Design build construction or solo architect

One of the biggest dilemmas our clients face is whether to partner with separate entities on their building project, or just one for construction and design.  Whether you need interior design services or actual blueprints, you should know the the differences in your options.

The first option is design build construction, which means you work exclusively with one contractor’s all-inclusive team for your design and construction needs.  The other is to hire an architect first, then engage a contractor later.  Which is better?

At HTP Builders, we’ve found the inclusive design-build method yields superior results, for these reasons:

  • Less time consuming
  • Less costly, and
  • Lower-risk approach.

Our goal is to refine the design process by bringing a well-established team of experts (including our team architect) together in one place.

We all work toward a single, unified goal while meeting your design needs and controlling spending.

drawing for a design build construction project



Design build advantages

There are several reasons why design build construction has been widely adopted as a preferred project-delivery system.  This method streamlines the entire process by moving in sync with your schedule, budget, and other goals.  Since your builder is already involved in day-to-day communications, collaboration  happens more readily.

This also allows for reduced design and construction time and you can easily integrate scope changes, minimizing project disruption and expediting construction.  Plus, your contractor faces absolute accountability.

In contrast, employing an architect requires extra stages before and during the build.  By hiring separately, you’ll be potentially required to:

  • Interview potential architects
  • Solicit and review bids from general contractors
  • Meet with both parties individually
  • Pay for a feasibility reviews to analyze the architect’s plans
  • Juggle back and forth between builder and architect proposals

Bellevue Home Additions

Budget-focused approach

Besides being more time-consuming, the architectural (design-bid-build) method is also more expensive.  This is partly caused by the presence of two contracts being paid separately.

Avoiding separate contacts, by using a design-build contractor, has proven to provide homeowners with up to 10% savings overall.  Sure, this 10% off the top sounds good, but there are other ways your final project price will be affected?

Just like a design-build firm, an architectural company will assist you in defining and transferring your ideas onto paper.  But your budget is not an architect’s main concern and a blown budget is common.

Hands-on building is simply not their forte, so they are less likely to know how much it will actually cost to complete a remodel, kitchen upgrade, or other project.

General contractors provide estimates based on project-specific information and the architect’s plans.  They do this using their daily experience in actual building and their company’s record of installation data.

Although skilled at design, this is unfortunately not a facet of an architect’s profession.  Architects typically lack experience compiling material takeoffs, forecasting tradesmen install hours, putting together all-inclusive project pricing, and other details.

It will cost you

Exclusively working with an architect can causes other factors to lead to a rise in your final out-of-pocket price.  For example, they are not working closely with those actually building the project and simply cannot see it through the eyes of the builder.  This means they cannot foresee or adapt to many of the construction and feasibility issues the builder will encounter.  When this occurs, the architect’s plans become inaccurate and incomplete.

In fact, reports indicate that over 50% of the architectural plans created per year lead to projects that are never built.  Since the total project costs are not considered from the early stages of design, contractor quotations tend to exceed what the project owner can afford.

Does the architectural approach sound expensive?  You will pay the architect for initial designs, plus revision fees until you are happy with everything.  Then, you pay for plan-change costs per the city.  This is followed up with you paying for design changes until you obtain contractor pricing which meets your budget goal.  While cumbersome, these steps are a must to keep your home remodel on track.

Cost to remodel a kitchen

Unexpected project add-ons

You cannot get accurately priced construction cost predictions without your contractor’s involvement in the design phase.  This is due to other unconsidered project costs which architects typically do not include in a client’s budget.  These include budgeting for the:

Stressed young couple

  • Legally required tests for asbestos & lead
  • Basic remediation of such hazardous materials
  • Protection of adjacent structures & surfaces
  • Dust mitigation to minimize airborne particulates
  • Deconstructing & selective demolition costs
  • Hauling & disposal of project debris
  • Delivery of construction equipment, manpower, project materials, etc.

Other budget considerations architects have trouble pricing:

  • Specialty trade contractor work such as electrical, plumbing, & HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
  • Projected costs for anticipated drywall patchwork & painting to match existing surfaces
  • Charges associated with upgrading existing work to meet code, and
  • Work required in areas which are directly adjacent to the new work for seamless transitions.

Alternatively, you can get all of this information and more by avoiding architectural companies who have not partnered with a general contractor.  By choosing design build construction you will save yourself from undue stress – less time consuming, less costly, less headache. 

Multiple parties equal numerous complexities

Communication breaks down when toggling between multiple parties. Here are some limitations to consider when employing a solo architect:

  1. Contractual Continuity.  The architect is typically off the hook once construction starts.
  2. Accountability. Each party expects the other to handle certain items which leads to tasks overlapping (you pay twice) or being overlooked (adds to cost).
  3. Communication. Collaboration usually suffers as it becomes unclear who’s in charge.
  4. Maximum Client Involvement.  Architectural firms may make numerous design decisions without client input and their designs are final.

Many talents.  One design build team.

A cohesive partnership is everything in a successful construction project.  At High Tech Pacific Builders, we provide an interconnected team of experts—including an interior designer, experienced architect, and an engineer who provide consistent results.

The main difference is that, as your contractor, we’re the major contributor to the team, holding all members accountable.

Proactively involving the general contractor from the start gives you more control of your design and budget goals.

We offer a unique approach that empowers our design team to incorporate value engineering (a method of reducing costs without sacrificing functionality or quality) into the entire planning process.

With a contractor in the mix, your design build team can easily manage construction feasibility upfront to limit potential problems from occurring during the construction phase. 


Our close-knit group will work hard to provide drawings that offer the best approach to meet your design and lifestyle while sticking to your budget.  Partner with HTP Builders and you will get more than a permit-ready plan set, feasibility review, and cost control advising.

We will also handle the following items in your behalf:

  1. Material selection assistance
  2. A comprehensive construction specifications and detailed scope description
  3. An all-inclusive pricing to build your project
  4. Permit filing services.

Peace of mind in every design

The most important thing we offer is a worry-free experience.  Our creative designs are tailored to your specific taste and project goals, and work in conjunction with our hands-on construction methods.

This way, you won’t be in the middle of multiple parties, alleviating a significant amount of risk.  Your project costs will be calculated as your design is developed, so we can guide you through the process and keep you on track.  Most importantly, your final drawings will be construction-ready, designed in part by a builder for a smooth build and a less problematic remodeling experience.

Contact HTP Builders to learn more about our design build process or to schedule a consultation for your upcoming project.

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