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  • Writer's pictureTom Miller, CCIM

Building to Suit? Here’s Why You Need a Design-Build Manager

As the economy continues to rebound and new building is now strong again, many Western markets are experiencing a shortage of available locations for new business. Northern Nevada is no exception, and with  space becoming limited, an alternative is to build. In the build-to-suit world, there is the traditional approach, the aggressive approach, and the strategic approach. When the goal is a streamlined process, significantly reduced project costs and an excellent facility that offers real value to its owner, here’s why the strategic approach – the one that involves a design-build manager – is the most successful.

The Traditional Build to Suit Approach

When a business owner is ready to build a facility specifically to suit the need of the company, the traditional course of action is to choose a designer builder and move forward. There is a huge potential drawback to working with a single entity, however, and that is the inherent risk that the owner will never know if he’s getting the best design, the best possible price and the best value. When you don’t shop around, that’s the risk you take.

The Aggressive Build to Suit Approach

It would seem that accepting multiple design-build proposals would solve the problem of the traditional approach outlined above. But consider this: when a designer-builder is forced to compete for a project, he understands that bottom-line price is a critical factor in the selection process. In most instances, that builder will take all avenues to reach the lowest possible price for an owner’s project. And while that may sound good at first, it can ultimately mean a sacrifice on scope and quality. And, what’s worse, is that the owner likely won’t discover this until much later, when price change orders suddenly appear in response to requests for higher quality materials and changes. It’s with dawning dread that the owner will realize his “low bidder” doesn’t have such a low price anymore.

The Strategic Build to Suit Approach

When the business owner uses a qualified design-build manager, he’s found himself a way to closely control the design-build process from the initial meeting through to project completion – and the multitude of steps in between.

The creation of a design-build bidding specification is one of the many services an experienced design-build manager offers. This hybrid document that not only carefully defines the project requirements, it’s skillfully written in such a way as to allow the creativity of the designer-builder to find solutions to the owner’s project in a cost-effective way that is apples-to-apples to all the other bids on the  project. The upshot of such a document is the significant advantage it gives the owner during the bidding process.

Bid analysis is another area where a qualified design-build manager shines. Parsing the language in proposals is critical to ensure that the owner’s requests – laid out in the bidding documents – will be met.

When the bottom line matters most, the benefits of using a design-build manager are just as notable. Consider this breakdown:


Option one is a cost breakdown for hiring an architectural firm with little to no experience in the industrial world (the traditional approach). Option two is hiring a builder who works with a handful (or fewer) architectural firms, and who will choose one with which to move forward on your project (another traditional approach). Option three is using a design-build manager to find the best possible builder-designer without sacrificing quality (the strategic approach).

If you’re ready to learn more about the value of using a build-design manager, we invite you to contact us today.

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Miller Industrial Properties, Sparks, Reno, Nevada
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