Why Choose a GC instead of Design-Build for Your ADU

Using a design-build company for your ADU seems convenient, but the reality falls short of expectations. It may not save time or cost & can compromise quality.

When I established this firm, I contemplated extensively on the potential benefits of providing turnkey solutions for clients. However, after careful consideration, I made the decision to avoid offering both design and build services in-house.

While it may appear convenient to choose a design-build company that handles everything for you, the reality is different. Upon closer examination, you might discover that this approach doesn’t necessarily save time or costs, and it often leads to inferior construction quality. Here are seven reasons why you should consider hiring a general contractor to build your pre-designed ADU.

Upon closer examination, you might discover that this approach doesn’t necessarily save time or costs, and it often leads to inferior construction quality.

  • Limited Design Options

    Design-build companies often adhere to a specific style or preferred construction methods, which can restrict the variety of design choices available. If you have a unique vision for your home that diverges from the firm’s typical style, you may find yourself having to settle for a more standardized, cookie-cutter approach.

  • Reduced Quality Materials

    Design-build companies often rely on standardized material options that are pre-selected for cost efficiency and frequently stored in warehouses. This approach enables them to use materials they have already purchased, thereby saving on construction costs. This practice, though efficient for the builder, is generally what contributes to the uniform appearance of cookie-cutter homes both externally and internally.

This is what contributes to the uniform appearance of cookie-cutter homes.

  • Extended Overall Time

    Builders customize their designs for each client. While this approach ensures a tailored result, it can also prolong the overall time required to complete your ADU construction by several months, as it necessitates the creation of new drawings and designs. If you prioritize design and seek a custom ADU, consider partnering with an architect alongside a general contractor, and read the next point.

  • Reduced Architectural Expertise

    The primary focus often centers around the construction process at a design-build company by trained builders. Consequently, the level of design expertise within these firms may not equal that of architects. If architectural design is a top priority for you, hiring a separate architect may be a better option.

The overall time required to complete your ADU construction may be prolonged by several months, as a custom design necessitates the creation of new drawings and designs.

  • Conflict of Interest

    In a design-build model, the same entity is accountable for both the design and construction phases. This integrated approach can give rise to a potential conflict of interest. The firm might prioritize cost savings during construction, potentially compromising the overall design quality.

  • Limited Competitive Bidding

    In a traditional project delivery method, multiple contractors can bid on the construction phase, fostering healthy competition and potentially leading to cost savings. However, in the design-build approach, the firm may have a select group of preferred subcontractors, which limits the competitive bidding process. This exclusivity could potentially result in higher construction costs .

The same entity is accountable for both the design and construction phases giving rise to a potential conflict of interest since the firm may prioritize cost savings during construction potentially compromising the overall design quality.

  • Opaque Cost Breakdown

    Design-build firms frequently offer a lump-sum contract covering both design and construction services. While this approach simplifies the budgeting process, it can result in less transparency regarding the specific costs associated with each phase. Clients may find it challenging to discern how their budget is allocated.

So while design-build can offer a more streamlined process, if you are concerned with design, material quality, construction time, and budget, it’s important to weigh the potential drawbacks against the benefits and consider what your priorities are when building an ADU.

We provide comprehensive ADU plans, fully designed for both exterior and interior, ready for construction. With no need for additional architect involvement, you can seamlessly hand off the plans to your general contractor and witness your project come to life.