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The Difference Between Design-Build and General Contractors

When it comes to designing and building homes there are generally two options. Homeowners can utilize the skills of a general contractor or a design-build company. The main difference between the two is a general contractor will focus on the construction side of things whereas a design-build firm will also handle the architectural work along with the building of it. Design-build contractors are able to handle both jobs since they employ a team of in-house architects, carpenters and builders etc. Any company which ends up hiring outside architects for design work isn’t really a true design-build outfit.

General Contractors

General contractors have to hire somebody else such as a drafts person to come up with architectural plans. This typically results in delays and added costs when compared to a design-build contractor who has a full-time in-house team to handle all the work. The architects take care of the construction drawings and conceptual design plans for your new home or the remodeling of your existing living space. An architect is needed to make sure local building codes are adhered to as well as health and safety issues.

Design Build

A well-executed design needs to be in place before building can begin. It’s much easier to get things done on time and on budget when architects and builders are working together hand in hand on the same team. A design-build contractor looks after every step of the process from the initial planning stage all the way through the completion of the project. These contractors are able to provide clients with expert detail, design and craftsmanship along with first-rate service. Homeowners also know exactly who is responsible for each aspect of the job and who to contact with any concerns.

When the design and construction phases of a building project are handled by the same company it speeds up the process and reduces costs. You’ll also be treated to the same unified quality control from the beginning of the project until the very end. The project is generally simplified since one contractor is handling the entire workload instead of several people. This includes providing the architects, engineers, plumbers and electricians etc. There’s no need to hire any outside help and take the added time to work out a schedule with subcontractors.

Choosing Between The Two

This isn’t to say the traditional hiring of contractors only is never a good idea though.  If you have a specific engineer or architect in mind that you would like to work with then you will usually need to separate the design process from the building stage. Many Design Build companies will work with your chosen engineer or architect, though some may not so be sure to ask.

Also, when employing separate designers and builders you’ll be able to access the professional knowledge and input of more than just one person. This means more ideas and options may be floating around concerning the project. You may even find more flexibility when working with two different teams when it comes to payments, changing orders and contract negotiations etc. Although you will have several different people to deal with and pay rather than just one contractor.

Choosing between design-build and general contractors is a personal choice and it often depends on where your priorities lie. Design-build companies are becoming more popular because they generally save homeowners time and money, but your decision may ultimately depend on the complexity of your plans.

York Design Build

York Construction Company has been serving Toronto and the GTA for over 50 years and offers Design Build services for both residential and commercial projects.  For more information on design/build and general contracting options please feel free to contact us here.