Design-build construction or solo architect

Is that a better option than just hiring one firm for design and construction?

One of the biggest dilemmas homeowners face is whether or not to partner with separate companies when undertaking home improvements.

Whether you need interior design services or a company who has the capabilities to develop actual permit-ready plan sets, you need to understand your options.


The first option is design-build construction, where you can opt to include 3D renderings.  This means you work exclusively with one contractor’s all-inclusive team for your design and construction needs.  One point of contact for a streamlined process.  The other option is to hire an architect first, then engage a contractor later.

Which makes the most sense for you?

At HTP Builders, we have 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 together in one place.

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

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Design-build advantages

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

This also allows for reduced design and construction time. You can even 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 will 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

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 contracting with two separate entities that are 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.

Bellevue Home Additions

Hands-on building is simply not their forte.  As a result, they are less likely to know how much it will actually cost to complete your 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 do not work closely with those who will actually building the project.  As a result, they 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 over 50% of the plans created per year by architects result in projects that are never built.  Since the total project costs are not considered early on, contractor quotations tend to exceed what the homeowner can afford.

Does the architectural approach sound expensive?

Cost to remodel a kitchen

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.

Once approved, you will need to find a contractor.  This is where you will have to pay for design changes until you obtain contractor pricing that meets your budget goal.  While cumbersome, these steps are typical.

We may not be architects, but we handle all the architectural design work needed to complete any residential plan set.


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 architects 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, for instance:

  1. Contractual Continuity.  The architect is typically off the hook once construction starts.
  2. Accountability. Each party expects the other to handle certain items.  This can lead 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.  Our design-build process offers an interconnected team of experts. Your team can include an experienced home designers, draftsmen, interior designers, and a structural engineer for guaranteed build-ability. .

The main difference between us an them is the contractor.  As your contractor, we are a major contributor to the design team.

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

Our unique approach incorporate value engineering  into the entire planning process. Value engineering is a method of reducing costs without sacrificing functionality or quality.

Plus, having a contractor in the mix, your design build team can easily manage construction constructability and feasibility upfront. Therefore, potential problems will be limited during the construction phase. 


Our close-knit group will work hard to provide drawings that offer the best approach to your project. An approach that will meet your design and lifestyle while sticking to your budget.  Moreover, 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

Our design packages will be tailored to your specific project goals. You will get creative designs that will work in conjunction with our productive, hands-on construction methods.

Most importantly, your final drawings will be construction-ready, designed in part by a builder for maximum results.  This prompts a smooth build and a less problematic project experience.

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