Design Build VS General Contractor

Which one is best for the homeowner?

It is no secret that working with a contractor can be excruciatingly stressful and costly because they increase the price once the project starts, make a mess of your house, don't return phone calls  or lack communication skills along with taking weeks if not months longer than what they said they would.

In the United States, 79% of homeowners agree that having lower risks is the primary reason they chose to work with a Design-Build company.

What is the Design-Build Construction Model?

Homeowners have much more power and control over things in the design-build process. Some contractors don’t like it, but we know it is the best business model for the homeowner.

A regular general contractor will spend 30-60 minutes in your home and then base that short amount of time on your remodel proposal.  This is why remodeling companies are notorious for drastically increasing the price on you once the project starts.

With the Design-Build construction model, you pay the company to develop the scope of work for the project, while adhering to your budget, creating the designs and spec book, along with all of the planning upfront. 

Essentially, we put everything on paper before swinging hammers

You own the entire design, planning and scope of work package. So you can use it with any remodel company you'd like.
If you choose to use Phoenix Home Remodeling for the construction, the retainer is applied to your remodel costs.

The Design-Build system reduces risks by combining design and construction quality, cost, and scheduling into a single point of liability. Unlike the General Contractor method, you might be facing problems such as inaccurate estimates, project disputes, design changes, etc. The responsibility for those situations gets put on the homeowner, which is not ideal.  

Since the design & construction services are delivered under a single remodel company, Design-Build services reduce risks and management requirements.

Ultimately, this means a Design-Build project is typically higher quality, lower cost, and completed on schedule.

Something to consider...

When you are looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars, having to commit all of that with an agreement right off the bat is risky.

This is the riskiest industry, and you are paying a lot of money upfront for nothing tangible at first. You don’t know exactly what you are buying. With design build, you pay for the feasibility, planning, and designs. 

Then you decide if you want to work with that same company or take the entire ready-to-go package to another contractor.

You own the entire package.  

Lets say a pandemic hits… you can hit pause at end of design package and hold off on the construction.

Remodeling is already so hard as it is regardless of how organized, caring and process driven the company is.

When we are making decisions on the run and on the go, that could be avoided through feasibility assessments, planning, design renders, picking selections.

Imagine that you don’t have the feasibility assessment along with the designing and planning in the beginning and you are several weeks into construction and the company comes back and tells you - we can’t do what you wanted.

Well thats very disappointing. Or worse, they say yeah we can do it but its going to be another $8k. You can avoid those bad surprises with the design build process.

Homeowner Benefits Of The Design-Build Model

Minimize Homeowner Risk

  • Managing licenses, bids, & contracts with designers, architects, contractors, and subcontractors by yourself is a stressful job which is probably best avoided. The Design-Build method provides a single source for your entire project which significantly reduces your stress.
  • Hiring a general contractor involves multiple 3rd party vendors which unfortunately can fall on the homeowner to manage & dispute. The design–build system combines the design & construction roles into a single point of liability. The designer & contractor are held accountable for working together from design to post-construction allowing them to quickly handle any issue or discrepancy that could arise.
  • The fewer companies or people involved, shorter time frames, more planning, not having the price increase on you and a dozen other factors make this less risky for the homeowner.

Feasibility, Accurate, & Controlled Budget

  • You get a feasibility study on if your budget will get you what you want. Homeowners don’t know and they shouldn’t be expected to know remodeling costs, the process and everything else involved.
  • A design-build team works closely with you early in the process. During this time, you are presented with product options and material selections that not only fit your design style but also align with your budget.
  • Homeowners benefit significantly from obtaining early cost assessments, making decisions based on product availability and even changing the scope of the project to accommodate “must have” items before the design is complete.

Communication / Transparency

  • As a design-build firm, you work with an integrated team of design and production staff who all adhere to our renown customer service standards. All issues and project developments related to your project are openly shared and communicated with our design-build team.
  • Specific design & construction details are being developed throughout the entire process and the focus stays on owner “value”. The communication benefits of working with a design professional and a construction expert at the same time ensures that potential problems are discovered before the project starts. This creates a transparency a general contractor cannot provide.
  • This will cut down on any complications arising from miscommunication as well as maintaining candid advise to the homeowner.

