Are you considering hiring a design-build contractor for your home remodeling project? Working with a design-build remodeling firm can help homeowners realize a number of very powerful benefits compared to working with a typical general contractor. These benefits stem from certain key differences between how design-build and “traditional” projects flow.

To help you better understand how a design-build remodel works so that you can decide whether or not it is the right approach for your project, we compare the design-build project flow against the more traditional approach you might expect to find from a general contractor. We also walk through our own design-build process so that you have an example of what you might expect if you were to work with us or a contractor like us.

The Design-Build Project Flow vs. Traditional Project Flow

In what is often called the traditional project flow for home remodeling projects, a homeowner contracts a designer to design their space and then, once the design is complete, brings that finished design to a separately-hired contractor, who is then charged with executing the construction. In the design-build project flow, the homeowner contracts a single design-build firm or team, who first generates a design that matches the homeowner’s desires and then executes the construction.

Clearly, the design-build project workflow is often easier to manage from the homeowner’s perspective, due to a number of reasons. The chief benefit is, of course, the fact that the homeowner is only contracting and interacting with a single team.

The 11 Steps of a Design-Build Process

The exact steps that you can expect from a design build renovation will of course depend on the processes followed by the contractor that you are working with. Below, we explain the steps that go into our process so that you can get a sense of what you should look for in choosing a design-build partner.

Step 1: Initial Meeting

The initial meeting between the homeowner and the design-build team will typically be when the homeowner explains what they are looking for in a project. This is the time to discuss goals and to review ideabooks, Pinterest boards, and any other inspiration so that the design-build can walk away with an understanding of what would make for a successful engagement. This meeting should answer the question of “What will be renovated, and why?”

Step 2: Design Agreement Meeting

The next step is the design agreement meeting. During this meeting, the project will be discussed in greater detail so that a ballpark pricing and estimated timeline can be established. It is also the moment where the client will sign a design agreement, which indicates that the client agrees to the terms of the engagement. Once the design fee is paid, the design phase officially begins.

Step 3: Client is Added to Project Management Software

At Innovative Construction, we value open, clear, and efficient communication. That’s why we add all of our clients to Buildertrend upon execution of the design agreement. Buildertrend is an online forum that we use to communicate with both our clients and our internal team. It is where we share ideas, images, and plans for the project (and where we encourage our clients to share the same with us) and it is also where our clients can view and complete a list of “To-do’s” related to their project. Buildertrend is also where we schedule all deadlines and track progress towards completion.

Step 4: Meeting with Design Team

This is a 1-hour, in-home meeting between the homeowner and the design team, where information critical to the success of the project is gathered. Measurements are taken, inspiration is reviewed, and finishes and materials are discussed. The goal is for the design team to walk away with enough information to begin the design process knowing that they are aligned with the desires of the homeowner.

Step 5: Plans & Selection

In this step, the design team creates a plan for the project (with input from the homeowner) and shares those plans with vendors. Vendors use that information to determine costs for various finishes and materials, allowing the design team to understand whether or not a certain selection will fit within the budget. At this time, a series of curated selections and quotes are organized and shared with the client in order to finalize key elements of the design, including layout and materials.

Step 6: Design Presentation Meeting

The design presentation meeting is the moment when the design team shares the completed design with the homeowner. It typically takes place in the home. During the meeting, a 3D rendering of the space will be presented so that the owner can better visualize what the home will look like after the remodel is complete. If necessary, adjustments are made to the design, and it is then finalized and approved.

Step 7: Trade Meeting

After the design is finalized, the design-build contractor will have an in-person, in-home meeting with all of the trade partners that will be involved in the project: The electrician plumber, craftsman, etc. During this time, the specific details of the project will be discussed in order to better inform the project timeline and sequencing of all tasks.

Step 8: Construction Agreement

In this meeting, the homeowner will be presented with a contract that, once signed, will kick off the build phase of the project. This agreement will include a fixed price for the project, a detailed scope of work, a start date, and an estimated timeline for completion of major steps involved. Once the contract is signed and the deposit is paid, the start date is locked in.

Step 9: Pre-Construction Meeting

To ensure that the homeowner is aligned with everyone that will be involved with their project a preconstruction meeting will take place before work officially kicks off. In this meeting, the client and production staff will discuss all of the project’s logistics: Things like pet safety, dumpster location, portable toilet location, storage location, etc. This is also typically when contact information of the team is shared with the homeowner and when a lockbox (will be placed on the door so that the team can enter and begin work. Any client questions or concerns are addressed.

Step 10: Construction

Construction kicks off with the installation of a dust barrier, which will be used to keep dust and debris from the renovation out of the general living space. Demolition then begins. The job site is cleaned daily to ensure that the space is still liveable. Each week, the project manager who has been assigned to the project will walk through the project with the homeowner to explain the work that has been done, what is coming next, and whether any adjustments will need to be made to the timeline or schedule. The client approves any and all change orders before they are made.

Step 11: Completion & Warranty

When the project is complete, the project manager will conduct a final walkthrough with the homeowner. During this walkthrough, any final issues that are identified are addressed and corrected. Once the homeowner is 100 percent happy with the project, the final payment is requested. Sixty days after the final walkthrough, the project manager will return for a 60-day visit in order to address any other newly discovered concerns that may have come about by actually living in the space. These issues are addressed, and then a final 3-year warranty is provided on all completed work.

A Better Way to Remodel and Renovate

As you can see, the typical design-build home remodel varies significantly from a traditional remodeling project. By bringing all of the individuals who will be responsible for completing the project under a single agreement and a single workflow, significant efficiencies can be realized. The end result is a homeowner who truly loves their new space.