frequently asked questions
WHAT IS DESIGN + BUILD?
“Design-build is a method of project delivery in which one entity - the design-build team - works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services.” This is the definition from The Design-Build Institute of America.
In our case, design + build is a bit more personal. From your first meeting with Steve Berg, through feasibility, budgeting, design, final pricing, and construction you have Berg’s full attention as well as his team’s. Berg has a reputation for creative solutions respecting the architectural integrity of your home as he works with you to discover the best solutions for your family. He brings his thirty-five years of experience in design and building along with his professional training in fine art to the drawing table. With Berg your project won’t be turned over to a draftsman for design then a project manager for construction. Steve Berg personally designs every project ensuring that your needs and concerns are translated into the drawings and specifications. He also manages each construction project to ensure that what was designed is carried out without compromise.
HOW DOES DESIGN + BUILD WORK?
The first step is an introductory meeting with Steve Berg at your home. We discuss your goals and ideas about how to achieve them.
Our second step is to develop a feasibility study. This study includes a basic design concept, a list of specifications, a detailed budget analysis, and a timeline for implementation.
After review and refinement of the feasibility study, we begin the detailed process of design. We meet several times through this process to review the plans, discuss options, ask and answer questions. It is our goal that by the conclusion you will have as vivid an image of your completed home as possible.
As a part of the design process we also work together on selections. We guide you through this process with direction and consultation or we work with your decorator. In either case, we make sure that you feel comfortable with each decision before proceeding.
With plans completed and most of the selections determined, we finalize costs and prepare for construction. Through the design process we discuss the logistical considerations of construction so that when we begin the work you are prepared for each phase of the building process.
ARE BERG'S PRICES COMPETITIVE?
Of course this question implies quality. It probably isn’t news to anyone that the quality of construction materials and craftsmanship is not what is used to be. This is not necessarily due to unavailability as much as market demand. Cheaper methods and materials are constantly entering the marketplace. The new products are designed to compensate for lower skill levels. Skilled workers are then forced out by lower cost, unskilled workers. This spiral has continued since World War II unabated.
We believe that maintaining high quality at a reasonable price begins with design. We don’t build “cheap”, we design “hard”. By this we mean that through the design process we strive to take advantage of the unique conditions of the site and our client’s needs to bring about the best result. It means that we must think creatively, looking for the distinctive opportunities in each project. After we have determined the best solution for your home we will articulate this vision within our standard systems and methods to
ensure that time and materials are not wasted “reinventing the wheel”.
We use highly trained and experienced tradesmen for all our skilled work. Though one may pay a premium for experience, a craftsman’s expertise often translates into cost savings in time and materials.
To answer the question simply, our projects combine creative solutions, without compromises, at a fair price. One can pay more and get little for the additional cost but he will not pay less and receive the high quality we provide.
HOW MUCH DOES BERG DESIGN + bUILD COST?
We view the establishment of budgets to be as important to a plan’s development as the drawings and specifications. Truly, one doesn’t really have a plan without a budget.
Given the importance of budgets we include a detailed budget as part of the feasibility study. The format established in this preliminary budget follows through to final pricing and construction.
Our design + build projects are always “open-book”. You see our direct costs throughout the budget process and you are always welcome to review any invoices from construction.
Most of our construction contracts are fixed price. There is security in knowing the cost before building and this also encourages both parties to make decisions well in advance of implementation.
That said, there are sometimes areas of a project that cannot be determined until construction has begun. We identify any unknowable aspects of the work, and establish realistic budgets for them with the understanding that final costs will need to be determined once the areas have been uncovered.
Changes are the bane of construction for both the builder and the owner. It is our goal to ensure that we communicate and plan with you through the design process so well that changes are not necessary during construction.
That said, there are times when we uncover an unanticipated problem during construction or you want to change something after it is built. When this occurs we work with you to ensure that the change is made at the least expense and time necessary. Given this possibility, it is prudent to allow a budget for changes. Three to five percent is adequate for most projects.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH BERG?
