Why Engage a Design and Build Home Builder?
Updated: Sep 14
Everything you need to know about working with a design and build builder for your home
You are probably familiar with the traditional approach to designing and building a house. Generally, this starts with engaging a professional designer, like an architect, to help you refine the details of your design. Then, once plans have been finalised and approved, they are handed over to a builder who manages the construction works.
While this process has delivered literally millions of high-quality homes, it can be quite complicated and time-consuming. There is also the risk of things getting lost in translation as plans move from designer to builder. And, while choosing the right team should mean avoiding most of these issues, good help is hard – and expensive – to find.
As an alternative, you may want to consider working with a design and build builder. As more of a one-stop shop, these companies will work with you throughout the whole process. This usually means less stress, better communication, and faster progress.
Here we take a look at how design and build builders work and why you should consider working with one. We explore what you should expect from the design and build process and the benefits it could deliver. We even share our advice on choosing the best design and build company for your project.
What is a design and build builder?
As the name suggests, a design and build builder manages both the planning and construction phases of a home build. They usually have a multi-disciplinary team that sees each project through from start to finish. They also generally have a roster of experienced specialists they work with when required.
As this team works together on all of the company’s projects, they tend to be quite tight-knit. They have established relationships and ways of working and a good understanding of how the whole process works. This means they are generally more conscious of the potential issues design decisions could create during construction.
On a more practical level, the experience of using a design and build builder is usually more seamless and streamlined. You only need to choose one company to work with and will have one point of contact throughout the project. And, because you are working with a single team, there should be less risk of things getting lost in translation.
The benefits of using a design and build builder?
The biggest benefit of working with a design and build builder is how stress-free the process can be. You do not need to source and manage multiple trades or act as a conduit between the designer and builder. You also have one point of contact, so you always know who to call when you have issues or questions.
But that is not the only reason people choose to work with a design and build builder. This approach provides many practical benefits, including:
It is usually quicker: Because you are only dealing with one company, the process is more seamless and streamlined. Timelines for different phases are known, and hand-off points between trades will be scheduled and managed for you. This means there is also less risk of major delays as any issues will be managed within the design and build team.
There is less risk of issues during the construction phase: Because the designer and builder work together regularly, they know how each other works and what is possible. They should also be able to predict the potential issues design decisions may create during construction and plan around them. And, if problems do arise, the design and build teams should be able to work together to solve them quickly.
There is less risk of a budget blowout: Most design and build builders will agree to a set price as part of the initial consultation and negotiation process. This usually covers all costs and provides a framework for analysing and prioritising both design and build decisions. So, if issues or changes arise, there is usually a negotiation of how to fit them within the existing budget.
There is a greater level of accountability: When you work with one company, they are solely responsible for delivering every part of your home’s design and build. This usually means they take a greater level of care and have a stronger focus on getting things right. It also means less risk of things falling through the cracks as work transitions between different trades.
Busting the biggest design and build builder myths
While there are many benefits to choosing a design and build builder, some people are still hesitant to use one. This is mostly due to some of the misconceptions about how the process works and what it can produce.
For example, some believe that design and build builders cannot deliver the same level of design as an architect. However, many design and build companies actually have in-house architects who work on all of their designs. As such, they are just as capable of creating bespoke designs and coming up with unique statement features.
Similarly, some believe that because most design and build builders work to a fixed price, quality is often compromised. However, while prices are usually agreed upon upfront, this is only done to give certainty and to establish a project budget. Compromises only come when issues arise or changes are requested and will always be negotiated with the client first.
What should I be looking for in a design and build builder?
As you will work with them throughout the project, selecting the right design and build builder is crucial. In addition to delivering a tailored design and high-quality build, a good company will make the process smooth and stress-free. But how do you know if the companies you are considering are good?
As always, it all comes down to doing your research.
Generally speaking, you want to find a company that has significant experience in the type of build you are after. Check this by reviewing the portfolio of any builders you are considering and looking out for similar projects. Also, confirm their familiarity with any special features or materials you are planning to include in your design.
Many design and build builders will also have display homes that you can inspect. It is always worth visiting these to get a sense of the quality of their work and their attention to detail. You may also be able to get some inspiration for your own design!
Preferably, you should also look for a company that has previously worked in the area in which you are building. This will usually mean they have established relationships with the local council, which will help when applying for planning permission. It should also mean they have a better understanding of the unique challenges of building in that location.
Finally, you want to make sure that you will be able to work with the team. These are people you will be interacting with regularly for an extended period, so you need to have a rapport. This means feeling comfortable communicating with them, including having difficult conversations, which will inevitably be required at some point.
How do I get the most out of the design and build process?
While the design and build process is fairly straightforward, there are things you can do to make it even smoother. This includes:
Communicating your requirements clearly: A good design and build builder will work with you to define your requirements and develop a suitable design. However, it is worth thinking about your needs, wants, and expectations before meeting with your designer for the first time. This will speed up the consultation process and give you more time to focus on the detailed design.
Take the time to get your design right: While most design and build builders will allow you to make changes during the construction phase, they should be avoided. Altering your plans at this time usually means extra work and could have a significant impact on the budget. As such, it is better to take the time during the design phase to make sure that everything is right.
Trust their expertise and advice: A good design and build builder will have significant experience delivering tailored designs and high-quality homes. As such, they should be able to provide great advice on finalising your design and solving any issues during construction. But you need to trust that they know what they are doing and are acting in your best interests.
Enjoy the process: No matter how good your builder is, there will always be stressful points and tense times throughout the project. During these times, it is important to remember why you are going through the process and what you are creating. You should also take the time to acknowledge key milestones and major achievements, as this will help keep you motivated.
Want more information?
If you are still not sure whether a design and build builder is right for you, contact Carmel Homes. As one of Melbourne’s leading design and build companies, we can walk you through the process and answer any questions. Our experienced team also offers free design consultations and can work with you to bring your dream home to life.