A road map for the DBI process

July 19, 2019 -  By
Final DBI project (Photo: Inside Out Design)

Breaking down the design/build process into steps can help pave the way to a polished final product. (Photo: Inside Out Design)

So, you want to ramp up your design/build + installation (DBI) segment, but you’re not entirely sure where to start. After all, the road to completion for DBI projects can have twists, turns and maybe even a few roadblocks along the way.

We spoke with Andrea Mueller, owner and founder of Inside Out Design in Frankfort, Ky., and Dylan Croftcheck, account manager, project estimator and landscape designer at MMC Land Management in Gibsonia, Pa., to explore how their DBI processes work.

Based on their expertise, we created a road map to help pave the way for your company’s process.

Consult

Sometimes, a prospective client may contact you about a project, but that’s not always a guarantee. Another way to win jobs is to upsell your existing clients.

  • Meet: This step includes a walk-through of the site and/or a sit-down meeting. Mueller says she brings the same list of questions to ask at every new consultation. To ensure a project is worthwhile, some companies charge a consultation fee.
  • Estimate the project: MMC Land Management uses LMN software to price out bids, based on the materials and production rates it’s developed over the past 30 years of being in business.
  • Build a contract: The specifics of each contract vary, but a few items to spell out may include equipment and materials to be used, tentative start and finish dates and price estimates. Inside Out also includes a time frame of what type of work will be included in each phase.
Construction equipment on job site (Photo: Inside Out Design)

Keep tabs
Keeping track of materials, man-hours and equipment can help price out future projects. (Photo: Inside Out Design)

Design

Once you have the client’s needs in mind, it’s time to get rolling on the design itself.

  • To fee or not to fee?: Croftcheck says MMC charges a design fee on a case-by-case basis. Larger projects typically fall into the design-fee category, whereas smaller enhancement jobs do not.
  • Use technology: Design software and services can help aid in the heavy lifting of creating a design. Inside Out uses Vectorworks software, and MMC uses Google SketchUp and DynaScape Software.

Build

It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of constructing your creation. Use these tips to help the process move smoothly.

  • Source material: Once the details are set in stone, it’s time to work with vendors to figure out how much and what material is required, as well as when and where the material is needed.
  • Communicate: Each company stresses that communication is key, both internally and externally. Taking that communication one step further, MMC keeps its account managers involved throughout the entire process. Croftcheck adds that walking the site periodically also helps keep communication issues in check.
  • Keep site info handy: Inside Out Design’s crews carry job folders to each project. The folders include the proposal, drawings, photos and any other necessary information.
  • Track: MMC tracks materials, man-hours and more using LMN’s software. “Good reporting back to the office from the guys in the field helps you bid (future) projects more accurately,” Croftcheck says.
Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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