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Is hiring a design and build company more economical

thegiz | Posted in General Questions on

So I have been shopping around for contractors for an addition. I met with 2-3 contractors all said to me they couldn’t give me a price without architectural drawings. Met with their recommended architects and they basically said you have to pay for drawings first and then get bid for work. 

I finally went to a company that does it all under one roof. They can give me a firm price for the entire project but I don’t know if they are way overpriced. My buddy said it is cheaper to get drawings and then go find your own subcontractors. Of course it all depends but can anyone tell me where my ballpark figure should be? I want a 20×20 1 story addition with master bath and bedroom. I really wanted a 2 story garage with master suite above but I was quoted over 200k without adding in renovations to existing house. I live in the suburbs of nyc so it is expensive here. What is a better option, once I get drawings I’m stuck and can’t go back. Thanks for advice.

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  1. jkonst | | #1

    I am not equipped to answer your whole question, but the price you were quoted for garage plus bedroom/en-suite does not sound out of line for the area. I’ve been quoted $85k and $90k for a two-car garage in the Hudson Valley. For living area, I know $/SF is frowned upon as a measure, but I’m seeing $300-$325/SF as the floor for a (nice, high-performance) 2k square foot home - before architect’s fees, site work, etc.

    I’ve spoken almost exclusively with design/build firms as a matter of convenience/practicality. The firm I’m currently working gave me a relatively detailed cost estimate after a small initial design phase (~$2k). And for what it’s worth, combining the design/build practices under one roof definitely seems to be a trend, at least where I’m hoping to build (would be “definitely building” if it wasn’t for the aforementioned high cost!).

  2. Deleted | | #2


  3. buildhelm | | #3

    If you find a design/build firm you like and trust, it can be a great option since they are more familiar with construction costs than most architects and can design to your budget. As the previous response indicated, you should be able to get a preliminary estimate at the end of schematic design, to ensure you are in the right ballpark before you spend more money on full construction documents. Most design/build firms will do a design contract separate from the build contract, so you are not locked in to a final number up front.
    These days the residential building scene is SO busy I’d recommend getting on a waitlist with a builder (or design/builder) as soon as possible, and don’t try to GC it yourself (despite your buddy’s suggestions). The trades are flat out too and they are much more likely to respond to a contractor who they have a working relationship than a random homeowner (I.e. you). Part of what you are paying the GC for is their connections and network of skilled trades.

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