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Design Bid vs Design Build

When starting my building business back in 1986, I sat down and analyzed the systems in place in the custom home market:
-design/bid system
-design/build system

After trying the design/bid system with disappointing results, I decided to give design/build a try. After years of improvement in both the organization and team we have put together, I can now say without doubt that the Landsted design/build system is at the forefront of custom residential systems, both in terms of ease of use for the client, and the results of the process, the finished product.

Following is a brief description of each system, and some reasons why we strongly feel our system is truly superior.

In the design/bid scenario, the client works with an architect or designer to design their future home once they have secured a home-site. The client conveys their architectural preferences, budget, lifestyle, and the features they are looking for in their new home. The architect then creates a set of bid documents containing the plans and specifications of the structure to be built.

Once complete, the project is let out to bid with several different contractors. Typically the contractor with the lowest price is awarded the job. The successful contractor then completes the project in accordance with the plans and specs prepared by the architect. In some situations the architect remains involved to manage the project, ensure compliance with the plans and specs, and deal with questions on-site. Other times this is not the case, and the contractor is allowed to complete the project and deal with on-site situations themselves. In most design/build situations the client also works with an independent interior designer to help coordinate colors, help with interior selections, etc.

The preliminary design phase of our Design/Build system is very similar to that at an architectural firm. In our design meetings we have our architectural Designer as well as another Landsted staff member. Our design process consists of several design meetings, each about an hour in duration. We take copious notes, kick ideas around, and work with clients in an attempt to creatively solve problems and provide the best product possible given the budget and site limitations. Following each design meeting, we work together with our Production Manager to continue the process of value engineering the plans and specs to best achieve the goals and direction given us during the design meetings.

Each design meeting is more focused than the last, as we close in on and get the design more and more in sync with the visions of the client. We get data to complete the Project Specifications at these sessions. The products we specify for each project are the best the industry offers in each category for energy efficiency, moisture control, durability and value. During each meeting we keep the client informed of our most recent cost estimate for the project. This information comes from our Production Manager, and is a most important element of the design process.

The close relationship between the design and construction elements our system encourages yields several major advantages over design processes which do not include direct input from the production arm of the system. We have learned through years of experience that it is difficult to maximize the successful execution of a project without constant interface between the design and construction components of the project, from beginning to end.

Following the completion of the project design and specifications our Production Manager bids out the project, and presents the clients with a contract. The contract includes the plans and specifications as attachments, and spells out the payment schedule for the project. Landsted typically bids out several options which clients can consider, allowing them to fine-tune their home to best fit their needs and budget. We deal with the finest suppliers and trades-people in the area, most of which have been team members for years, even decades.

Once the contract is signed, Landsted clients work with our ASID Licensed Interior Designer to help them select colors, interior products, finishes, window treatments, etc. This service is included in the contract price, and continues through the construction phase of the process.

During the construction phase, our Job Supervisor has several walk-throughs with clients to make sure their vision for the project is being accurately reflected. During this process it is not uncommon for some change-orders to occur. Our Designer is involved with each project through completion. Once construction is completed, our Job Supervisor will be responsible for the warranty service for your new home.


COMMUNICATION: The client is communicated with throughout the process by the appropriate representative, and has access at any time to the Designer or President of Landsted. Furthermore, we understand pricing. I am aware of many situations in the Design/Bid process when the design was impossible to build anywhere near the stated budget of the client. This does not happen with the Landsted Design/Build System.

COST: Residential architectural fees typically range from 7-15% of the construction cost of the project. Landsted profit and overhead includes the cost of our design, interior design, project management and warranty. Our component cost for design is a small percentage of typical architectural fees.

ACCOUNTABILITY: We are responsible for the project from beginning to end…there is no finger-pointing. If there is a problem, it is ours to be responsible for and solve. We also provide the Landsted Limited Warranty for each project we complete.

QUALITY: In the typical Design/Bid system, most low bidders are just that for a reason. Did they forget to include an item in the price? Did they fail to mark the project up enough to cover contingencies? Are they, indeed, using the exact materials in the project specification? Are their subcontractors qualified? In any job awarded this way, the above questions must be asked. In the case where the project architect is retained by the client to supervise the project, there can be a disconnect between architect and contractor. This can result in delays and job-site controversy. Who is in charge of the project when there is a conflict?

Since our profit margin is built in to each job, once a contract is signed it is our goal to complete the project in the most efficient means possible to minimize warranty callbacks and gain maximum customer satisfaction. In fact, customer referrals are our biggest source of new business. Landsted Companies have been building homes since 1986. We constantly research vendors and suppliers to ensure competitive pricing. We also know how much we have to mark our projects up to remain in business. If we were marking them up too much, or too little, we would no longer be viable.

I hope you have found the above helpful. It would be our great privilege to work with you on your new home or remodeling project. We can promise you the best in true, custom, Design/Build services.

-Mark Erickson
President, Landsted Companies LLC