Saving Money / Lower Cost

  • The homeowner saves money by eliminating redesign fees and receiving valuable cost-saving advice during the design, planning, and construction process.
  • With design-build, cost-saving methods are utilized continuously throughout the design & construction process. Due to those reasons, design-build projects can end up saving homeowners up to 10% of the overall project costs.
  • With Design-Build project delivery method, you will determine a budget very early in the process, and your Design-Build company will help you to stick to it.
  • Potential cost savings due to a more practical approach to design since the design-build company is more likely to design with an eye toward construction costs versus a general contractor.
  • Having your designer, project manager, and contractor in one place saves you money. Rather than paying multiple companies for individual jobs, a design-build firm charges for the overall project.

Saving Time / Faster Project Completion

  • With design build, the bidding process is eliminated and the design and construction phases are overlapped. As a result, projects can move along more quickly and seamlessly, which translates into lower costs and earlier remodel project completion.
  • We get your project done faster since everything is planned out. That means we are in your house for less time - weeks sometimes even months compared to some general contractors.
  • In a design-build firm, because designers and contractors work together to secure project details at the start of the project there are fewer changes that can cause project delays. It also saves time by purchasing materials that have long lead times early in the design phase. This preventative measure allows project activities to occur simultaneously while minimizing project delays.

Detailed scope of work and pricing

  • We produce a detailed written description of all work to be performed during your project, presented to you in the form of a proposal with a lump sum price. Attention to every detail during the estimating process ensures that we will deliver your project without numerous “surprises” and unwanted additional change work orders.
  • The design build method helps to remove ambiguity that may arise in material and construction specifications. Since the designer, engineer and builder are from the same firm, the focus remains on protecting the homeowner's interest.
  • This ensures the Design-Build company produces an accurate and final cost estimate. Once all of the documentation is completed, specifications and selections are made, and everything is reviewed, a final cost for the construction will be determined. This ensures there aren't the common general contractor nightmares.

Accountability and continuity

  • A design build company manages a project from beginning to end; from the initial planning stages to post-construction cleanup. Because of this, design-build contractors are able to work more efficiently, and the opportunity for things to be lost in translation is greatly reduced.
  • There are far fewer “places to hide” during the construction process because everyone is on the same page.
  • The smoother workflow and closer connection creates a more positive and supportive working environment.
  • One point of contact means clear & easy communication. When you work with a single contractor through the entire process from design through construction, you have a single source responsible for every aspect of the process including budgets, timelines, and the final result.
  • When the same firm is handling the design build of the project, there tends to be less back & forth over budgets and scheduling. The cost of every item is taken into account at the beginning of the process.

Single-Source Management / Teamwork / Shared Goals

  • Single point of responsibility, so there is no finger pointing.
  • The design-build process eliminates the need for the homeowner to act as a referee between the general contractor and the designer/architect/subcontractors. If something is wrong or missing, there is a team approach already in place ready to resolve the issue.
  • The designer, construction team, and the homeowner work together as a team to create a relationship that would be impossible with each working in isolation. No disputes between the designer and contractor over design errors or interpretations, or the “right” way to build. This helps result in very few change orders or up-charges related to unclear or incomplete designs, plans, & specs.
  • Because everyone on your Design-Build team works for the same company, everyone will be on the same page with all the design and construction needs. This makes a significant difference in the team's ability to work together seamlessly with better understanding of what the homeowner wants to achieve. Most importantly, you only need to contact one person to understand what's going on at any given moment with your house, rather than calling back and forth between 3 to 8 different companies to find out who has the "ball" right now.

Experienced Guide with specialized expertise

  • We have all heard the stories of design and construction getting out of hand and messy. However, design and construction should not be so stressful or chaotic. The design-build contractor acts as a trusted advisor to homeowners throughout the construction process, guiding the way to the best possible outcome. Design-build refines a process from beginning to end and manages the chaos with refined processes and experience.
  • Design builders have extensive experience in both design and construction. As such, they have a uniquely hands-on understanding of what it takes to turn a plan on "paper" into a well constructed remodel.
  • Homeowners can't be expected to understand all the intricacies and challenges with construction and the remodel process.  The Design Build model is setup to walk the homeowner through all steps and the backbone of the process is the planning phase. This is a big difference in Design Build VS General Contractor.

