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The Advantages Of Design Build For Remodeling Clients

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 24,2014 @ 06:00 AM

The Advantages Of Design/Build For Remodeling Clients

couple looking at plans wr


Selling Design/Build isn’t easy. Many consumers haven’t heard about it and most of those who have really don’t know that much about it. If you want to sell Design/Build, or for that matter sell any product or service, you must let the buyer  know what benefits it will have for him or her.

Rather than put on a dog and pony show for your clients, take time to uncover their real concerns, underlying motivations and project requirements. Then share with your clients those advantages of the Design/Build process that address what you have uncovered, provided you are confident in taking on those responsibilities. As more contractors and consumers come to understand and realize the benefits of the Design/Build process, selling and buying the concept will become easier for everyone.

To be successful with Design/Build consider the client’s advantages and the Design/Builder’s responsibilities described within this article as interdependent.


Single Source Responsibility

Perhaps the most appealing and easy to recognize advantages that Design/Build offers are the convenience and comfort of one-stop shopping. The client looks to a single entity to take full responsibility for design, construction and satisfactory completion; delivering the project on time and on budget. As a natural consequence there is less finger pointing because as ideas are generated, all team members make decisions with a cooperative approach. This means greater efficiency, cooperation instead of conflict, and a better project for the time and money invested. When this team approach works well, it fosters an enjoyable and mutually beneficial way of doing business for the client and the Design/Build team of professionals. As the design phase of the project moves forward, all parties get to know each other while working out and establishing the terms of the relationship. This establishes trust as well as a mutual respect for the realities of living through a project, long before the dust takes over, rather than trying to do so while the dust is created. These advantages are often removed or compromised if those involved, including the client, work separately of each other during the design stage.


Cost Control

Advantages of design build for consumersTrust is the key consideration here, and can become the client’s most valued benefit.  Provided that a realist budget is established and agreed upon prior to entering into a Design/Build agreement, the Design/Builder takes on the responsibility of protecting the budget as design happens. Do not sell this as an advantage unless you are confident that you and the client agree on the scope of work. Savings and or budget control are then achieved through better planning. The Owner can exercise his desired degree of control over design, with the added advantage of knowing the cost implications of each decision as it happens. In the client’s eyes, the trust will be broken if he or she sees the Design/Builder as the cause for going over budget. It’s their money, not yours. To avoid this perceived breach of trust, before you offer or entertain alternate design ideas that will increase costs, ask your client for permission to spend more than the agreed budget.

Promising your clients cost control must be backed up with design and construction expertise, as well as the company systems required, to know what should (or will not) be included and how much it will cost. By having this ability, professional fees such as engineering or surveying are kept to a minimum as they can be determined before beginning design of the project. The client benefits by having a guaranteed maximum price that is set as soon as the scope of the project is determined.

download shawn's free sample design build retainer agreement

Quality Control

Quality of the design and construction of the project can happen by default if the Design/Builder’s team is working “together” to meet the client's performance requirements. The architect, engineer, and contractor are able to focus on the project, with an emphasis on quality, rather than protecting their own individual interests. The lines of communication are simplified and the chances for misunderstandings are reduced. The construction expertise of the contractor and the design expertise of the design professional are melded together to produce a greater value for the owner than that which might be realized if both were working independently, perhaps in a vacuum. Additionally, quality is maintained by the discovery of most problems before starting and the implementation of real solutions.


Quicker Delivery Time

Design Build speeds up construction


The client saves time and trouble by dealing with a single source for all matters rather than separately with a contractor, an architect, an engineer, and subcontractors. Bidding periods and redesign time are eliminated. Overall time to design and build the project is substantially reduced because design and construction activities overlap. The contractor can proceed with early procurement of critical materials and scheduling of labor and subcontractors for greater effectiveness. This means the project can be on the contractor’s production schedule sooner.

