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Need an Architect for Your Home Remodel? Why You Might Want to Consider a Design-Build Firm Instead

couple planning home remodel with design build firm

Whether you’re looking to remodel your home, kitchen or add much needed square footage, it’s critical to hire the right professionals to accomplish your objectives. From the initial design to the building of your space, making sure it’s done right is essential to achieving the right look and functional use that will add to your home’s value for years to come.

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Typically, homeowners have turned to architects or designers for their design and structural planning and then hired a contractor separately to handle the construction. With this approach, the homeowner makes decisions about almost every detail of the home remodel design and building process without any input from the contractor. The budget is simply derived from the project’s design. Consequently, once a remodeling contract is signed, little input is expected from the homeowner and change orders are used to account for changes in the project scope.

Alternatively, a more cohesive remodeling approach is available that can save homeowners time, money and headaches. It’s called design-build remodeling. Design-build holds both design and construction under a single source of accountability. It allows the design-build firm and homeowner to develop a cohesive project plan from the very beginning. Ideas are shared freely and evaluated in relation to the homeowner’s needs, wants, timeline and budget considerations – everyone working together, from start to finish.

To decide whether choosing an architect or a design-build firm is the best way to approach your remodeling project, let’s discuss some of the differences:

The 3-Step Process: Architect Selection, Contractor Bidding and Building

Typically, the traditional home remodeling process included three overall steps (with more sub-steps along the way, depending on the complexity of the project):

  1. Homeowners work with an architect or designer on plans for the remodel. The designs are derived from the homeowners “wish list”, but may not follow a construction budget. The homeowner may keep the architect on retainer to assist throughout the construction phase or simply purchase the plans and move on to the next step. While the homeowner has control over the design process, typically decisions about cabinetry designs, final electrical plans, material selections, and space planning are left to do without a finalized budget.
  2. The homeowner then takes the plans and solicits bids from several different remodeling contractors. The challenge with this process is contractors can interpret the design plans differently, as the details get verified out in the field. If there is a problem, who owns it?  The architect or the contractor?
  3. After reviewing bids from multiple contractors, the homeowner selects one, who is then responsible for building the remodeling project according to the design. Typically, at this time, costs for interior design selections have not been discussed or determined. As such, there is a higher risk of “scope creep,” costly design revisions or delays resulting from change orders.

This three-step process is what we call design-bid-build, a process that homeowners are the most familiar with. If the contractor finds any unexpected structural issues along the way, it is common for the architect to be pulled in again to re-evaluate the design. The homeowner is responsible for serving as a project manager between phases, and also as a mediator for any design and construction issues that may occur. It can be tricky to keep everyone on the same page; there is a greater risk for finger pointing between those involved if something goes wrong or project details haven’t been clearly defined.

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The 2-Step Design-Build Process

While every home remodeling project typically contains a thousand little steps, the design-build remodeling firm seeks to simplify the process so that homeowners can gain better control of their project with fewer headaches, errors, omissions and change orders. That’s because the homeowner leverages the expertise of an architect or designer and builder together under one roof early in the design process. In fact, the homeowner has the freedom to explore multiple design options and their associated costs without recourse, followed by detailed design drawings that result in a comprehensive cost estimate of the proposed construction project. It works like this:

  1. The homeowner consults with and subsequently signs a design agreement with the desired design-build firm for their home remodel. This design process is a collaborative effort between the homeowner, architect or designer and the construction manager. The entire team works together to determine a plan that ensures the homeowner’s functional needs, design requirements and “must haves” are met. The homeowner benefits from receiving an innovative design plan that is functionally and structurally sound and aesthetically perfect, all within an approved budget.
  2. Once the homeowner and architect or designer settle on the final design, the homeowner signs a contract with the same design-build firm to proceed with construction. A dedicated project manager is assigned to the homeowner who not only ensures consistency throughout the project but acts as a mediator on the homeowner’s behalf. This ensures design or construction issues are properly addressed and any changes have been thoroughly communicated to the entire team.

Many homeowners prefer the design-build process because their cohesive vision for their remodeling project is understood from the beginning, by all parties involved in the project. They also value their project being managed from start to finish by the design-build firm—no headaches, no hassles.

3 Benefits of the Design-Build Home Remodeling for Homeowners

Clearly, the design-build process is gaining in popularity because of the benefits it brings homeowners:

  1. Saves Time: Homeowners can pick up the phone and call one number or communicate with their project manager using a web portal at any time during their project. Design-build firms work with homeowners to make their material selections and finalize all of the design details. They also save time by purchasing materials with long lead-times early in the process, which can reduce the total project duration considerably.
  2. Fewer Budget Surprises: The design-build process considers your budget early in the design phase, preventing scope creep and minimizing change orders. The expertise, relationships with vendors and the ability to streamline the remodeling process allows the design-build firm to accomplish more than you would imagine, within an agreed-upon budget.
  3. Design that Works:  The beauty of working with a design-build firm is that you have both the structural mastery and the high-end design expertise working together under the same roof to create a plan that works for you. They work collectively to solve any potential design challenges, within your budget, well before construction begins. Through 3-D imaging, you even have the benefit of seeing your beautifully designed space before it is built.

To learn more about the MainStreet Design Build process and its benefits for your bathroom, kitchen, or home remodel project, download our free e-book about the subject and get educated today. Also get to know our team and find out about their expertise. When you’re ready, just schedule an in-person consultation to discuss your home remodeling project: 248.644.6330.

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