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Can I Use a General Contractor for My Commercial Building Project Design or Should I Hire an Architect?

Each phase of your new commercial building project is important – obviously. That being said, it could be argued that no step is as crucial as coming up with an efficient design. Once you’ve nailed down a blueprint that fits a function, a budget, and a feasibility the rest of the project just involves putting that plan into action. On the contrary if you have a poor initial design, the builders can only do so much in their attempt to make the project a success – often compromising budget and timelines in the process.

Another asset of pinpointing your design in the initial project phase is that things can be fine-tuned on paper instead of on-the-fly, during the build, or worse retro-fitted. Working off a design that is feasible and features few deviations over the course of the build can save thousands to millions of dollars and is the best way to ensure the project finishes ahead of deadline.

The importance of a quality design brings up a huge question however – do you hire an architect or do you entrust your general contractor to devise a plan? Some clients may be inclined to simply go with an architect as a form of safety blanket but in actuality your GC is a more reliable source to come up with the project plans. And the reasons why make sense:

The General Contractor Knows Their Build Capabilities

One term you’ll encounter when designing your commercial project build is ‘best practices.’ What this basically means is that just because a process can be done a certain way doesn’t mean it should be. When you work with a general contractor to establish a design, they generate the plans based on what is their most efficient and familiar way to build. If an architect has no contact with a GC they have no idea of what they are capable of and what must be sourced out.

Cuts Costs

An extension of the benefit of contractors knowing their capabilities is lowered project costs overall. A GC isn’t going to call-out a process that is going to involve extensive sub-contracting, equipment rental, is beyond the realm of normal building practices, and is going to ultimately extend the finish deadline. A streamlined, efficient design established based on the contractors capabilities is going to be on time, on budget, and to spec.

Everybody is on the Same Page

Some – granted, not all – architects and designers can be pretty steadfast in their blueprint being Gospel. They might not have known about alternative ways to accomplish a particular aspect of the project or they may be relying on their data telling them the called-out process is the best method. Things don’t always correlate between computer screen and job site however. When a general contractor sees a more efficient way to accomplish the same end goal, they should be able to proceed that way without having to ‘persuade’ the architect that a better method exists.

Basically, entrusting your general contractor to devise the design plan reduces your points of contact, eliminates various middle men, greatly lowers cost, guarantees deadlines are met, and ensures best build processes are enacted. At the very minimum, bring in your general contractor for design assistance with the architect. For the most part though, your best practice is allowing the GC to mark out the most efficient way for your project to meet all your end goals by allowing them to create the design.

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