The Story Behind a Design-Build Contractor


CarolinaFireJournal - Goosie Kennedy
Goosie Kennedy
07/27/2018 -

Every project has a story and every story starts with a dream, a want, or maybe a need that moves from ideas to groundbreaking.

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As your plans grow and your projects take shape on paper you have options on who, how, and what method of construction you use to construct your unique project. In today’s working environment, where there is not enough labor to build all the projects taking place, contractors are being more selective on the projects they want to pursue because staying within their limits will ensure happy clients, a growing resumé and comfortable profit margins. While the contractors are keeping close watch and taking note of their workload, owners should as well. Asking questions to their selective group of design-build contractors should help narrow the field and assist the decision-making process. Asking questions like, how many fire stations have you built? How many fire stations have you completed within the last five years? How many fire stations did you complete last year? How many fire stations are you currently building? These answers can help you determine the contractor’s knowledge of your specific needs and gives you the insight into their knowledge of the state code and administration requirements for a fire station. 

Your design-build contractor has a choice of projects to pursue. Every team goes through a process of deciding which projects are right for them and which projects are not within their current limits. This allows the team to stay within their construction boundaries, stay safe within their knowledge and keep their customers happy by providing the services that are right for them. Some design-build contractors are equipped for designing and managing schoolhouse renovations, some healthcare upfits, and others are built for design-build fire station construction. As companies grow and the team that makes up those decisions expand, the knowledge and capabilities of that company should continue to grow as well. A company can add certain individuals and turn a career fire station project contractor into a church builder, or into a strip-mall contractor. Those niches help contractors feel confident in their final products and their ability to perform with the highest end standard of construction. Also, with more experience in their trade, the customer has a better and more relaxed feeling knowing their chosen design-build contractor has traveled down this road of renovation or new construction before. This should give the customer an ease of knowing they are in good hands within the confines of that trusted contractor.

Your design-build contractor likely goes through a series of preliminary project questions to help determine their success rate for a project. A series of checks and balances is essential to ensure the result will be one that is favorable for the customer and the contractor. Questions asked are, does this project fit within our schedule of time constraints? Does this project fit within our geographic area of operation? Does this project open the door to future work within a new market? Is this project profitable for us? All these questions are important and must be answered when a potential customer calls and discusses their plan. These questions can’t be taken lightly by the contractors because in a highly volatile market, like the one we live in today, one misstep can lead to another and opportunities soon fall away due to bad word of mouth. Therefore, thoroughly vetting your design-build contractor is very important and choosing your contractor based off experience and knowledge within the specific industry is vastly important. You don’t want a foot doctor working on your heart, the same way as you don’t want a stick-built house contractor constructing your 50-year fire station. They are both doctors/contractors, but they both also have their places and have their specific trade expertise. 

A design-build contractor not only wants to construct a project, they also want to build a relationship; because good relationships lead to further growth. Trusting your contractor and allowing his knowledge to reign over the project as it takes shape is a must-have for clients. If your contractor has the experience and resumé of proven success, your project can take shape with a trusted leader forging the path.

If you are a potential client with a specific need, do your homework and find the best design-build contractor for your work. Ask the tough questions and be active within the vetting process. Contractors with proven track records can be found for your project and those are the ones you want. 

Goosie Kennedy is a Project Manager for D. R. Reynolds Company, Inc., a Design-Build General Contractor.
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Issue 32.4 | Fall 2018

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