Updated On 25 November 2022.
The design-build construction method entails awarding a single contract to the contractor, subcontractors, designers, architects, and engineers who work together as a unified team to build a client’s project. As powerful as the collaboration is, the financial failure of a design-build firm or a contractor can be equally damaging to a project. That is why it’s highly important to carry out proper research and do your homework before selecting a contractor.
A building project requires a huge capital outlay and it will be very painful to select the wrong firm for the job. What are those indicators and criteria to use when selecting a building designer?
Below, we shall x-ray the proper steps to take when selecting a design-build firm for your building project.
Research Is The Key
Carefully vetting potential contractors can help hire the best design-build company that understands your vision, needs, and budget.
If you want to minimize risk exposure when selecting a contractor, you have to do your proper homework by carrying out extensive research. Look at the financial status and capabilities of the firm before contacting them.
There are several ways to research a firm to give you an insight into its activities. Apart from researching the firm, you also need to inquire about the type of project you are considering and which type of firm is best known for handling such projects.
2. Experience And Track Record Will Be Vital
One of the best signs of future success is past success.
In the world of building and design, the experience of the contractor matters a lot. Look at the history of the firm and find out what they have achieved so far in the industry. Do they have the necessary job experience in the type of project you want to embark on? What are their financial status, track record, and popularity?
Usually, a design-build firm with a strong reputation will not want to do anything to tarnish its image. The prospective contractor for the project should know about all the laws and building requirements in the area. This will help you avoid issues during and after the completion of the project.
3. What Are Reviews Saying About Them?
Someone doing excellent work will leave their past clients with a positive customer experience.
This is certainly a very good criterion used when selecting the right design-build firm. If the contractor is very good, surely many people will have good things to say about them.
Ask around about them both offline and online (of course they should have an online presence if they are really serious and trustworthy). See what customers are saying about them. Their comments and reviews will help you decide whether the building design firm is ideal for your kind of project.
4. Hear From The Horse’s Mouth
Prepare a questionnaire for interviewing each of the prospective contractors.
After doing your research and finding out all you can about the contractor, it’s time to hear from them. Ask questions to get an insight into their experience and the experience level of their workers. Find out about their certification and association with their peers in the industry. A firm belonging to strong associations is a good sign they are in business for growth and expansion.
Also, you need to find out the experience level they have concerning your type of project. What is their staff strength and overall capacity to handle projects? How many contracts are they currently working on? These questions will be very important to make sure your project will not be delayed.
From their comments and answers, you will have an idea of whether the design-build firm can handle your project.
5. Review their License And Insurance Documents
Any construction company should be licensed by the state, insured, and bonded to prove its legitimacy and financial stability.
A design and construction project requires a lot of capital investment. Make sure you ask for and review the license and insurance documentation of your design-build company to eliminate any legal risks.
Trace the contracting license number they will be providing, which should also cover the services you want them to perform. Construction work involves multiple dangers, so the company you hire should have a Certificate of Insurance (COI) and worker’s compensation insurance for any accidents or injuries that may happen. Without insurance, they can’t be held liable for accident or injury bills.
In addition, review their general liability insurance for coverage of property damages such as structural failures, equipment failures, and employee negligence. Check the design-build contractor’s bonding capacity to verify that the company is financially stable.
6. An Impressive Portfolio Of Past Projects
Portfolios will show their experience and expertise in finishing projects similar to yours.
Taking a look at the design-build contractor’s past projects similar to yours can provide you with a clearer picture of what they are capable of. Are those projects similar to yours? Do you find their designs appealing? Review their portfolio carefully and ask questions about how they work with clients during the design phase, how much they charge for their design services, and how many options you will see. This is crucial to understand how design services are balanced with construction costs.
Besides assessing the pictures, pay visits to one or more of their completed projects. You will be able to practically see the results the contractor has the potential to deliver. A portfolio review is also an excellent way to generate ideas and inspiration for your projects.
7. Communication Is The Key
A contractor willing to communicate transparently can be considered a more trustworthy choice.
Working with a design-build firm for your project is a long-term collaboration. Hence, you would want to be assured that your questions and concerns will be addressed promptly. Inquire about what communication process the company follows as a team for their clients.
Regular exchange of emails, phone calls, and documents must take place to keep a check on progress at the end of the day or week. They should be conducting face-to-face status update meetings with stakeholders and team members to address any issues or problems that arise.
Set expectations for updates and how problems, throughout the construction, will be communicated and resolved. If you want your project to run smoothly, choose someone who develops a great rapport with you and is transparent in their communication.
8. Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
Clean safety and claim records guarantee worksite safety during the construction process.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the construction industry reports a comparatively high rate of occupational fatalities due to electrocution, falls, injuries, and fires. To ensure an accident-free construction site, hire a company that instills a safety culture among their workers.
Honest construction companies aren’t hesitant to discuss their safety track record. Make a point to get any guarantees or warranty assurance in writing. How do you get proof of their safety claims? Request for the company’s Emergency Modification Rate (EMR).
The EMR is regarded as a universal measure of a builder’s safety standards. Any rate less than 1.0 indicates that the design-build company has a brilliant safety record.
9. Ask Who Will be Working On The Project
One of the prominent advantages of working with a design-build firm is the collective onboarding of diverse specialists.
Some design-build companies will create a project team of in-house architects, interior designers, and engineers. These types of companies have more control over the projects.
Other companies, however, may rely on a network of subcontractors or outsource employees for each project. In the latter case, you should perform due diligence on those outsourced subcontractors and employees to find out their credibility.
With good research, you can ensure that the people you are hiring are experts in their jobs and not novices. Moreover, a well-established firm will have enough contacts with reliable subcontractors and suppliers.
10. Finally, Know The Cost Of The Project
Compare and evaluate project ‘bids’ or cost estimates received from different design-build firms.
There are many times when people have started work on a building project and later discovered the cost of the project far outweighs what they have budgeted. This can be avoided by having someone properly evaluate the entire cost of the project from land development to completion of the project.
The design-build contractor will also have to do their own evaluation. Examine critically what is involved in each of the project’s stages and compare project costs with different firms.
Before beginning the construction, keep a clear understanding of material and labor costs, additional costs, and how unexpected delays and damages will be handled.
Overall, due diligence is very necessary when it comes to huge projects like the construction of a building. Whether you are building a new facility, remodeling an older building, or expanding your office or business area, selecting the right design and construction partner for the job will save you money, time, and headaches. Consider the above-mentioned criteria while hiring the right contractor and pave your way to a successful project.
Constructive Solutions, Inc. has an experienced team of Design-Build professionals who will work with you from start to finish to achieve your goals.
Contact us today to get a quote.