Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Design & Build Part 1: Is the Design and Build Process Better Than the Traditional Construction One?

Image: MS Office
Keywords: architects, blueprints, construction, contractors, developers
Many of us have first hand stories about the problems faced by people in a traditional construction project - planned separately from the construction. First, we plan our dream house or space with our chosen designer or architect, who gives us a cost estimate to the best of his/her knowledge. Then we go through the dreaded tender process and are confronted with the question 'Do we accept the low bid... it's even lower than the estimate?'. We know the contractor is going to charge additional fees for any changes from the plan needed to do the job and that could be a lot. Alternatively, what if all the bids come in too high? We wonder why and find that the designer's language and the contractors understanding of what's needed are not perfectly matched or the specifications of the plan miss details that the contractors believe they need to do the project. Either way, the result is higher cost resulting from project overruns or more design fees and re-tendering. Cost over-runs in construction projects are by far the norm and not the exception.

So, let’s say we do go ahead and choose the contractor, but then they cannot start for a few months because of labour shortages. This adds a lot of time to the project and our schedule goes right out the window. This is the sort of stress that many people don't expect or appreciate and it turns their lives upside down. Then, finally the contractor does start, but the work seems to drag on forever. Dust is everywhere, the kitchen and bathrooms are out of commission intermittently or in succession and compounding the inconvenience and mess, the timelines seem to continually slip. I know this is a broad brush generalisation, but if you talk to your friends, they will gladly share their horror stories with you.

So, is Design & Build the solution?

Click here to read the next instalment.
This article was contributed by Ari Berman, a Management Consultant from Toronto, Canada, with a specialization in operations and process change. He has helped companies spanning aircraft builders to soda drink manufacturers to increase their value - finding and improving important details that never got attended to in past. His work in the construction industry includes overseeing commercial construction projects in retail shopping malls across Canada. He can be reached at 647-235-8181 or via e-mail on

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