Where do I start? This is the most common question that we hear from clients who have never lived through a construction project. Whether you are planning a new building, or the smallest remodel, you will need to employ people to help you. There are a number of different approaches to consider, called Project Delivery Methods, to get you from point A to B.
In this traditional method, there are three prime players: the client, the architect/engineering team, and the general contractor. The architect's team designs the project. It is then sent to contractors for bidding and is built by the contractor that is awarded the bid. This is an established, tried-and-true delivery method that has a built-in system of checks and balances. It is best suited for projects that are not particularly schedule sensitive or for projects that are not subject to potential changes after contracting. The downside to this linear process is a longer delivery schedule, and there is no opportunity for input from the contractor during the design phase.
A relative newcomer compared to Design/Bid/Build, this project delivery method involves a direct contract between the owner and a single design/build firm. While this method has advantages, providing possibly the fastest delivery schedule and an early project cost commitment, there are major disadvantages to this approach. The usefulness of this method for complex projects with critical design needs is limited due to the loss of checks and balances between the architect and the contractor, and between the owner and the architect, and the potential for cost-saving strategies that can erode the design and construction quality.
An even newer, fresher approach to project delivery is a method called Bridging. Bridging involves having an expert in the specific design elements of your project develop drawings that identify the most important components. These drawings are somewhere between the basic schematic design drawings and full construction and permit drawings. The goal is to capitalize on the value of a design expert so you don't miss anything important. The bridging drawings can then be fully developed into a complete set of construction drawings by a local architect and contractor in a very cost-effective manner.
Choosing a project delivery method that is best suited to your particular project needs will result in fewer headaches and when it's done, you will feel good about the process and your final product.