6 Questions to Ask when Hiring a Design Build Firm

Design build is growing in popularity for residential home building and remodeling in Colorado. Why? Well, the flexibility and collaboration in the approach reduces cost uncertainty and helps deliver projects on time — even in the face of challenges like labor shortages and supply chain issues.

Additionally, a design-build approach gives customers a much more seamless and transparent experience in their home build or remodel. By 2026, design-build projects are projected to make up 47% of construction spending.

As more homeowners embrace this innovative approach for their home construction project, they need to ask these six questions to ensure a design-build firm is the right partner for the job.

What does the design-build process look like from start to finish?

Before you work with a design-build firm, you need to know what the experience will be like for you. Look for a design-build contractor that has a defined process. They should be able to clearly explain when and where you will be involved in the project as well as the milestones along the way.

Does the firm have a portfolio of projects similar to yours?

You want to make sure that your style and the aesthetic you want in your home build or remodel fits with the style and capabilities of the design-build firm you hire. Experienced and quality firms should have a diverse portfolio that gives you an idea of their abilities — and even inspires you with ideas from some of the past projects they’ve completed.

Does design take place in-house or do they outsource it?

A number of design-build firms actually outsource design, which creates potential problems when it comes to the build phase. Working with a firm that conducts design in-house, you as the homeowner get a much more seamless experience and a project that is of higher quality and more efficient.

How do they guarantee that expectations and the final product align?

The best design-build firms will often conduct a feasibility study to make sure the expectation created from the design can be built in a way that is physically possible, can meet code requirements, and can be executed within budget. From allowing adequate crawl space clearance to thinking about HVAC chases, conducting a feasibility study accounts for all these factors to make sure your project stays on budget and in the timeline.

Do they provide transparency on the cost of the project?

Some design-build contractors use a “cost plus” pricing model, which gives a homeowner total visibility into the cost of labor and materials and the profit margin for the design build firm. This model is ideal for homeowners because it 1) allows for more accurate cost estimates and 2) ensures your construction project comes in on budget despite any market price fluctuations. Some firms even share anticipated costs for various kinds of construction projects.

What does communication look like throughout the project?

A successful construction project hinges on communication between the homeowner and general contractor as well as internal communication for the firm’s team. With an all-in-one design-build contractor, a homeowner works with the same team members throughout the project — from the interior designer to the project manager. This open communication takes the stress off you as a homeowner and helps ensure a smoothly executed project.

Asking these questions will help you get a strong sense of a design-build firm’s approach as well as their commitment to their customers. By understanding everything from their style to their experience and capabilities, you can make a more informed decision in selecting the right design-build contractor for your home construction project.

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