Finding professionals to help with a major construction project can be one of the most complex shopping experiences of your life. It isn’t designed for the consumer. The process is somewhat like commissioning a portrait. In both cases you have an idea of what you want but you will have spent most of your money before you see what you purchased.
Berg Building is a design-build firm, but unlike many design-build companies we are impassioned by both design and construction. In selecting Steve Berg you will be choosing the creative mind of a professional artist, the heart of a builder steeped in the construction trades, and the experience of a businessman who has managed the construction of hundreds of homes over the past thirty years. In addition, you are choosing a team of talented, caring tradesmen who not only honor their crafts but also value the families they build for.
THERE ARE SO MANY DECISIONS TO BE MADE IN THE PROCESS. HOW DOES BERG HELP US?
We provide you with an outline of the selection decisions that will be made along with resources. We also facilitate the process by meeting at showrooms, providing direction and opinion. We can recommend an interior designer or work with your designer though the process. If you plan to work with an interior designer, we try to bring him or her into the process early to ensure the best outcome.
HOW LONG DOES THE DESIGN + BUILD PROCESS TAKE?
Construction time obviously depends upon the scope and complexity of the work. A schedule for construction will be developed as part of the feasibility study. The schedule will be further refined after the design is completed.
The design development schedule will be dictated mostly by your needs and availability. The planning process tends to take about as long as construction but we are typically able to produce the work much quicker if desired.
HOW DOES A NEGOTIATED CONTRACT DIFFER FROM A COMPETITIVE BID APPROACH?
The concept of competitive bids for construction projects is very appealing. The assumption is that bidders are able to consider a specified scope of work and determine the cost of production accurately. Then the best price wins.
The difficulty with competitive bids for custom home construction and remodeling is accurately defining the scope of work well enough to receive comparable bids from reputable contractors. It is quite costly to develop documents with the quantity of detail necessary to ensure solid, comparable bids. Secondly, by attempting to establish solid bid documents it is necessary to define construction methods and procedures in ways that will increase the cost of production for any bidder. Put simply, all builders develop methods and systems for production. If they are forced by the bid documents to substantially modify those systems it will raise their costs and that will be reflected in their bids.
The alternative to this method is a negotiated contract. Using this method the owner will interview contractors and negotiate the final price and scope of work with the contractor who best fits his or her needs. When working with a reputable builder, the owner can typically achieve the best value. The owner benefits from the builder’s experience in refining the scope of work, while the builder uses his normal methods and systems ensuring the best value to the owner.
HOW DO I MAKE SURE THAT I AM GETTING THE BEST PRICES WHEN USING A NEGOTIATED CONTRACT SYSTEM?
It is very important that any agreement to pursue a negotiated contract includes provisions that allow the owner to review the builder’s direct costs. Even if the owner doesn’t choose to employ this clause it will still encourage the builder to maintain his books and be ready to defend costs.
A negotiated contract must include a breakout of the builder’s management fee. Depending upon the scope of work this fee may be based upon a percentage of the direct costs or a lump sum. We prefer a lump sum management fee whenever possible. This encourages both parties to define the scope of the work as tightly as possible in advance.
Depending on the specific trade or material it may or may not be appropriate to request your builder to obtain several quotes. Some labor and supplies are consistent enough to ensure that quality can be maintained regardless of the source. But in custom work many subcontractors and suppliers are integral team members and their replacement has ramifications beyond their direct scope.
HOW MUCH PREPARATION SHOULD I DO BEFORE i TALK TO BERG?
Some clients have completed plans that haven’t worked for reasons of budget or preference. At the other end of the spectrum are those who have just begun discussing the possibilities for their house. In either case we will work to develop the best solution for your family and your home.
That said, it is great if you have been looking for the things you like. Traditionally our clients have used magazines and books, perhaps developing a scrapbook of the things they find. Increasingly clients are using Houzz.com or Pinterest.com to find images and manage them.
Concerning budgets, some clients are very firm about how much they want to spend. Others want to consider the design possibilities before discussing the costs. If you have a budget range or a maximum you will spend it is best to tell us before we begin to look at the design options. If you choose to explore design first, we will still establish budgets before committing too much time to design development.