RJ Martin Electric Blog

Exploring Big Benefits of a Design/Build Approach in Electrical Contracting Projects

RJ Martin Electric is the electrical contractor of choice for hundreds of commercial, industrial, health care, retail and educational projects around Northeast Ohio and the U.S. For some of these projects, we’re called on to execute electrical work based on drawings provided by the general contractor (GC) or end user. For others, we are engaged to provide design/build services. So what’s the difference, and why does it matter?

For traditional building projects, an architect will hire an engineer to produce drawings for a project’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Subcontractors in each of those areas will then bid the project, and those that are awarded the work will utilize those drawings. Yet, they are not traditionally engaged until those drawings are complete and out for bid.

In design/build projects, the subcontractors themselves either have in-house engineering capabilities, or they often are aligned with an outside strategic engineering partner. Collectively, they work with the architect and owner to develop the design and drawings in accordance with that owner’s vision.

For building projects of any size or scope, a GC or end user’s ultimate goals are usually two-fold: get the job done on time and on budget. In this regard, a design/build approach for electrical contracting projects is ideal. Consider the benefits:

  • A truly streamlined approach: It takes time – and lots of meetings – to orchestrate the materials/finished goods submittal process and arrive at finished drawings in most construction projects. In fact, it’s not uncommon for this to occur over multiple weeks. Yet, for design/build projects, those meetings – and that time frame – are drastically reduced, which means less time planning, and more time for construction and ultimately, post-completion usage. Additionally, it takes time to request and process subcontracting bids once the design is complete. With design/build, the design is already complete, your team is set and the project rolls seamlessly from design into construction. As a result, end users can begin to monetize their investments sooner.  
  • One team from inception through completion: This means single-source accountability from electrical contracting specialists you know and trust. There’s no need to search through layers of subcontractor contacts to learn about the status of drawings, schedules or other issues; rather, your design/build electrical contracting firm is the only contact you’ll need to stay on top of the electrical portion of a construction project.
  • Subcontractor engagement throughout the entire process: This deep level of involvement tends to build a strong level of engagement within the electrical contracting firm that’s engaged to do the work. They are relied upon for their expertise; their thoughts, insights and ideas make tangible differences throughout the project, and they maintain strong accountability.  
  • The benefit of diverse experience and expertise: Yes, there are best practices and established ways of completing electrical requirements in any given sector. But electrical contracting firms like RJ Martin Electric that have experience in many different industry sectors often are exposed to alternate approaches that can save time and money. In instances where more than one approach is possible, alternative approaches may in fact be better. This can be a GC’s secret weapon when it comes to staying on time and on budget—or even exceeding those goals.

So what makes an electrical contractor qualified to implement design/build work? Five qualities are most important:

  1. Experience with design/build projects—and experience working in a variety of construction sectors, including commercial, industrial, health care retail and education.
  2. A strong and proven engineering team, whether in-house or through a working alliance.
  3. Flexibility to adjust to design changes and shifts in direction during the design stage.
  4. An ability to conceptualize and visualize the full scope of electrical contracting details in a given project, even with partial drawings—and sometimes, with no drawings at all.
  5. A working knowledge of utility requirements, municipal jurisdiction requirements and more. Additionally, strong design/build firms must be aware of various subcontractor work requirements for HVAC, fire alarm systems and more. These can vary from one jurisdiction to another, so attention to detail is critical.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps you understand the benefits of design/build in the electrical contracting realm, and the key qualities that distinguish outstanding electrical contracting firms in this area. If you seek an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail project, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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