Seattle Times Publication in the Special At Home in the Northwest Section - February 26, 2023
Q: We’re ready to remodel our dated 1970s home to make way for a family. There are so many moving parts involved, and I’m unsure of what kind of contractors I should hire. Any advice?
A: It’s great that you’ve decided you’re ready to remodel your home to fit your current lifestyle needs. But where to begin? The thought of having to hire and coordinate an architect, contractor and designer likely feels overwhelming. Not to mention the permitting! The idea is enough to put off anyone from pursuing their dream project.
This is a situation where a design-build or design-to-build contractor can be extraordinarily helpful for your remodeling or building projects.
Traditionally, a homeowner will separately hire an architect, designer and possibly a drafting company to provide the drawings required for permits. They’ll also select materials (countertops, flooring, fixtures, etc.) and carry out construction. That’s a lot of parties for a single project.
You must then serve as the general contractor and liaison between the design firm and the construction company, essentially the go-to person to answer all design-related questions the builder will have. This can cause communication breakdowns, delays, drifting deadlines and higher costs.
That’s why it’s smart to hire a general contractor that does it all with a design-build approach. Design-to-build remodeling encompasses both the design and construction processes all under one roof. They can singlehandedly provide drawings for both permits and construction as well as a final concept rendering of what the space will look like once completed a benefit of having a designer on staff.
If you’re stuck on trying to decide a color scheme or fixture style that matches your personal taste, an in-house or contracted designer can help you through those choices without you having to reach out to a third party. If you have a favorite architect, a design-build contractor can work alongside them, collaborating on materials selection, methods and feasibility of various designs.
Communication is often the worst pain point for homeowners as they move through a remodeling or building project. Design-build companies offer a more streamlined communication path because they have:
- One point of contact for the entire project
- Guidance and recommendations for every step
- Experience and knowledge of what options and materials will or will not work in specific spaces, allowing them to provide expert advice
- Clear project goals, budget and construction schedule
- A single team focused on the end-product rather than the chaotic give-and-take of multiple parties with divergent goals
- Design-build companies cut out the middleman and focus on the details that make a living space work for you, functionally and stylistically. They know what building materials and finishes hold up to high traffic areas, dogs, spills or weather changes.
During the design phase, a design-build company will ask how a space will be used, who will be using it and, if it’s an outdoor living space, what weather elements need to be addressed. If you have dogs, for example, what flooring materials will hold up to hard dog claws? Or if you entertain a lot, do you really want to use a highly porous countertop that could easily stain from a wine spill?
These are the kinds of important practical questions that are often misplaced or forgotten when too many parties are involved. Design-build companies possess the in-house expertise to answer all these questions before building even begins.
Going through the process of remodeling a home, even if it’s just a room or two, can be stressful. Using a design-build construction company can alleviate a lot of the stress, freeing you up to build a space you’ll love, cherish and enjoy for a long time.
Dorene Sharpe writes for Northlight Custom Builders, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,600 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.