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Reno of the Month: What does ‘design-build’ mean and is it what you need for your home remodel?

Our design-build approach ensures your project is delivered on-time and on-budget. See more of this remodel here.

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

I was taking part in a non-work related meeting recently where acronyms and new terms were flying around at a dizzying pace. No matter what industry you work in, it’s often easy to forget the words you use as part of your everyday vernacular mean little to others and can cause confusion and, ultimately, frustration. 

It got me thinking about how that translates to the home remodeling world. There is no one-approach-fits-all when it comes time to update your home. It can be bewildering trying to figure out exactly what type of contractor or home remodeler you need for the project you are thinking about. So, this month, we’re here to explain one of the ways to remodel by taking a deeper dive into the world of ‘design-build’.

First things first, what does design-build mean? In its simplest form, it means a company ‘designs everything it builds and builds everything it designs’. It’s a one-stop-shop experience so you contract with one company as opposed to hiring an interior designer (and/or architect, if needed) for designs and then having to find a separate construction company (and, in many cases, a project manager who can bridge the two). 

The biggest advantage of a design-build approach is the company does all the heavy lifting and brings a team of people to the table to work on your home.

Most design-build home remodeling companies like Synergy Design & Construction have an in-house team of experts who partner with you from the design of your dream space all the way through to the end of construction — usually all professionally project managed along the way. In most cases, design-build companies have Interior Designers, Carpenters and Project Managers as full time employees. Others may even have in-house mechanical, electrical, plumbing and paint/drywall experts on their team. However, most (Synergy included) outsource speciality work to preferred and trusted trade partners as they are only needed at certain points in the overall project. 

The other advantage in having one company who is responsible for your project from start to finish is that you have a much more realistic idea of cost/budget and timeline earlier in the process because the designers/architects and construction teams work hand-in-hand. Having a fantastic project designed on paper by an architect or interior designer with all the bells and whistles is no use to you if the construction company comes back with a quote that is triple your budget. 

Lastly, working with one company means you have one point of accountability, but it also lets you get to know your team. Here’s one of our in-house carpenters at a recent home remodel in Reston. All of our carpenters are highly skilled, passionate about the work they do and develop relationships with the family they are working with. They take great pride in their work and clients have actually told us they miss having the crew around once the project is done!

We assign a Lead Carpenter to every project we work on who knows all the ins and outs and details of your project. They focus on top notch work and deadline driven projects. Carpenters and construction crews will be in your life for a while during a home remodel, so we think it’s important to know who’s in your home — find out why here

Find out more about our team here.

That all sounds great, but what are the downsides? Well, the scope for most design-build firms tends to be larger, complex, design-thoughtful remodels. To give you an example, at Synergy, we do not work on powder room or pantry remodels as a standalone service, but we do include these as part of larger projects such as remodeling all of the bathrooms in a home, or a kitchen plus pantry remodel. In the same way you don’t need an accountant to balance your checkbook, you don’t need a design-build firm for a simple bathroom update. Thinking of a smaller remodel or refresh that doesn’t need a design-build approach but don’t know where to start? Then read this.

This Pantry/Mudroom remodel in Vienna was completed as part of a larger main level remodel. See more of this remodel here.

The other factor is you may pay more (but not always) for the all-inclusive service. In our experience, however, although design-build may sound more expensive at the outset, the time saved (not to mention the stress relief) of not having to find different experts and companies to work with and knowing your chosen company understands your scope and budget at the outset is money well spent (and dollars saved in the long run).

Ready to take the next step on your home remodeling project? Get in touch! We’re always happy to help homeowners in the area figure out if we’re the right fit for their needs.

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