The Design-Build Process Step by Step

The design-build approach is a collaborative one. Instead of having a separate designer and a separate builder, one firm oversees the entire project from start to finish, contributing both to the initial vision of the construction project to the final function and visual appeal of the completed project.

The following from Thomas Custom Builders outlines the steps involved in the typical design-build process:


  1. Introduce company, key team members & qualifications for the project
  2. Client background information. Discuss preferred design style and priorities.
  3. Budget Discussion vs. General Costs vs. Value
  4. Discussion of Design-Build Process & timeline
  5. Review Design Agreement and Design Fee

Measure Meeting

  1. Sign Design Agreement
  2. Conduct field measurements
  3. Discuss your selections and provide Supplier List
  4. Collect further design and wants
  5. Discuss budget further
  6. Set timing expectation for Preliminary Drawings
  7. Get pictures of existing conditions and areas involved in scope

Preliminary Plan

  1. Draw existing areas involved in scope (interior and exterior as warranted)
  2. Provide different possibilities for layouts (factoring in value engineering and cost considerations targeting the budget)
  3. Create and send proposed floor plans and 3-D renderings for further revisions to design
  4. Develop preliminary Plan Set to include all basic client needs within targeted budget

Final Design

  1. Meeting at our offices to present and explore the 3-D plans on a large screen TV
  2. Finalize layout
  3. Finalize millwork layout, if applicable
  4. Descriptively note all work to be performed on plans

Preliminary Pricing

  1. Provide preliminary project cost and allowances to shop within
  2. Give breakout of preliminary pricing on alternates/options
  3. Make adjustments if scope isn’t feasible (revise preliminary price and design as needed)
  4. Once preliminary design and costs are agreed upon, develop trade/field walk-through plan set

Site Walk-Through

  1. Access on-site budget and design assumption questions from preliminary design drawings; Confirm no other changes to scope or plans
  2. Go over final finishes and selections made to date

Final Selections & Pricing

  1. Determine final product allowances or selections
  2. Review drawings and costs with client
  3. Review and finalize scope of work based on final discussions and changes

Contract Signed / Final Plans for Permit Submission

  1. Contract signed by client and contractor
  2. Application for Building Permit is filed
  3. Clients to work with Design Coordinator to finalize any outstanding selections

Pre-Construction Meeting

  1. Review scope of work in detail, on site, with the Project Manager, Lead Foreman, and clients
  2. Complete pre-construction walk-through
  3. Discuss initial schedule, working hours, storage of materials, hauling of debris, staging of selections, and other items on the checklist

Start Construction 

  1. Install company sign in front of home
  2. Inform nearby neighbors about the construction, if required
  3. Assigned Lead Foreman to walk the proposed site with specifications in hand, with each trade to perform work on the job

Design-build streamlines the process resulting in one point of contact, reduced costs, and faster project delivery because the bid process is cut out, disputes are limited, and solutions to building problems are solved prior to construction. In summary, design-build is a negotiated turn-key process from start to finish.

Tags: , ,