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How Design-Build is Displacing Architectural Specs

  |  Posted in Commercial, Design Build

How Design-Build is Displacing Architectural Specs

The rapid growth of Design-Build is an opportunity that most building materials manufacturers are missing. They are ignoring 50% of the commercial construction market by focusing solely on the traditional architectural specification market.

Here’s a simple description, “United from the outset of every project, an integrated team readily works to successfully complete a project faster, more cost effectively and with fewer change orders” – Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA)

Who wouldn’t want to get in on that type of action? Not only does it lead to happier owners, but more on-time (or early) projects means that there will be more time for the design team to work on additional projects—and potentially more sales for you. What would you rather be doing: working on change orders or adding new project sales?

So let’s look at the growth of the design- build industry and how it is displacing the traditional architectural specification process.

Remind Me: What’s Design-Build?

Design-build is all about streamlining, efficiencies, and delivering building owners at project faster, with less waste.

The old architectural specification approach requires project owners to try to blend the work of two groups of industry professionals, managing one contract with the architects and designers, and another contract with the contractors and subs. Two contracts, and potentially two sets of project ideas and alliances. In this world, you, as a building materials manufacturer, work as a sub for the contractor.

Notice how that places you out of the loop of one of the two contracts. And in cases where the owner is not happy, finger-pointing across contracts may leave you, the sub, holding the bag of blame.

Design-build streamlines the project into one contract. That contract is between the owner and the design-build team.

The single contract is a very different scenario. From the planning stage, the project is seen as an integrated collaboration, not as segregated sets of specs and sub-hires.

Building materials manufacturers are part of the team—consulted up front, which typically translates into fewer change orders, shorter timelines, and lower owner costs.

Design-Build is Displacing Architectural Specs

Notice that we’re saying displaces, not replaces. That’s because it’s a whole new system, not a tweaking of the old system. How did it change? Project owners started demanding design-build and the world of general contractors listened.

The word “bid” has been dropped because contractors now are partners from the start with project designers and not the next step. Contractor teams are at the table at the earliest part of the project planning stage. That means that costs, timelines, specs—all of the key metrics—are designed in by the contractor team with the owner’s functional, sustainable requirements in mind.

Why is that important for you? In the world of design-build, the more knowledgeable the contractor is about your products’ quality, what your products can do, how fast you can supply them, what they cost, and how flexible you are to work with, the more likely you will be called on to be part of the team.

Design-Build is Huge

Here’s another reason to get in on the design-build action: it’s becoming increasingly popular among large project owners such as the federal government.

Over the last decade, design-build has trended upward steadily. It now captures over 40 percent of the non-residential construction market, dropping architectural specification down to about 50 percent (the rest is the so-called “construction management at risk” approach).

My blog post, “What Design Build Contractors Want from Building Materials Manufacturers,” walks you through what it takes to partner successfully with design-build contractors. In this blog, my role is to point out that design-build not only is here to stay but on the verge of overtaking other project approaches.

If the idea of design-build interests you, you don’t need to sit back and wait for an opportunity to knock on your door.

Consider that local architects and designers may be looking at the design-build trend and thinking about—or even quietly planning—to land projects that will work within that approach.

Seek out your Design-Build contractors and let them know you are ready to get on board.

There’s never been a better time to jump into the design-build market.

You can learn more about Design Build in this article from Construction Dive.

Contact us if you’d like to learn more ways to grow your sales.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.