Design and Build Defined


What is the true meaning of a “design and build” contractor? Many residential and custom builders will say they are “design and build.” Does this mean they’re full-service – everything under one roof, so to speak? Or does it mean they’ll work with your designer or architect to create your dream home?

Actually, realistically it’s a little bit of both. While all custom builders would love to offer design and build services, not everyone can justify the expense of having a designer or architect on staff full time if that’s not the builder’s mainstay business.

Design and build defined

Also, many general contractors are not experienced in designing toward a budget or the current local zoning and building codes. It takes a very seasoned group of building experts to design a project that often will meld with an existing structure and systems. Recognizing the obstacles and working intelligently with, over, through or around these obstacles is an advanced and practiced skill.

Those custom builders who do offer a “design and build” service usually have a designer or architect on their team, and the custom builder can handle your project from start to finish. ONE advantage to you is that they are, in fact, under the same roof, and the general contractor is really the single point of contact. Another positive is, in most cases, it is the most economical path for design as well as the actual build due to the fact that an experienced design and build team will set a realistic budget with you, the client, and design toward that budget. The communication between builder and designer is quicker and more frequent – all three parties work well together because the builder, designer and now, you, the client are developing a working relationship and the plans will reflect the total picture for the builder’s field and you.

“Design and build” isn’t really a matter of where each person is employed or their physical location, it’s more about how the team works together. Ideally, designers, architects and general contractors will all attend the first measure meeting with the home owners. Here, they will listen to the homeowner’s goals for the project, ask questions and make suggestions. Some of the questions they may ask:

– Why do you want this home addition? What is the driving force behind this renovation?

– What do you hope to achieve in terms of changes to your lifestyle with this addition/renovation?

– What level of cost are you comfortable with?

– What would be your ideal way to utilize this addition or renovation?

– How much longer do you plan to stay in this home?

– What aspects of this current room/home/space do you like? What aspects do you dislike?

– What are your ideas for the space?

The answers to these questions will shape the team’s response to the project, and it is a proper sequence for them all to hear the same answers at the same time. Each of them will approach the job differently, but together, they will develop a plan that is feasible for each discipline. They are working for the good of the client – i.e. you. It is a very collaborative and inclusive process. From creating inlaid bookcases in the library to the placement of an HVAC system return in the room, the best design and build teams have an open and respectful working relationship with one another. They all want you to be completely satisfied.

The architect/designer will put your ideas on paper or computer and make sure they are structurally sound. If you need a support beam or a staircase in a certain spot, the team will know that. They will also ensure that your new addition or renovation blends seamlessly into your existing home. Working with a designer who will contribute ideas that relate to the flow of the home and the final aesthetic work, the builder will put everything together and make it happen. The well-planned process will include the design and build teams assistance in your selection process, thus further assuring budget and lifestyle integration with all of the established home renovation goals set down from the very first interaction.

A true “design and build” service makes the project that much smoother for you and your family. Now that everyone is on board with the “why”, what, where and “how much” of the project with, you, the client, contributing to the entire process, you know exactly what is about to happen. You can then let a custom builder, like Thomas Custom Builders, take the lead and be ready for a renovation project or home addition that dazzles with design and craftsmanship!


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