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  • Writer's pictureAdam Lans

The Design-Build Advantage

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Design-Build is the most efficient and cost effective way to build a custom home.

Design–build is a project delivery method in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the "design–builder" or "design–build contractor. " Sometimes this simply means a firm has a design team and builders operating under the same entity, sometimes it means the architect has an exclusive relationship with a builder, or a contractor employs designers. At Tight Knot, the architect and builder is actually the same person, meaning Tight Knot is the purest form of design-build, giving our clients the optimal method of creating a home.

Tight Knot was founded by Adam Lans who is both an architect and a builder, so his design sense is directly informed by his knowledge of construction. This means Tight Knot can create unique and beautiful homes for a much lower cost than the traditional approach allows.

Typically, people shop for house plans online or hire an architect to draw custom plans, and then they take those plans to a contractor who tries to follow those plans and build the house. Architects today are trained only as communicators of design, a limitation that often leads to projects being over-budget because the architect does not have a deep understanding of what labor and material costs are. Since the architect is just getting paid to design, there isn’t a big incentive to think much about the budget (after all, that’s the contractor’s job). And pre-designed plans will almost always have to be manipulated to fit the constraints of the site, such as the slope, environmental setbacks, or unique landscape and access conditions. When a house is not designed for the site, various conditions can mean the house plan must be modified to fit, which adds time and money. When items are added onto the project, it can become very costly as it can mean engineering changes to the original plans. In the end, the costs for manipulating a pre-made plan will not be worth it in most circumstances. A pre-made plan also means the home is not unique and will not be truly connected to the place where it sits.

Because a design-builder does both jobs, it ensures that our clients won’t be paying for the difference when there are discrepancies between the design and the execution of the project. Design-build eliminates the need to pay the huge up-front design fees that an architect charges. It also eliminates those secondary design fees that will most certainly occur when the builder finds problems with the architect’s initial design. In addition, the design-build method enables more designing on the fly, which can lead to wonderful design elements. We tend to keep a lot of our design decisions relatively loose, so we don’t end up overcharging. We also minimize renderings early in the process, which saves money.

Due to our philosophy of developing spaces first, we tend to focus on making a tight structure with a coherent organization of spaces that can be approved quickly by the building department. As the build develops, and we start to see things that only the real place can reveal, and there are natural times to create more cost efficient renderings, and discuss finishes. A major advantage of design-build, is that we can time everything in a cost effective manner and have a seamless workflow. From the beginning of the design process, to the day they move in, we are committed to meeting our clients' needs.

Adam Lans is an architect, carpenter, and general contractor. At Tight Knot, the person who designs your home, also builds your home.

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