What Is Design/Build? An Insider’s Guide to Design/Build Construction

We’re guessing if you clicked on this article, it’s because you are a homeowner who wants to know more about Design/Build and how it relates to home addition projects. We have great news for you: we’re about to explain exactly what Design/Build is, and how it can benefit you as a homeowner when starting your next home improvement project.

Design/Build is not a separate process; it’s a philosophy and the most logical and flexible approach to any large home renovation project. Heavily involved in the planning and design stages of a renovation, Design-Build is a fluid and innovative way to build a home or add an extension. These large-scale home improvement projects could be things such as add-a-levels, home extensions, dormer additions, garage additions, and more.

Different clients want different levels of involvement in their remodeling projects, but one thing they all want is their home to match their expectations and envisions. Design/Build is a remodeling method that allows clients to participate in the planning stages of their project. Through a hands-on approach, this method allows for the completion of a project from start to finish. Design/Build allows homeowners to guide their own projects by giving them as much involvement and control as they choose in the overall design and planning process. Here, we will discuss the main benefits of Design/Build, as well as how it's used for a variety of home addition projects.


What is Design/Build in Residential Remodeling?

Credit: Pexels

Design/Build is a process where the homeowner hires one company to design and construct the home, as opposed to hiring separate companies for each. This means there’s only one point of contact throughout the entire process, making communication as easy as possible for the homeowner.

This value allows homeowners to get the house they want and eliminates the hassle of unnecessary leg work. People have busy lives, and they don’t want to deal with the logistical challenges involved with planning every detail of a home addition. Design/Build makes things easier on them, and provides them with the house they want.

Design/Build gives homeowners a full range of choices in the design and construction of their building. It allows them to work with their builders to set the scope of the project. It also expands their control over the budget, allowing them to cut costs down to the last penny. This type of flexibility can have limitless benefits for projects of any size.


Why Choose Design/Build?

The benefits of Design/Build are threefold. It gives the homeowner more control at every phase of the home’s renovation. Doesn’t matter if the project is an add-a-level, dormer addition, or shell, this approach allows the homeowner to be more involved throughout the entire process and keeps expectations in line with the outcome.

It brings more transparency. By keeping the homeowner in the loop at every phase of the project this keeps everyone more in line with the homeowners’ wishes to help craft the look and feel that they want to achieve.

It creates a more effective delivery. Because the same company is involved with the clients needs from the very beginning of the conceptual process, this helps with future planning and allows the builder more time to prepare for the actual construction. Since this unique process emphasizes these extremely important key benefits of remodeling to the client, choosing to go with a Design/Build company is the smartest decisions a homeowner can make when deciding to start a new home addition or any large-scale home improvement project.

These three important traits of Design/Build save money and time in the process. Most people know that hiring a designer is expensive — but they don’t realize how much money they can save by not hiring an architect, general contractor, and every other person needed to build an addition on their own. Hiring a company that does it all also limits many risks associated with the confusion of uneducated homeowners hiring different trades and allows them to push forward with their project with confidence. Since the homeowner is involved in each stage of the project, they can focus on what’s actually important, which is the final outcome of how they intend their home to be.

The actual process of Design/Build allows the homeowner to be as hands on as they please by laying out the entire process from walk-throughs, choosing design layouts, and making changes. Design/Build contractors also give homeowners the chance to do some of the work themselves or to hire their own subcontractors for certain aspects of the project.

Another benefit of selecting a Design/Build contractor near you is the control of how each element of the home would be affected by adding or changing specific scopes of work. This allows homeowners to get an understanding of what’s fair for a given space and allows them to inform the designer or contractor on where they would like to see the home designed and how.

Advantages of Design/Build

Credit: Pexels

Design/Build firms are typically more agile than large general contractors. This means the Design/Build team can make changes on the fly, and they can also provide more accountability since they are responsible for both the design and construction of the project.

