Design build is a very open situation. There’s no exam, and no license. As a result, some contractors may misrepresent themselves as design build firms, but they lack the most critical component of a design build firm: the team.

A true design build company has everyone employed as one, not as separate entities.

An in-house, all-in one inclusive presence guarantees the design and the scopes of work will be clearly understood by all. Everyone’s in place in line, and there every day on the project. And no one is going anywhere else because they work for a separate firm that’s been hired to do the architecture, or a separate firm to do the construction.

That’s the risk factor, bringing two separate entities in. That’s not true design build, because the architect who was hired may have another client who needs to be serviced. And that takes away from completion of the drawings. Or the contractor now has to look upon some other project that needs to find another architect.

While the contractor-pretending-to-be-design-build scrambles to keep his subcontractors from drifting away, your true design build team is full-time and in house all the time. The subsequent understanding of each other is every day, day in and day out. That removes risk.

John Tahtabrounian is the principal at Oliver Construction Inc (OCI).