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The Value of Design-Build for Your Fairfax County Remodel

If you are getting ready to remodel your Fairfax County home, there are so many things to consider. Choosing the right contractor is critical, as that decision can save you time, money, and give you confidence in knowing the job will be done right.

In your travels, you may have heard the term “Design-Build” with regard to contracting firms. Design-build is an approach to building that brings all stakeholders together from the start to collaborate on the result.

With all the expertise you need under one roof—contractor, designer, and architect—the process is streamlined and simplified. Conflict and delays are minimized, and your budget is maximized, delivering value from end-to-end. Essentially, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your remodeling needs.

The Advantages of a Design-Build Approach

There are two basic approaches you can take when you are planning a remodel.

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The traditional approach: pros and cons

The traditional approach is known as “design-bid-build.” This method has the contractor and designers working separately on their tasks and hiring their own sub-contractors. They collect bids for various parts of the work and attempt to obtain the best possible quotes for the job.

If everything goes as planned and there are no issues, this approach can be fine. However, if there are unintended delays or changes of plan for any reason, one side tends to cast blame on the other. Conflict ensues, as do delays, which may affect your completion timelines as well as your budget.

One of the most significant issues with the traditional approach is that the contractor is not part of the design process from the start. Some things might not be considered and will have to be dealt with later, often once the job is already underway.

Another inherent problem is that the lowest bidder might not be the best person for the job. Saving money up-front is one thing, but if it comes at the cost of quality, it may end up costing you more in the long run.

If you decide to be your own contractor to reduce costs, keep in mind that you must carry all the necessary insurance as you won’t have a firm to rely on if somebody gets hurt on the job site or if anything goes wrong.

The design-build approach

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Alternately, there is the design-build approach, in which all stakeholders are brought into the planning process from the start. The design-build firm handles every aspect of the project, from planning and permitting to completion, overseeing all work, and managing every specialist that’s necessary to get the job done. These could include plumbers, electricians, painters, cabinet makers, interior designers, tile setters, and the list goes on. Since these folks are brought into the process at the ideation stage, any foreseeable problems are sorted out before the work commences.

Some of the advantages for you, as the homeowner, are that your commitment is minimized, as is your risk. The design-build firm takes care of all the permitting, insurance, and inspections, and you can be as involved as you want to be.

Design-build pros and cons

There aren’t too many negatives about design-build, but in the effort to provide full transparency, here are a couple.

First, you may end up paying a little more than you would if the jobs were bid on. However, this cost is justified by the quality and accountability you gain. Most of the sub-contractors a design-build firm hires have worked with them before, often on multiple occasions. They know their work is excellent, and there is a good team rapport, reducing the risk of delays and budget overruns.

Second, you might have less say in who you work with on certain aspects of the project. If you are the kind of homeowner who wants to be more involved in the process, design-build might not be for you.

On the plus side, you will enjoy predictable timelines, communication, and budget. Conflict is minimized because the builder, the designer, and the architect work together from the start. As a result, any potential issues are known well in advance. Of course, there are sometimes surprises to deal with, but a well-oiled design-build team is skilled at managing problems and will generally keep the project on track as expected.

When it’s all said and done, the design-build approach can save you quite a lot of money, too. Part of the initial process is looking at your wish list and pricing it out. At this stage, your team will work with you to value engineer your choices to ensure you get what you want without breaking the budget.

Are you preparing for a remodel of your Fairfax County home? Reach out today to find out how we can help.

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