If it is necessary to meet client’s deadlines, Design/Build lends itself readily to "Fast Tracking", where construction begins while detail drawings are still in process. The project can be completed in less time because work can begin before all the elements of the design are complete. For example the foundation can be completed to beat the frost, while the selection of windows and doors and how they will be detailed have yet to be completed. This fast tracking can reduce the owner’s interim financing costs and will permit the owner to occupy the project at an earlier date.


Topics: Advantages of Design/Build, Defining Design/Build, Sales Considerations, Design/Build Process, Differentiating your Business

What Separates Successful Design/Builders From Other Remodelers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, May 20,2012 @ 05:00 AM

Characteristics That Separate Successful Design/Builders From Other Business Models Include:

  • Business plan for remodelers and Design BuildersAn experienced Management Team that has created and follows a strategic and sustainable business plan, implements industry best practices and continuously identifies and mentors strong leadership within the team in each department.
  • A strong Financial System that that predicts, tracks and analyzes the cost of doing business and producing projects, and includes an estimating system that facilitates timely and accurate "What-if" project pricing abilities during the entire design process.
  • Sales system for Design Builders and sales training for remodelersA Marketing System and Strategy that identifies and attracts targeted prospects qualified to do business with the Design/Builder and helps them discover the unique values and advantages of the Design/Build project delivery method.
  • An established and tested Sales System used and or supported by all employees which prequalifies that a prospect's purpose, budget and decision making process is a match with the Design/Builder's Business model and provides a consistent approach and results for those prospects who become clients.

download shawn's free sample design build retainer agreement

  • Technology for Remodelers and Design BuildersA Design System that properly identifies and documents the information needed by the client as well as the Design/Builder's project team and serves as a communication tool to make sure the design and final project serve the client's purposes within the agreed budget and timeline
  • A Communication System and Process that uses technology to create, capture, manage, and distribute timely and accurate business and project information between team members, trade partners, design professionals and the client in a way that manages and meets established expectations.
  • Design Build Training for Design Build SystemsA Production System that produces a quality project and experience for all of the parties involved within the established budget and puts management of the project at the jobsite and in the hands of a qualified Lead Carpenter and or Project Manager.
  • A Personnel System that identifies, attracts, advances, recognizes and rewards those employees who best support a true Design/Build Business model and project delivery system.


If you are looking for help or training to create or switch over to a Design/Build Business Model contact Shawn today.  Will you be ready when the economy improves and there is money to be made?


"The topics you touched on yesterday really hit home and the light bulb has gone off!
We will take this information and start to apply to our business immediately."

David Haney, Dave Haney - Custom Woodworking


Topics: Starting a Business, Success Strategies, Advantages of Design/Build, Defining Design/Build, Design/Build Process, Marketing Considerations, Business Planning, Business Considerations

Thoughts On Design/Build From a Remodel Coach for Homeowners

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Mar 16,2012 @ 05:00 AM

Thoughts On Design/Build From a Remodel Coach for Homeowners

Reva Kussmaul, remodel coach

 Guest Blogger: Reva Kussmaul, owner of Remodel411.  Reva began her practice as a remodeling coach in 1998.  Reva believes that remodeling should be a 50/50 relationship and if it wasn’t cultivated as such - nightmares can occur.  According to Reva, those nightmares are typically caused by a gap in communication and it could come from either side.  For Reva it became quite obvious that someone who knew about and cared about both sides was a missing piece to the puzzle of remodeling nightmares.   So, she decided that both homeowners and contractors could use a coach when it came to their relationship - the remodeling relationship that is.  Check out her book: Remodel 411: Secrets to a Successful Remodeling Relationship


Thoughts On Design/Build From a Remodel Coach for Homeowners

Design build team


 As a remodel coach, I recommend homeowners work with a design/build firm when they’re undertaking larger projects because I find it to be quite beneficial and all-inclusive in that you have a designer who knows how to build and create plans from that knowing and you’re working with a contractor who has their hands on the design process and is in communication around that process at all times.

