you…

  • Construction cost is predetermined, and since the designer and builder are working in tandem, the owner is guaranteed a finished product within their anticipated budget.
  • Preliminary construction begins as the designs are finalized, allowing projects to be completed quickly and efficiently.
  • The DB entity maintains financial responsibility for all design and construction risks, and requires less resources from the owner.
  • Research indicates that projects completed under a DB contract are typically less expensive, are completed on schedule, and experience fewer design-related complications.

Sounds ideal, right? The Design/Build method is an effective and streamlined procedure that poses little risk for the homeowner. A potential disadvantage to the Design/Build model is the lack of owner control and design input, with little room for modification once the plans are finalized. These are downsides that may be resolved with a Design-Bid-Build contract.

Design-Bid-Build (DBB)

If you want to play a key role in creating your home, the Design-Bid-Build route may be a better choice. In this scenario, the owner signs separate contracts with a designer and contractor.

Why this works for you…

  • After the home design is completed, the owner solicits bids from independent contractors. Competition for a new-build contract can potentially lower the price of your project.
  • Owner maintains control over design and construction quality, ensuring the use of high-quality materials in a home customized to individual preferences.
  • Implementation of design plans is usually quick and simplified without the need for excess collaboration between designer and builder.

One critical element of the DBB method: the owner maintains sole financial responsibility for the project, and bears all risk associated with the construction process. If a potentially high-risk design plan cannot be built, the owner must pay for design and construction modifications. However, if you can comfortably maintain the resources necessary to oversee a DBB construction cycle, the autonomy granted in this process far outweighs that of a DB project.

Regardless of which method you choose, good contractors and designers will happily work with you to make sure you understand unfamiliar terms or concepts. At Home Planning Hawaii, we are dedicated to not only helping you become fluent in the language of home building, but assisting you in finding the best team to make your new home wish-list a reality. Contact us today for a free project estimate, or more information on the best home construction method for you.

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