Design-Build construction is one of the most popular topics in architecture today.  This ‘turn-key’ method of project delivery is gaining preference amongst commercial construction projects due to speed requirements and budgetary restrictions.  Churches looking into expansion and new construction projects should consider this effective method of construction.  However, not all design-build entities are the same.  There are three main forms of delivery: a fully-integrated architecturally-led design-build firm, two companies merged into a single entity, and the architect at the construction firm. 

The first entity is very rare.  Vanman is an architecturally-led fully-integrated design-build firm.  Our focus is on meeting the needs of the client with solutions that are architecturally relevant and interesting while finding the best prices.  Being in a single office under one roof, our architects lean heavily on our construction managers to understand methods, even if our contract is for only architectural services.  This ensures the project is buildable and within budget restrictions.

The second entity is the merging of two separate companies for a specific project.  These two companies, often having worked together for other projects, create a contract for this one project and work as a design-build company.  After the project, they return to separate entities.  The architecture company provides answers to the complex situations, while the construction company provides pre-construction services and bidding services after the architectural portion is complete.  One concern is the lack of direct interaction between architecture and construction firm – separate buildings could lengthen project time and add to the difficulties in communication.

The third design-build entity of an architect at a construction firm has a reputation for lower control for the owner.  The construction firm may force decisions to make the project profitable, but it may be at a loss for the owner, either in money or material selection.  This method is best for simple projects, but complexity may be beyond the single architect’s knowledge.  In addition, the construction firm might have their own contractors, minimizing the opportunities for the best price for the project.

Each entity will have their place in the industry, but the choice of which method of design-build construction is right for you should depends upon complexity of the project and your trust in the company.