Higher Quality

  • With design-build, singular responsibility drives quality and performance in every stage of the process. During the design phase, design builders are highly motivated to generate designs that are accurate & error-free. This is a vital difference comparing Design Build VS General Contractor. This motivation continues throughout the construction process, since design builders alone are accountable for the quality of the final product.
  • A design/build construction company should fill the role of a trusted adviser for homeowners throughout the construction process with the best possible outcome in mind. Design/build construction mitigates many of the challenges involved with scheduling, purchasing, and budgetary concerns. From beginning to end the process can be refined down into specific and defined steps. Experienced design/build teams can deliver consistent high-quality results.
  • With both the design and construction team working in tandem, your design will work well not only with the existing home structure but also with the construction crew’s needs. The result is high-quality workmanship that can be adjusted as needed to ensure your home fits your design and functionality needs.

Project Management Help

  • Save you time from managing contractors, subcontractors, designers, architects, structural engineers, inspectors, etc. If you go that route you have to collect all of their paperwork like general liability insurance, license, bond, workers comp, and all the other things you need to do to pick them, watch over them and be the project manager. Design-Build takes all of that is off of the homeowner so they don't have to be chasing people all day long for several weeks if not months.
  • Being less involved can be a pro as well. Because you aren’t responsible for resolving conflicts, you have less obligations to deal with. It’s a more stress and hassle-free way to construct a custom-built home. The effective communication between you, the design-builder and the rest of the team is what makes those hiring design-build firms much happier and more satisfied with their results.
  • The design and construction team and the homeowner work together as a team to create a relationship that would be impossible with each working in isolation. No disputes between the designer and contractor over design errors or interpretations, or the “right” way to build. Should result in very few change orders or upcharges related to unclear or incomplete plans and specs.


  • You always have one point of contact for each phase so it is a one-stop-shop.
  • All of the planning, tear down, construction, clean up, project management, and other items are “under one roof”.
  • No disputes between the designer and contractor over design errors or interpretations, or the “right” way to build. This provides a smooth process that homeowners love being a part of.
  • In design-build firms, everyone is on the same page, and the design is completed with any potential construction issues in mind. The design renderings & scope of work get passed directly to the construction team to have the process streamlined with clear communication.
  • The process of picking your design selection items like plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, cabinets, countertops, etc. is much easier with a designer.  This is a helpful difference of Design Build VS General Contractor. The designer not only helps you pick out all of your items, but they help you find ways to save money on those items.

Would You Prefer Design Build VS General Contractor?

Here is a quick way to compare the Design Build Remodel Company versus a General Contractor

Design Build Company

  • Fixed all included price
  • Transparency
  • Clear and documented scope of work from many hours of collaboration
  • Excellent communication
  • Defined and structured process to ensure a great homeowner experience
  • Questions asked that improve your remodel project
  • Quality craftsmanship
  • Proven, quality products & materials
  • Best practices used for remodeling
  • In-house design expertise
  • Clean, organized worksite
  • Homeowner expectations met
  • Your home left better than when we started


General Contractor

  • Estimated low price from 1 meeting lasting 30-60 minutes
  • Can't be transparent when you don't provide the time to walk through all of these items to let homeowners know what to expect
  • Vague scope of work
  • Subpar communication
  • Most general contractors have little to no process setup
  • Very little time allotted for questions, causing issues during the remodel project
  • No discussion or planning design phase so risking mediocre or subpar materials.
  • If not Design Build, they aren't using the best practices for remodeling
  • Little to no design expertise
  • Lack of organization causing errors and stress for homeowners 
  • Your home potentially left messy
  • Homeowner expectations usually not met

Thoughts on Design-Build

Here is a question to consider...

If we don’t design it, how can we price it?

If your space isn't designed up front, how could you possibly get a correct price from the remodel?  If that part of the planning isn't done, think of all the issues that will come up as the project starts.

"How much can a 30-60 min visit at your home do to get all of your needs, ensure everything is functionally planned, and priced correctly?"

How Much Does The Design Build Package Cost?

Many design-build remodel companies have different ways they charge for the Feasibility, Planning, and Design Retainer.

- The first one is a flat rate of around $1,000 - $20,000.

- The second one is to charge 2% - 10% of the total project cost.

- The third one is to charge an hourly rate usually between $50 - $200/hr.

We charge $1,500 per full room remodeled for the Kitchen Feasibility, