Roadmap for residences: How design-build can save your firm money

Submitted by digital on Fri, 05/22/2015 - 15:55
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Ohio-based architect Marika Snider adds that integrating stakeholders in this way can also have positive financial effects: \u201cI find that design-build is a great way to build because we have knowledge of both budget and construction costs from the project\u2019s beginning.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The chorus of enthusiastic voices is increasing, as well. Between 2005 and 2013, according to the "],[0,[0],1,"Design-Build Institute of America"],[0,[],0,", design-build gained an approximately 10-percent share in the nonresidential construction market. And anecdotal evidence suggests that that growth is beginning to take place in residential architecture. 20 percent of the work performed by Snider\u2019s eponymous 12-year-old firm is residential, for example, and is entirely design-build."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The upward trend in residential design-build is poised for a boost this month, when the American Institute of Architects adds the A145 to its Design-Build family of AIA Contract Documents. The new document codifies an agreement between an owner and design-builder specifically for residences."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Says Snider, who was one of 30 members of the Documents Committee that helped draft the A145, \u201cThere are people who want to [launch a design-build entity], but have been afraid of the additional legal issues you take on with construction. I hope this document will encourage more architects to engage in design-build, because the legal framework is now accessible.\u201d Documentation began in January 2014, after the AIA concluded market research validating demand for the initiative."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Joshua Ballance, senior manager and counsel for contract documents content at the AIA, details that accessible legal framework: \u201cIn the residential design-build arena, the tendency is to go for extremely short forms or something somebody has thrown together without using tried and tested language. Our documents have been tested in the courts, and we attempt whenever possible to use the language from our other documents because we know how that language will be interpreted in the courts. So, there are many benefits to using a standard form, especially one that\u2019s been tested as much as ours.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"For Ballance, length also figures largely into achieving accessibility. \u201cOur standard design-build documents are designed for commercial projects in general,\u201d he says of the A141 \u2014 the commercial predecessor to the A145. \u201cThat\u2019s not to say you couldn\u2019t use them on a residential project, but it is over 30 pages and has multiple exhibits, which is not the kind of thing you\u2019d want to present to a residential owner.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"According to "],[0,[1],1,"Bell Architects"],[0,[],0," founder Michael Bell, abbreviation reflects the scale of a residential commission in which a single design-build entity can execute a project from start to finish. \u201cWith larger commercial design-build packages, generally the owner contracts with the design-build entity, which may in turn contract with an architect or contractor \u2014 depending on whether that entity is architect- or contractor-led. Simpler projects mean fewer documents.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The New Orleans-based architect, who joined Snider on the Documents Committee, also praises the A145 for its \u201ceducational component.\u201d Because architects indeed take on additional legal risks by performing construction services, the new document directs them to specific concerns in this realm. \u201cIt\u2019s tough to extricate the Standard of Care from the warranty of the work,\u201d Bell says, for instance. In another example, he notes that Section 1.2, dedicated to statutory requirements, highlights the jurisdictional laws \u2014 such as those home warranty acts, as well as consumer protection notifications \u2014 that are unique to residential construction. \u201cAnybody who wants to build residential work needs to be aware of that, so we have prompts in the document that suggest figuring out the rules in your area.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Snider says that education benefits aren\u2019t limited to the A145\u2019s architect readers. \u201cClients may have never built a residence before, so the language, format, and provisions make this partly a teaching tool explaining to them how the process works,\u201d she says."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Another key difference between the A145 and the A141 is how the new document handles goals. Whereas a commercial design-build commission traditionally establishes programming and other essentials at the time of contracting, \u201cwith a residential project, we understand that owners probably have some idea of their criteria,\u201d Ballance says, \u201cbut it needs to be further developed during the design phase.\u201d Once the Owner\u2019s Criteria has been established and the design has progressed far enough, according to the A145\u2019s protocols, the owner and the design-build entity will enter into a design-build amendment that establishes the cost for construction."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Will the A145\u2019s formalization of the agreement process actually propel architects into design-build? Snider thinks the delivery method warrants a try. \u201cResidential design has long been a tough field for fees; you have to do projects of a certain size to get a worthwhile fee,\u201d she says. The calculus of construction, on the other hand, yields more profit. \u201cPeople who do design-build as their primary business model say you can do fewer projects and really invest all your time and energy into those projects.\u201d Architect and client alike benefit from the greater focus and, as Bell says, the higher profit margins may ultimately allow architects to provide services to a wider swath of consumers."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Indeed, of all the practitioners who will embrace design-build delivery as a result of A145, Bell might be the first. \u201cAs I helped put this document together, I have mulled [over] the possibilities of working with two or three different contractors. Having seen that there\u2019s a great road map here to enter into such an arrangement \u2014 now I\u2019m really looking for that opportunity.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[2],0,"This article originally ran on "],[0,[3],1,"Architizer\u0027s blog"],[0,[],1,"."]]]]}
Design-build is best known for achieving greater efficiency, and ensuring cost savings, over traditional design-bid-build.
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