DESIGN / BUILD


As we move further into 2015, Englewood Construction has been fortunate to entertain a lot of new business opportunities. All signs have been pointing to a robust commercial construction pipeline, with activity consistently on the rise. In fact, last year, the value of all commercial construction contracts signed in the Chicago area was close to $10.6 billion, an 18 percent jump over 2013, according to Dodge Data & Analytics, a New York research firm. Based on our backlog and client activity, we predict record growth in 2015.

Interestingly enough, we have found owners for many of the commercial construction projects out-to-bid are looking to work with design-build construction firms. As a former architect and member of the AIA, this couldn't make me happier.

There are so many benefits to using design-build construction firms, it surprises me more owners and investors don't hire design-build contractors for their new commercial construction projects.

It's not really a secret, but architects, engineers and commercial general contractors don't always see eye to eye. An architect may dream up an architecturally significant commercial construction project, but once a commercial general contractor takes a look at the drawings and the proposed site, a different reality may have to be addressed. Likewise, if a contractor gets behind on their construction schedule, the subcontractors might not be able to complete their work on time. In short, while these three entities have to work together, the coordination and camaraderie is often lacking and an adversarial relationship is formed if the owner has bid out the work solely on price in a competitive bid process.

However, a qualified national design-build construction firm can eliminate these problems by quarterbacking a project, working closely with owners and investors and controlling all commercial construction elements from start to finish.

Working with a design-build firm can include:

  • Subcontractor harmony. A design-build firm will likely work with a trusted set of subcontractors that they know will deliver a successful commercial construction project on time and budget. Relationships on a project count for a lot. Time is money and if a project has a better chance of staying on schedule because of familiarity between the development team members, it will prove valuable to the client.
  • Financial savings. A tenant or developer may be set on using certain materials, but perhaps there is a less expensive alternative that still delivers the same capabilities or appearance. These are the kind of things a good design-build contractor will let a client know. Controlling construction costs is in the design-build firm's best interest, as there is typically a profit share system worked out between the client and contractor if the project comes in under budget, with the client receiving the lion's share of savings.
  • True partnership. The relationship between a design-build firm and a client is much more of a partnership than the traditional competitive bid process allows for. Rather than simply following plans and doing strictly what the documents require, a design-build contractor will work with a client from the very beginning to determine the scope of the project. During the development process, the client and the design-build construction firm will work together to establish a realistic budget and list of wants and needs, and lock in prices on materials and labor for the project.
  • Less responsibility for owners. Owners can also rest easy knowing that any change orders that arise during commercial construction or any extra work that takes place due to unforeseen circumstances are the responsibility of the design-build contractor, not them. Fortunately, these situations rarely arise, as it is in the design-build construction firm's best interest to complete their due diligence.
Working with a design-build contractor guarantees a much smoother development process, generating savings on materials and labor and delivering a quality product backed by experienced, proven subcontractors.

To me, it's no secret as to why an owner would want to work with a design-build contractor. In fact, it's always puzzling to me why they would choose not to.

When the right circumstance arises and we decide to develop retail and entertainment venues, a design-build relationship will be the only option.