Process

Levitch Associates offers full design/build services from architecture through construction for residential and light commercial projects. We are both architects and general contractors with a depth and breadth of experience in the greater Berkeley area and beyond. Our work is inherently “green” as we are typically transforming existing spaces into ones that work better for our clients. From our office operations through construction, we embrace sustainable practices and are a member of the California Green Business Network.

What Is Design/Build?

Levitch Design/Build Model

 

Integrated:

 

  • One professional team responsible for the success of your project from conception to completion
  • Clear roles, responsibilities and accountability
  • Joins strategy and craft, so project results align with client objectives
  • Design decisions are informed and improved by knowledge of fabrication options, tools and techniques. Architects experienced in construction develop designs that are feasible to build.
  • “Value Engineering” at conceptual stages rather than too late, after project design is complete
  • Client and architect can make decisions together when the relevant information is actually available, typically much earlier in the process.
  • The client retains more influence over the design, and is more informed during construction.
  • Since subcontractors are engaged early and often to assess efficiencies, opportunity costs, cost/benefit, payback rates and quality options, their input informs overall design decisions from the outset. Building performance is measured early too, so that tradeoffs between budget, schedule, functionality and usability can inform specification and continuous refinement of the design.
  • Greater cost savings and earlier cost certainty
  • Shortened permit processing time
  • Reduced Architecture fee as a result of streamlined communication from Design through Construction
  • Reduced risk to the client (because the design/build firm assumes more). Fewer disputes and less litigation.
  • Reduced risk to design consultants and subcontractors which results in lower construction costs, greater efficiencies and fewer litigation claims
  • Contractors sensitive to design are better builders. Construction will more likely match a client’s objectives if it follows an overall design intention.
  • Faster response time and lower construction cost for Owner-initiated changes. Architects involved and in control of the construction of your project can make adjustments and enhancements during the construction phase without necessarily increasing cost, and without the delays involved in the traditional architect-contractor model. This ability often adds to the success of the project.
  • Fewer possibilities for change orders not requested by Owner
  • Better communication and higher quality outcomes due to mutual investment in the success of the project

 

Traditional Architect/Contractor Model

 

Separate/Specialized:

 

  • At least two entities whose goals or methods may not match
  • Responsibilities may be unclear and finger-pointing is more likely
  • Design is detached from construction; there is typically little to no “cross-pollination” between architecture and construction.

 

  • There may be a gap between what is designed and how it can best be built, or how the contractor wants to build.
  • Architects may make speculative choices without accurate cost or technical information.
  • Clients may make decisions only at review milestones.
  • Client, architect and contractor get to know each other during the more stressful and expensive construction process.

 

  • Subcontractors are contacted once the project is ready for pricing.

 

 

  • Contractors need a higher level of detail to provide a realistic price, which takes more of the client’s time and money, especially if revisions are later needed to align design, budget and scope.
  • More coordination needed between architect and contractor = more time
  • Client priorities and the thought process behind design decisions are not shown on construction drawings.

 

  • Missed or inconsistent information between architect and contractor may result in change orders.

Getting Started

Even the “simplest” project has unique factors, whether in goals, scope or property details. To understand your needs, we start with a conversation about your potential project. From there we will determine the next step(s) in considering your project, often a meeting or consultation.

Consulting Services

We offer hourly consultation. This service is appropriate for pre-purchase home inspections or when our client is interested in learning about specific design possibilities or feasibility before committing to the standard design process.

Architecture

While Levitch is a builder and we understand that clients may focus on the “end product” of a new or remodeled space, every project starts with architecture. Architecture uses drawings both to explore design options that meet the client’s goals and to define a project for pricing, permitting and construction.

As Architects we take design seriously. We adhere to the AIA Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct established by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). We are charged with maintaining our professional obligations to ourselves, our colleagues, our community, the environment, and last but not least our clients. Without you, our clients, we would not be able to practice our profession at all.

After an initial meeting and/or tour of the project site, we can prepare a customized Proposal and Agreement for Architectural Services. It is our goal early in the process to develop design solutions that satisfy the Project Program and determine if the designs can be constructed within budget.

The Proposal and Agreement includes:

  • Project Program (goals) as given to us by the Owner or as interpreted by us
  • Owners’ Construction Budget if known
  • A Description of Services to be performed for a fixed fee:
    • Task 1 – Pre-Design (PD)
      Preparation needed to start designing
    • Task 2 – Schematic Design (SD)
      We find that the design process is one of the most enjoyable parts of a project. While developing the Schematic Design(s) we think through the entire project considering all aspects: program, budget, construction means and methods, materials, green building strategies, schedule, and applicable planning and permitting issues. We guide the client in understanding how and why we arrive at the solution(s), then listen and revise the design(s) as needed. We encourage clients to participate in design meetings.

      • Meetings can be at our offices or onsite.
      • We can often communicate through email or phone after the first meeting.
      • We revise the design solution(s) until the owner accepts the most desirable design.
    • Task 3 – Estimate of Probable Cost for Construction (EPC)
      If we are not able to develop a Schematic Design that meets the Owner’s Budget, then we revise the design, scope, and budget to see if we can get to that point. If we cannot reach a consensus, we terminate the agreement and the Owner is able to keep any relevant work product.
    • Task 4 – Design Development (DD) and Construction Documents (CDs)
      This Task occurs after the Owner accepts the Schematic Design and Estimate of Probable Construction Cost and authorizes this work. We develop the approved design into drawings suitable for permitting and construction.

For more about how integrated design/build services work and their advantages, click here.

Construction

Levitch Associates is a licensed general contractor qualified to manage and execute all of the details of your construction project at a high level of craftsmanship. We specialize in building projects we have designed, and have completed hundreds of design/build projects since the early 1960s. There are a number of benefits to Levitch design/build projects.

If we build your project, we will sign an agreement that will include:

  • Description of the project
  • Cost to complete the work
  • Estimated project duration

While we have always been aware that in construction we are responsible for generating a large amount of Construction and Demolition (C and D) Waste, we have done our part to reuse and recycle over the years. Since 2004 we have become more formally involved with green building through education, certifications and our commitment to maintaining and improving our physical environment and that of our employees and clients. We bring our experience to each project by considering green building design, techniques, and products together as part of the whole project.

Advantages to Building Green

  • Less waste: more construction and demolition waste is reused or recycled
  • Lower energy and water use reduces the need for power generation and can lower utility bills
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Better indoor air quality (IAQ)
  • Can enhance property value and reduce operating and maintenance costs