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Originally published Friday, September 6, 2013 at 8:04 PM

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HomeWork: The design/build approach may be the way to go

Design/build is more of a team approach — the professionals who are building or remodeling a home work more closely with the designers or architects from conception to completion.

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Q: What are design/build remodeling companies?

A: Design/build is a project-delivery system used by builders and remodelers in which the homeowner contracts with a single entity for both the design and building or remodeling of a home.

Traditionally, the designer works separately from the contractor.

The design and construction of a project are split into separate entities with separate contracts and separate work.

Design/build is more of a team approach — the professionals who are building or remodeling a home work more closely with the designers or architects from conception to completion.

When a homeowner chooses to work with a design/build firm, the designer and/or architect and the contractor work as a team to plan and implement the concept and complete the final design.

One of the most appealing aspects of the design/build approach is its convenience. It is a kind of one-stop shopping, which tends to streamline the process.

With only a single bidding process for both design and building, construction can often begin sooner. This process can also make it easier to meet projected deadlines, potentially saving time and money.

Another big timesaver is the fact that, with the designer and the builder working together, construction and material needs are identified up front for the builder as the design is completed, shaving off time waiting for deliveries.

When a homeowner works with a designer or architectural firm before hiring a contractor, design visions will often exceed the budget.

Contractors are very familiar with actual construction costs, so involving them in the design process gives the homeowner a realistic understanding of the actual costs and makes it easier to stay within the proposed budget.

A design/builder is usually a remodeler or general contractor, but sometimes a project is led by a design professional such as an architect or engineer.

Typically, when the design/build company is owned by a general contractor, the designer is retained directly by the contractor.

The partnership or joint venture between a designer and a construction company can be created on a long-term basis or for one project.

Whether you choose to work separately with an architect or designer, or you choose a design/build firm, be sure to do your own homework before any work begins on your home. Interview more than one company.

Make sure any company you are considering is registered with the state, and is insured and bonded. Ask for references and check them.

Contact former and current clients and ask about how any problems were resolved.

For most of us, our home is our largest investment.

There are many qualified professionals who can turn your dreams into reality, and doing the right research beforehand will help you find the right one for your project.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to homework@mbaks.com.

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