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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Design / Build project?

It is a performance-oriented project wherein a client and contractor agree that the contractor will take complete responsibility for the design and installation of a particular environmental or specialty system to satisfy the client's outline requirements for a specific dollar amount and within a given period of time.

How does Design / Build differ from a conventional "plan and spec" project?

In a Design / Build scenario the contractor assumes the sole responsibility for design and construction on a given project. He proposes a complete system and complement of services, and is not simply bidding on what is contained in a set of drawings or specification prepared by a consultant.

Given the right conditions for a Design / Build project, what are the advantages?

  1. Sole source responsibility; if there's a problem, the contractor is responsible to fix it.
  2. A straight-forward approach to design with greater flexibility.
  3. Easier to identify and control costs.
  4. Minimal extra charges.
  5. Better quality control.
  6. Coordination of tasks usually simpler.
  7. More personal, one-to-one service.
  8. Early assignment of skilled trades workers.
  9. Participation by the client in selection of materials.
  10. Rapid response to changes in scope with minimal paper work.

What are the Design / Build contractor's responsibilities?

  1. To quote on work within his area of expertise.
  2. To state clearly in his proposal exactly what will be done, what is not included, what the price will be and what the schedule will be.
  3. To produce a functional, calibrated and adjusted system that actually functions completely to the satisfaction of the client.

What are the client's responsibilities?

  1. Treat the Design / Build proposal as confidential; do not "shop" the proposal on the open market.
  2. Pre-qualify contractors and check the references of those submitting proposals.
  3. Pay the successful contractor for the work he does.

Why doesn't a Design / Build contractor sell design services alone?

It ties up his design staff and, therefore, may represent a loss of alternate Design / Build business. Design services usually return insufficient overhead to carry a contracting business which has expenses such as tooling, equipment, insurance, etc. Further, the typical Design / Build contractor does not carry liability insurance to cover his designs if they are installed by someone else.

How do corporate purchasing agents usually handle Design / Build contracts?

Purchasing agents often solicit a proposal from a qualified Design / Build contractor based upon outline specifications generated by the engineers on his staff. The proposal is treated as a confidential disclosure by the contractor and typically includes details on labor rates and fees and other information such as design concepts, overall feasibility, experience record, references, current workload commitments and general ability to perform the work. Such a process assures the client that a contractor has been selected on the basis of "best value" instead of solely "lowest bid."

Is it possible to use a specific Design / Build contractor and retain competitive prices?

Yes! Contractors will typically agree to provide a complete design and construct project on a "guaranteed maximum" basis. They will agree to charge no more than a given amount, assuming the scope does not change during the project. If their costs are less than originally estimated, savings are passed on to the client on a pre-agreed basis. The client often participates in decisions regarding equipment and materials on the basis of best value, not necessarily just low price. Many corporate engineers and purchasing directors agree that this is the best way of utilizing the contractor he selected for the job while still retaining control over quality and costs.

What should be the criteria for pre-qualifying and selecting a Design / Build contractor?

Questions must be asked regarding experience, financial strength, quality of workmanship, staff availability and manpower profile. Visits to representative projects and the contractor's base of operations should also be considered.

Is Van Dyken Mechanical, Inc. a qualified Design / Build contractor?

Yes! Qualified, insured, licensed, financially healthy, experienced (over 60 years), properly staffed and ready to provide references and initial consultation free of charge.

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