Construction from Existing Plans

Chagrin River Company is happy to build your project from existing plans and specifications properly prepared by a licensed architect or kitchen/bath designer, depending on the project.

Construction from Existing Plans is the third phase of the Design-Bid-Build method of remodeling and custom home building.

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How Design-Bid-Build Works

Before Design-Build became popular, the primary method homeowners used to remodel or build a custom home was Design-Bid-Build. This is a method in which you work with one company for design, like an architect, and another for construction, like a builder or general contractor.

Your project starts by finding and hiring an architect to develop your remodeling or custom home plans. When asked, some architects will design the project in a way they believe it can be constructed within your budget.

Once the architect’s plans meet your approval, the architect then prepares a bid package with production specifications.  You then put the plans and specifications out to bid to one or more general contractors. Only when the bids come back do you have a clear cost to build the project.

If the bid or bids come in too high, you have two options. You can pay the architect to change the approved plans and specifications and put the new plans out for bid to the the same group of contractors. Or you can have other lower cost, and usually lower quality, contractors bid on the project.

Today, design-bid-build is typically more practical for large to very large single family home projects and commercial projects, whereas design-build is practical for any size single family home remodeling or custom home project.

1) Find Designer or Architect

2) Develop Plans and Specs

3) Find One or More Contractors

4) Bid the Project

5) Review Bids

6) Select Contractor OR

  • Redesign Project to Fit Budget and Re-bid OR
  • Re-bid to Lower Cost/Quality Contractors

7) Remodel or Build

  1. You can select any architect you desire. For some projects, a specific architect may be important to you.
  2. The architect may come up with more design options if they are that are not restricted by a specific construction budget at the start of the project.
  1. With design-bid-build you have less cost control right from the start of the project. There is always a chance the architect’s design can’t be built even close to the desired budget with a quality general contractor. So you’ll either pay to redesign the project or go with a lower quality contractor.
  2. There is more duplication of effort with more people involved. Communications are often a weak link with this method because of multiple parties involved.
  3. If a problem comes up during construction that has to do with the design or specifications, or their clarity and intent, you are likely to find yourself in the middle between the architect and construction company. Each may point a finger at each other, with neither willing – or contractually obligated – to fix the issue at their cost.
  4. With two parties involved, and neither one responsible for the entire project, you are more likely to have to pay to fix a problem that arises.

Two Ways to Bid

Multiple Contractors Approach

Because the theory of getting bids is to get the best value by finding the contractor who will do the project for the lowest cost, you would typically bid the plans to 2, 3 or 4 contractors. While the theory behind this process seems to make sense, it ignores a number of factors. The result is that you don’t always end up with the best value or even the lowest cost.

  1. Contractors bidding on the project know other contractors are bidding. They also know you are likely to select the winner based on price. So, the contractors will keep their proposal costs as low as they can.
  2. You get to see proposals from several contractors and may feel more comfortable seeing a range of project costs.
  1. Most project bid packages from architects have plans and specs that leave certain decisions up to the contractor. A contractor bidding on the project typically uses an “allowance” for the cost of unspecified items.
  2. Since all the detailed discussions about the project have been between you and the architect, the bidding contractors may have no way of knowing what you have in mind for a given product. If there is no written specification or an equivalent specification for an item, a contractor has a lot of room to lower their bid price by setting allowances based on the lowest cost item that will meet the basic spec and meet code, which is unlikely to be the quality level fixture or finish you will want.
  3. Bid packages likely have no specifications for quality of craftsmanship, level of service, or how well a project is managed. Contractors competing for the job may estimate using labor rates of lower quality staff and subs, in addition to lower cost material allowances.
  4. The cost in a contractor’s proposal, even a fixed price proposal, is unlikely to be the final cost of the project. When you start selecting products and materials and you find the fixed price contract is based on lower quality than you want, your actual selections can result in a “Change Order” which means a price increase. What you pay in the end may have no relationship to the proposal cost, and chances of this happening is increased when you’re bidding a project to multiple companies.
  5. Knowing you will probably pick the lowest or middle cost proposal, there is great incentive for a contractor to base their bid on these methods of lowering the proposal’s bottom line.

 Single Contractor Approach

Another way for bidding the project is to select a general contractor that you trust, based on their reputation and proven track record of quality and service. When the plans are completed by the architect, the contractor works up an estimate or proposal for the project. The benefit of this process is that you are picking the contractor based on reasons more important than price alone. The contractor is less likely to prepare their estimate in a way that uses shortcuts to lower their bid price.

  1. You are likely to be more careful and selective when deciding on the general contractor or builder for your project.
  2. You will likely select the contractor based on the most important critiera for a successful and smooth running project such as experience, quality, service reputation, and track record of satisfied clients. References from satisfied clients generally mean the contractor is charging a fair price for their services and thereby providing good value.
  3. Because you have already selected them, the contractor knows you are trusting them to give you a fair price and that problems on the project or unnecessary changes in price will harm their reputation.
  4. The contractor will have little reason to submit a lowball estimate using lesser grade materials or unrealistic allowances in order to win the project, only to add extra costs to the project later.
  1. Many of the best remodelers and builders don’t participate in competitive bidding on projects. They don’t have to because they have reputations for quality work, good service, and charging fair prices.
  2. Without estimates from several companies you can’t gauge if a single estimate is high, low or on target.
  3. You must vet your contractor well enough so that you know you can trust them to provide a fair and realistic price and that they won’t pad the budget because you are not getting competitive estimates.
  4. You must know and trust that their reputation for doing good work, providing good service, running jobs smoothly, and not overcharging is important enough to them that they won’t take unfair advantage of the no-bid situation.
  5. You may not get the lowest price possible. (Although you may get the highest value. Read our “Price, Cost, Value” blog post)

Tips if You Use Design-Bid-Build

  • Select your architect very carefully. Make sure their bid packages are extremely detailed and specific.

  • Find out what redesign costs will be if bids come back outside of your budget.

  • Select any contractor bidding on your project very carefully. Determine the level of quality you want for construction and make sure all the contractors can provide that quality and that they have solid reputations.

  • Don’t ask more than 2 to 3 contractors to bid on your project. If you do, the best contractors may decline to bid.

  • Provide all the contractors detailed information about what you expect to pick for products, materials, and finishes. Give them specific products to base their proposal costs on, or at least quality levels you want, so you know that all the bids are based on the same criteria.

  • Ask for detailed proposals, including the specific materials and products included in the proposal.

  • Have your architect review the proposals to make sure that they are all based on the same specs.

  • Avoid selecting any bid that is out of line with the others. There shouldn’t be huge differences between them if you asking similar quality contractors for bids and they are bidding on the same specs.

Let’s discuss your project!

We work in these and other fine communities:

Chagrin Falls
East Side Heights

Gates Mills
Highland Heights
Kirtland Hills
Mooreland Hills
Orange Village

Pepper Pike
Shaker Heights
South Russell
Waite Hill
West Side Heights