When is it necessary to hire an architect for a residential project in Michigan? Is design-build in my best interest instead?

Lansing, MI Design Build Firm, K. Fedewa Builders
When entering into a new construction or remodeling project, most homeowners would question where to start. Since every project needs construction drawings, you might assume that you start by calling an architect. But is that really a necessary expense as part of a successful build project? Currently, it is not necessary to hire an architect in Michigan for a residential home with a habitable space of less than 3500 square feet. Even this is rare, as Michigan is only one of eight states requiring a seal on any sized residential home. In fact, when you have a two-party project with both an Architect and a Builder, their tends to be a unique set of challenges that arise throughout the process. Managing those challenges become the headache of the homeowner.

According to the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), in traditional project delivery, “The Owner must manage two separate contracts which all-too-often creates an adversarial relationship between the designer and the contractor. If something goes wrong or an unforeseen circumstance requires changes, the designer and contractor blame one another for the cost overruns or schedule changes, often leading to litigation and delays which add to the project cost.”

Ultimately, the work on the home would be performed by a contractor. This contractor is presumably licensed and insured, and will be pulling the necessary building permits. As mentioned in the ARCHITECTS, PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AND SURVEYORS; REVISE ARTICLE 20 EXEMPTION. House Bill 5819 as enrolled, Public Act 495 of 2002, Third Analysis (6-21-02):

According to committee testimony, Michigan is one of eight states that requires an architect’s seal on a set of residential construction plans. In contrast, most states exempt single family home construction, regardless of size, from the need for an architect’s seal. The specialized training of an architect or engineer is not needed in home construction, because builders who design homes build to meet the specifications found in the building code, using those explicit specifications to ensure safe foundations, adequate floor joist size, and sturdy floor spans. Further, the builders generally order roof trusses from a truss company, and those trusses are designed by the company’s structural engineer who advises the homebuilder about the need for additional support, or bearing points. These precautions are customary, because when homebuilders design the home, they take full responsibility for the safety of the dwelling, and they alone bear the legal liability for the home’s solid construction.

On the other hand, the DBIA states that in design-build project relationship, “The Owner manages only one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work together from the beginning, as a team, providing unified project recommendations to fit the Owner’s schedule and budget. Any changes are addressed by the entire team, leading to collaborative problem-solving and innovation, not excuses or blame-shifting. While single-source contracting is the fundamental difference between design-build and the old ways, equally important is the culture of collaboration inherent in design-build.”

Design-build construction helps minimize owner risk, saves money, and increases speed of completion of projects. Everything about design-build is geared toward efficiency and innovation while bringing tremendous benefits to the homeowner. Design-build increases both construction speed and delivery speed as there is one entity, with one contract, and one unified workflow from initial consultation through completion. It also helps save money by keeping costs down from not hiring multiple companies, cutting down material waste, eliminating downtime, and reducing risk of errors and mistakes. This is why working with a Design-Build Contractor like K. Fedewa Builders is both less expensive and more efficient to the project.

K. Fedewa Builders is a true design-build construction company, allowing homeowners to deal with one team. Rather than the homeowner being responsible for the communication, coordination, contracts, and administrative tasks, the project burden is all placed on K. Fedewa Builders. However, this doesn’t mean the homeowner loses control of the project and we make all of the decisions. The owner remains 100% in control of the project, while our on-staff designer and selections coordinator guide them and act on their behalf. We are not here to control what you can and cannot do. We are here to support you and ensure your project is made easier.

Hiring the right design-build firm is key, being the essential first step in your remodeling or addition project. At. K. Fedewa Builders, we have decades of experience as a design-build company who will lead you throughout the process and ensure that your project meets or exceeds your desires. In fact, K. Fedewa Builders has developed a proven process that puts you, the homeowner, in the driver’s seat throughout the project, giving you control to ensure that the design and the budget meet your expectations. Our Process includes:

  1. First Phone Call: We listen to your needs, ask lots of questions and explain our process.
  2. First Meeting: We meet with you on site to discuss your ideas/vision, look over space, more fully explain our Process and answer any questions.
  3. Project Development: Once a trusting rapport is created, we step into the development stage – pre-construction process. You’ll be confidently guided through design & budgeting for each element of the project.
  4. Mobilization & Construction: With design approval, the construction contract is signed and mobilization begins – K. Fedewa Builders handles all the details. Our goal is to create a predictable and stress-free remodeling experience.
  5. Construction Complete: The construction process concludes with the final walk through together with you, making sure you are 100% satisfied. Now, your warranty period begins.  Enjoy your new space with peace of mind.

Now that you’ve brushed up on what design-build construction is, and why an architect probably isn’t in your best interest, it’s time to turn your dreams into reality. Hiring us, a design-build firm, will help increase project speed, reduce costs, increase collaboration, reduce risks, and minimize mistakes. Stop just seeing your dream home on TV and start living in it. Call K. Fedewa Builders today to schedule your design consultation: 517-388-6123. You can see examples of our work by visiting our website at https://kfedewabuilders.com/.


Article by David Glaeser and Kelly Smith