Architect or design build firm? What’s the difference, anyway? If you are researching companies to build your first custom home, you may have encountered a variety of professional services with different names. An architect and a design build firm both design custom buildings, including custom homes.
Traditionally, an architect was solely responsible for home design, handing off blueprints or CAD files to a general contractor to execute. The general contractor was responsible for subcontracting different aspects of the build and managing the project. A design build firm, on the other hand, brings everything in house so the design and build elements are done by the same company, and sometimes, the same individual.
Whether you look for a design build firm with an in-house architect/designer, or look for a builder to realize the plans of someone else, the most important thing is that you trust your team and they understand your budget and desires.
So which route is best for you? Architect or design build firm? All-in-one team or separate designer and general contractor?
Benefits of Design Build Team
All-in-One: One of the biggest advantages of bringing the design and construction pieces under the same roof is a streamlined process. You have a single point of contact and team members that know how to work with each other. Building a custom home involves a lot of communication, so work with one company can make things a lot easier.
Construction Management: Working with a design build firm, you know you are going to get project management, which can lessen your load as a mediating party between an architect and a builder. When the architect and builder are partners (or sometimes the same person) you can feel confident that any issues are being discussed and addressed.
Efficiency: When all work is in-house, there tends to be more synergy and better efficiency. In fact, one study by the Design Build Institute of America found that design build firms were 6% cheaper than design-bid-build processes involving multiple firms.
Disadvantages of a Design Build Team
Hive Mind: Sometimes teams coalesce and unify to a point where objective critique becomes difficult. Sometimes it takes an outside voice to disrupt the group and challenge its assumptions. Bringing in two separate teams to collaborate can often produce a product greater than any one company alone.
Less Team Choice: This can be good or bad depending on how you see it, but a design build firm has a set and established team. If you like the firms work, this isn’t a problem. But if you have your heart set on an independent architect, you may not be the right customer for some design build firms.
There Are Always Exceptions
We’ll conclude by saying that you don’t know what services or partnerships are available until you ask. If you are in the custom home market, know that architects and design build firms are comfortable and familiar with adapting projects and plans. If you have questions, the best thing to do is sit down with an architect or design build company. We’ve even brainstormed some interview questions you can ask to give you a better idea if the company is right for you.
Considering a custom home in the Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, or South Strand and Pawleys Island? Give us a call. Odom Design is a design build team dedicated to producing quality homes in South Carolina.