The beauty of a design/build firm is - it’s beneficial to all parties. It’s much easier for the contractor to be involved with a team so they’re not shouldering all of the work themselves, thereby opening up time for discussions with the client about possible challenges or changes.  It’s beneficial for the client because I’ve found they feel like the contractor has more time to actually listen to their needs.  That’s the purpose of a great team - creating win/win scenarios.

Success with Design/BuildI find it is quite challenging when working with a designer/architect who isn’t part of the contractor’s team and, really, isn’t necessarily on the homeowner’s team either. It’s not that they’re against either of those entities but if they’re working individually they’re about creating a plan for a job and they are simply not always up on the cost impact of possible changes/designs they’re suggesting. OR, they give a very low-ball cost and then the homeowner is blown away when the contractor costs it out accordingly.  I suggest homeowners work with a firm that is going to have all of their team members on the same page, at the same time, in the same place.  

The other suggestion is there be a separate dedicated project manager on a large project as well.  This works well because when someone’s job is project managing that is what he or she is doing all day.  It makes such a difference to have that liaison between the contractor, designer and homeowner.

Advantages of Design/BuildI’ve worked with designers who charge $3,000 for a bathroom design including tile lay-out and then want me to make the decisions about the actual lay-out, correct measurements, etc.  They were charging money for something they really weren’t that knowledgeable about and didn’t feel confident in.  When it’s a design/build firm that’s all inclusive, when one member of the team completes the initial design, the person actually drawing plans steps in and it progresses from there in an orderly fashion.

I don’t feel it’s as necessary to work with a design/build firm when doing smaller projects, however, if a home owner has used a larger firm for a long-term project, had an amazing experience and already trusts them with their home, I always recommend loyalty.

Topics: Advantages of Design/Build, Design/Build Process, Guest Blogs

A Resurgence for Design/Build?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 28,2012 @ 05:00 AM

A Resurgence for Design/Build? – Is The Economy And Our Government Helping It Happen?

One of the many benefits of the Design/Build approach to construction can be reduced project costs.  Although it is not always easy to help residential remodeling prospects see or accept this benefit should they be new to the Design/Build approach and how it works, many customers who have already experienced true Design/Build can attest to actual cost savings.  Now it would appear that local governments have also realized costs saving by experiencing design/build for government funded projects like road construction, bridge replacement and even construction or renovation of schools. Will the use and success of using Design/Build for public projects help get the word out about the benefits of Design/Build to residential remodeling prospects too?

Design build constructionHere is an example.  In a March 22, 2012 article posted to author David Bodenheimer reported that at a business roundtable meeting between N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, the business community and government officials, the speaker was asked by Davidson County Purchasing Director Dwayne Childress to consider adding exceptions to the state's design-build project list that would allow county officials to construct under that model.

To back up his request, Childress cited the example of an Interstate 85 project over the Yadkin River that was awarded for $136 million, although initial estimates assuming the traditional design-bid model had the project ballooning toward $330 million.  Secondary to the cost saving but equally important, Childress said, is the ability to deal with one contractor throughout the entire project. 

"That's a big benefit," Childress said. "Sometimes you get the finger pointed (between the architect and builder). But when you put those two guys on the same side, it's going to clear up a whole lot of issues that we have."

Childress said without a doubt design-build projects would save the county money, in some cases upward of 20 percent.  "You would eliminate a lot of up-front architectural fees and limit change orders," Childress said.

Econony help Design BuildI think this recession has forced both the government and consumers to rethink how they approach construction and renovation projects. With money being tight and strict budget limits the norm; I believe true Design/Build is ready for resurgence. If this is true, those Design/Builders who can help educate prospects on the process and benefits of Design/Build during this resurgence can gain market share before their competition even realizes the opportunity is in front of them.


"Things may come to those who wait, but only those things that are left behind by those who hustle."

- Abraham Lincoln


What say you?

Topics: Advantages of Design/Build, Marketing