Jul 14, 2005

The Design-Build Dilemma, Part 1

Last week a client suggested that Verdance should also build our own designs, rather than entrusting them to contractors who may or may not share our vision.

It's a good thought. This particular client, unfortunately, isn't having the best time during the installation process: the contractor has cut a few corners, and even though I'm confident the finished landscape will look great, anyone who knows me knows that if I were managing the implementation I would be handling it quite differently.

But designing and building are two very different disciplines. (And frankly, it's more my speed to manage a few design associates from the comfort of my drawing board than to manage a construction crew out in the field.) This is why I'm not a huge fan of design-build firms: it's difficult to do both jobs well, unless a firm is big enough to have two separately managed divisions -- in which case they're probably too expensive for most homeowners.

The fact is, there's a lot more money in the "build" than in the "design." And since every construction job begins with a design of some sort, just about any construction firm can also profess to offer "design" services. In a word (OK, two), caveat emptor.

In an upcoming post, I'll offer some criteria against which you can evaluate designers (including design-build firms), to make sure you're truly getting the expertise you deserve.

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