David Michael
Architectural Design & Building Specialists


Whether the project be a beautiful and functional residential project, or a pragmatic and productive commercial project, the initial decision about the business framework between the owner and the necessary building professionals will greatly influence whether the project is successful or not.

What defines success? I think we can agree, if a project is completed on time, in budget and with quality success has been realized. But how is this best accomplished?

One way is to combine the separate components necessary to organize a building project: Design, Engineering and Construction. Doing this with a one-stop resource is called ‘Design-Build’. In other words, when the architectural designer in charge of designing a project is also a building specialist in charge of the construction management process, it is both efficient and cost-effective and allows for a stream-lined communication and decision-making process. This helps assure adherence to the budget and to meet high quality standards, throughout the entire design and construction processes.

During 30 plus years in the trades, actively practicing as both an architectural designer and construction manager, I have seen the evolution of these separate and distinct professions. They are both critical to a project-but little regard is sometimes given to how they are expected to integrate as one entity for the life of a project. For instance, communication, drawings, specifications, accounting and field operations are often conducted from multiple offices, in various cities or states, with a project unfortunately paying the price for this fragmentation.

Today, we have learned from many successful projects, that if architecture and construction management are unified into one qualified single source, a most important goal is achieved. That is, a satisfied and happy Client.

Here is a compilation of questions and answers that I have been part of with clients over the years, which I hope will provide some insight to the ‘Design-Build’ concept.

Property Owner: “We want to design and build our own project, but don’t know where to start. I understand that there are many different companies and people that will be needed for this process. What is involved?”
DMCG: A typical project will require three major categories of professionals; an Architectural Designer, an Engineer if required, and a Construction Manager. You can hire them individually, or as one entity. Either way, knowledgeable coordination is vital to the success of a project.

Property Owner: I’ve heard that I can hire a building designer or an Architectural Designer; what’s the difference? 

DMCG: Many times, the difference is the level of experience and professionalism that you will receive. In most cases, a typical building designer has not attended an accredited school of architecture. The typical path for an Architectural Designer is to obtain knowledge by attending an accredited School Of Architecture, followed by work experience with an architectural firm. 

Property Owner: I’m not in the building business and don’t feel comfortable coordinating and being responsible for important decisions that will need to be made, especially with this many different companies. I feel that it could get overwhelming with management responsibilities and end up being very costly to me. Is there an alternative to streamline the process, so that there is a single source responsible for everything and I can work with them on a clear one-on-one basis?
DMCG: This is essentially the core of the ‘Design-Build’ concept, a one-stop resource of responsibility for all of your design and construction needs.

Property Owner: Isn’t hiring one firm instead of several different firms, sort of collusive?

DMCG: It's not a lot different than other professions. For instance, the doctor who examines you and prescribes surgery may be the same one who is actually performing the surgery; it’s all about monitoring the process from beginning to end and producing a successful outcome.


Property Owner: What cost advantages are there for me, to hire a Design-Build firm, over hiring separate companies?

DMCG: A firm with in-house Architectural Designers, Building Specialists, and Construction Managers, work in unison on a daily basis, on every part of your project as it proceeds. Even before the construction has begun, the design and engineering plans are evaluated and analyed by the project’s Construction Manager and Building Specialist pragmatic sense of cost efficiency, along with the Architectural Designers creativity and quality- conscious mind.


Property Owner: What other costs am I saving?

DMCG: Professional fees can add up to at least three separate overhead and profit costs (Architectural + Engineering + Construction). In a Design-Build format, there is only one fee-significantly less than all of the other fees added up separately. It’s efficiency in packaging.


Property Owner: Will my project be built faster with this Design-Build process?

DMCG: It certainly will be, yes. When all the professionals needed for your project are in one office and have a daily working relationship, project decisions, scheduling and material orders can be expedited so that the project can move forward, rather than waiting for outside professionals to respond which can cause delays.


Property Owner: How will the quality of the construction be assured? 

DMCG: This is actually another cost savings as well, since the in house Construction Manager will be on the job observing the work performed, assuring quality-control, on each step along the way. Our firm strictly follows the performance guidelines established in The National Association of Home Builders publication “Guidelines for Professional Builders & Remodelers” to ensure your project is built using the finest quality materials and skilled craftsmen. The client is not paying any additional fees for this time; it’s already part of a ‘Design-Build’ package.

Property Owner: What qualifies a company to call themselves Design-Build? 

DMCG: Unfortunately, there isn’t any regulation for this terminology. It’s up to the Property Owner to assert themselves, to ask about the companies’ qualifications, experience, and enthusiasm for your project. 


Property Owner: What other services can a Design-Build firm provide for me, so I can simplify the process even further? 

DMCG: Every firm works differently, but as part of our all-inclusive package of services, our company also offers interior design, site work (parking, lighting, curbs, sidewalks, and gates), furniture, fixtures & equipment, landscaping, and pools & recreation amenities. 

Hopefully this short article has provided a basic understanding to what the ‘Design-Build’ option provides to a Property Owner. Specific questions or concerns about your project can easily be answered during an initial complimentary consultation. 

We look forward to discussing many of the exciting possibilities for your project with you.

David Michael