What’s important for Design/Build firms is creating a robust design that meets critical functional requirements. Critical functional requirements are the components of a project that are assessed during design and construction to ensure the project will be completed on time and on budget.

Typically, there will be multiple floor plan designs to choose from. This approach allows the builder to know which designs are favored and gives the homeowner some options within their budget.

For example, a Design/Build firm may meet with a homeowner with a budget of $150,000 looking to do an add-a-level addition. While this is the designated budget for the project, the designer may come up with designs priced at $125,000, $140,000 or $160,000. By allowing the homeowner to get an idea of the different price ranges and what they offer, this lets the designer know the necessary needs of the homeowner — which they can then adapt to every floor plan they design.

Conversely, going with a separate architect and general contractor can blow through a chunk of your budget before even agreeing to a design. With Design/Build, you get what you want in a home addition. It’s tailored to satisfying your wants or needs, without worrying about having an astronomically high cost when it’s all said and done.

Are Design/Build Companies the Same?

Without appearing biased, specifically speaking to the philosophy and methodology of how this type of construction functions, there are no disadvantages to hiring a Design/Build firm for a home addition or an add-a-level.

However, the disadvantages may come from the company that is chosen, and this concerns the different approaches they may have with delivery. Here’s a few things that all homeowners should want to be aware of when choosing a Design/Build firm for their next home project.

  1. Have them explain their process. With more and more construction companies starting to adopt a “design and build” approach, one way to filter out the companies that will waste your time is to ask them to give you an overview of their process. Design/Build companies that go the extra mile to make sure that you have no questions before moving forward are the ones you want to work with. No question is a dumb question — ask them anything that helps you understand the process and what the final outcome will be.
  2. Ask to see past work. This one should be a given, regardless of if Design/Build is being used or not. Since home additions and add-a-levels can be pricey, make sure that the company chosen has work that speaks for itself. Any company that hesitates to show past work, or better yet, doesn’t have any past work to show is a BIG red flag. So, make sure to know what the company is capable of. Viewing past work also could help give you design ideas for your current project! Seeing a certain staircase design or type of flooring that you’d want is a great outcome. Not only did the past work give you a piece of their home addition, but they have already done before it so you know the company can do it for your project!
  3. Be. Honest. With. Everything. Okay, maybe you don’t need to be honest with everything but, be honest with everything regarding the project. You need to tell the company your real budget and what your absolute max is. You need to tell them the primary goals for the project and why it’s necessary. When you get architectural drawings, honestly critique them. If there is anything that doesn’t sit completely right with you, even in the slightest, tell the company. You are in this equation to get a home addition that fits your liking and satisfies your needs. That’s the beauty of Design/Build. The homeowner has the control; use it so you get what you want. If you are honest from the beginning, you will be more likely to get what you want with the least amount of problems.

Is Design/Build right for my project?

If you’re still wondering if Design/Build is right for your home addition after reading everything so far, answer this question:

Do you want a home addition built to your specifications, as the most cost-efficient option, and without the headache of dealing with multiple companies to work together and deliver a solution you’re satisfied with? Do you want all those things while having far more control of the project and its outcome?

If you answered NO to this question, then design/build clearly isn’t right for you. Whether you don’t care about the outcome or if it adds value, or you don’t mind juggling different companies that have no central guidance, it appears you have other ideas in mind, and we wish you the best of luck.

But we’re willing to bet most of you answered YES to that question. Because let’s be real here, no one wants a headache of a project if stress free options are available to take.

Design/Build is that option.

And you should do it.

There’s no question why Design/Build is becoming increasingly popular within the residential remodeling industry. Homeowners get what they want, and with the guidance of a Design/Build company, they can manage as much as they want to. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

If you are a homeowner wondering if it’s time for a new home addition, we highly recommend researching out design/build contractors near you.

If you’re in Northern New Jersey (specifically Bergen county), reach out to us! We’ve been doing Design/Build before it was “cool” and know how to make the most of your budget while still getting you what you need.

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