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Design / Build

“From a historical perspective - the "master builder" is one of the oldest forms of construction procedure, the concept having been in use for over four millenia.”

Design/Build Advantages

Design/Build, as opposed to Design <stop>  Bid <stop> Build <stop>, is when buildings (or anything else for that matter) get built with the design and construction process united and carried out by a single firm, entity, or team working in concert with the client/owner. This approach has historical precedent - the "Masterbuilder" concept was prevalent before the industrial revolution and indigenous peoples from time immemorial have built this way. It has longevity in the various arts and crafts - a practitioner, in most cases, designs and produces a piece of work, whether it is a painting, a piece of furniture, or a piece of jewelry. Unfortunately, this integrated approach is not, however, how most houses are created in today's world.

This joining of the design and construction functions allows you - the customer - greater continuity of service. It also can save you time and money, and helps make you more of a partner in the construction of your home. Design/Build keeps the responsibility in one place. It's very direct - just Koll Custom Homes and the client, working in collaboration, fully responsible to one another. Although many other important contributors are involved, and become part of the team, this central relationship provides clarity and integrity to the complex process of building a home.

Disappearance of the Masterbuilder

For thousands of years the ancient Masterbuilder (known in ancient Greece as "architekton") held sway as the preeminent professional responsible for the built environment. But this status began to erode in the Renaissance period, when artists such as Michaelangelo, having absolutely no understanding of the building arts, started taking on architectural commissions. This set into motion a series of events over a four-hundred-year time frame, that eventually culminated in the astonishing disappearance of the Masterbuilder in the 20th century. His departure was especially brought on by the emergence in 19th century England of two very influential figures: a new kind of businessman known as "the general contractor" and a man named Sir John Soane, father of the modern architecture profession, who insisted that the architect completely separate himself from the building activity. Despite these developments, there were still a few prominent 20th century architects who continued to operate in a Masterbuilder mode, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and the Californian, Bernard Maybeck.

Nevertheless, by the 1900s the ancient Masterbuilder was pretty much gone, to the great detriment of society. In his place was set up two inventions of the modern age: 1) the architect—responsible for design only, but having no hands on knowledge about how a building is really built; and 2) the general contractor—responsible for construction only, but having no genuine knowledge about design. For thousands of years prior to this, design and construction were understood as united in one and the same person and work. But the architect-contractor system did away with all of this, ushering into society a host of problems.

A Different Approach

The Design/Build professional calls for the architect and the builder to move away from "architectural services" (design only) and "construction services" (build only), and to fully embrace the unique Design/Build approach of the ancient Masterbuilder. The uniqueness of this approach must be emphasized. For the Masterbuilder is not today’s architect and contractor banded together side-by-side in a single person. The issues involved are deeper and far more complex. Today's Design/Build professional is very distinct and different from anything known today in the 21st century. As history shows in the beautiful works of the past 5,000 years, this is the way that can lead us to more humane built environments, where people’s real needs and lives truly matter, where a sense of social responsibility in building is much more common. When design and building responsibilities reside in one person—the masterbuilder—then society receives the following benefits:

  • Superior design. This comes from the fact that knowledge about how a building is really built informs the design activity and encourages innovation.
  • Cost control and wise financial stewardship of the project. This comes from the fact that control over both design and construction offers great flexibility to affect project expenses; such an approach limits financial risk to the client by bringing more discipline and predictability to building costs—without destroying artistic integrity.
  • Responsiveness to the project, the client, and emerging patterns of life. This comes from the fact that control over design and construction grants real authority in the work, giving enormous freedom to respond at a moment's notice to opportunities, unforeseen events, and changing circumstances.
  • The return of genuine artistic craftsmanship. This comes from the fact that when design skills reside in the person doing the building, then the building process is completely transformed from one of dull, rote, mechanical installation to one of thinking, innovation, artistic skill, and craftsmanship—that is realistic and affordable.
  • A higher standard for the built environment. This comes from the fact that control over construction and involvement in the building activity grants authority to maintain the project's design integrity and offers freedom to continue designing through the construction phase, at no extra cost, so the building is perfected to a high standard.
By garnering relationships with past customers, we have been able to stay connected to our buildings and our clients and learn from them. Principles have emerged to guide our work and allow us the comfort to explore a variety of interesting design paths. The design/build process has enabled us to develop an intricate web of fulfilling relationships with consultants, subcontractors, regulatory officials, suppliers, and, most of all, clients.