True Quality: How Design Influences Budget, Schedule, and Client Satisfaction During Construction

True Quality: How Design Influences Budget, Schedule, and Client Satisfaction During Residential and Commercial Construction

Did you know that 8 out of 10 times, the overall quality of your project depends on design? Put another way: 80% of quality issues during production in any industry are due to design – or lack thereof! In every other manufacturing business, design isn't only aesthetic; it’s an essential component of Total Quality Management and is used to optimize reduction of cost, time, and resources during new construction, renovation, or remodeling.  And this is why design is quickly becoming  a topic of solution to help bridge the gap for longer term solutions of the labor shortage!

When building a house or commercial property, design is often seen as an expense, rather than the solution to make a project run on time and on budget. But hold up! There are more than just a few elements in the construction process that are influenced by the design. Think: ordering, scheduling, budgets, lead times, and more. THIS is why design is an integral part of the overall quality of the project.

The Old-School Process

There are three inherent problems with the old-school builder’s process for design selections (the same process used by most designers too). You know the process I'm talking about – the calendar of deadlines for selections to be made all throughout construction. It does NOT work for today's client.  

#1-  Design is not an isolated decision. Making each selection on the fly makes design control very difficult and unnecessarily time consuming. When I spoke at IBS Orlando- I used this graphic- purposefully knowing it was about the ugliest and hardest to read slide on the planet.  I took countertops as an example and listed the items affected by countertops.  Then you start to list the selections influenced by those selections.  Pretty soon- all the items are highlighted and you realize how the whole home design down to the exterior is influence by countertops.  

#2- Budget control depends on design details. Our biggest complaint from clients is the builder's inability to help them control the budget– since you are the expert, they expect you to help them stay in control. While some builders get close to the budget, it is really easier all around to just be exact.    

#3- Delay is the third problem of the old-school selection process. In addition to making the client very happy, avoiding unnecessary delay will save the client money too. They can use that money for finishing touches on the house that will make it a much better portfolio piece for both of us!

New and Improved! A Design-Centric Process

The good news is, there are solutions to the problems inherent to the old-school process. Here are four ways to reduce the issues that come when design is an afterthought:

#1 Complete the Design Phase BEFORE building begins.

We’ve worked with builders who do the design process both ways- the old-school way and the design-centric process. Clients LOVE the second. When the project is controlled, planned, and bid in advance, they feel like they are getting excellent service. On the other hand, they get really frustrated when design is left to some obnoxious, on-the-fly schedule – and they tell us all about it!


#2 Bid actual design specs and drawings PRIOR to pouring foundation.

One of the key reasons for completing the design upfront is to make sure budgets are accurate so adjustments can be made – before it’s too late! On luxury home and commercial projects, we always have all the design specifications and drawings complete and request builders to bid the actuals. Bidding to actual specifications to avoid unnecessary overruns is the key to serving clients.

#3 Get the right designer.

You know you need design to protect against 80% of quality issues in production. That puts a lot of weight in selecting the right designer! The wrong designer isn’t going to help your company vision or make the process easier. The right designer will keep Total Quality Management top of mind.

We’ve done the research, and we’ve created a Designer Checklist outlining  the 10 most important things to consider when looking for the RIGHT designer. Download this free resource.     

#4 Make the designer part of the company vision.

True quality happens through consistency and process – choosing a designer is only step one. When the design team and builder work together to create a process that guides their client and ensures they are taken care of in every aspect, that is true quality – and that creates a truly happy client!

Liv like you mean it,



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