There are many differences between a conventional architecture firm and an architecture-construction (what we offer at BuildSense) or design-build firm. I suppose the main distinction is fairly evident; the design-build firm builds their own designs rather than handing them off to another construction company. I just wrapped up my summer as one of two interns at BuildSense and have come to learn of many other advantages to the structure of a design-build firm.
Design-build provides the opportunity for much better quality control. When the architect is the general contractor or the two are team members working on the project together from design inception to construction completion, there is no lack of communication or understanding of the construction documents and specifications as may happen in the traditional separation of roles. By working alongside each other, possible problems can be caught earlier and resolved before they affect other aspects of the project. This increased channel of communication also helps with the progression of the project. Avoiding problems or resolving them more quickly results in a better project pace.
If quality control, communication, and project progression are high priorities for a project, design-build is a very good option. All three benefits depend on design-build teamwork. Having both skills in-house removes the gaps in the process and leads to a better project and a happy client.