Why design-and-build is a good fit for Cayman

Many people are racing to create their dream home in Cayman. The reasons are abundant: great lifestyle, high standard of living and desirable communities. With no taxes in Cayman and a secure and established land registry and professional infrastructure, the possibilities and potential for property development are clear.

When it comes to creating a dream-home in Cayman, instead of looking for a finished property, many people are deciding to build there own home. Not only does this allow people to create exactly what they want, but there can also be significant cost savings; not least because stamp duty is only payable on the land (rather than the property which is yet to be built), and because it means the latest cost-efficient energy and home systems can be installed.

To approach the renovation or new-build of your property, there are a number of routes you can take, and you should consider your options carefully to work out which one is right for you.

Design, bid and build

This is a traditional approach to building or renovating a custom home. Here you will begin by choosing and engaging an architect who will create a design blueprint for the new home. Once this design is complete, you will put the construction works out to tender and allow a variety of contractors to bid for the work. This is advantageous insofar as it allows you to choose the lowest bid, and go with that general contractor who will then undertake all of the works.  

This approach can, however, leave you with a great deal of management and decision making to do, with no-one else at the helm. Alternatively, you could engage a project manager to take care of this and help you secure the best value as opposed to the lowest bids and also continue the relationship and coordination with your architect. 

One drawback of this approach is the separation of design and development. This can lead to issues of cost uncertainty as the costs aren't known until the bids come in, by which point, the architect's designs are already complete.

Full project management

To save time, money and stress, a project manager can be brought on-board at the outset. The project manager will coordinate the design and development of the property: working with architect and designers, through to contractors and specialists. 

Instead of signing over to a general contractor, individual specialist providers will be engaged who offer the best value and best fit for each specific element of the job. The project manager with coordinate all of these individual contractors and ensure that the build is carried out in accordance with the plans and the expectations of the client.

The project manager can keep control and costs and quality. By being onsite, they are able to provide quality assurance and minimise the risk of issues arising later in the project. This is why it is essential to select an experienced project manager who can intervene where necessary and shares your high standards and expectations. 

However, this approach does mean that the owner retains the risks in terms of both time and budget and so this could leave you exposed, especially if this is your first project.

Design and build

Increasingly clients are looking for a comprehensive design and build service for greater consistency, security and cost savings. 

In design and build, there is no separation between the design team and the build team. This means that both creativity and costs are in focus right from the start. 

This also means that almost all of the decision-making is done at the outset. This achieves outcomes which are more aligned with the clients' vision and budget, and minimises the need for change-orders which are invariably costly and often cause both delays and frustration.

Having the architect, general contractor and interior designers all under one roof also allows for creative synergies rather than divergences to occur. 

The client will also feel relieved that they only have to deal with one entity - the design and build firm. This relationship is important and requires trust and transparency, so again, you must ensure that you are comfortable with the firm and the individuals involved before embarking on this approach.

We have seen that the design and build approach has helped clients achieve exactly what they want from their homes. They have the freedom to make changes but without the burden of endless decision-making over a long-period. The decisions are made upfront with all of the experts around the table to ensure that both creativity and fair costs are achieved and dream homes are realised. This is particularly important because you need experts that can think globally but know and understand the specific and unique characteristics and challenges of building and living in Cayman.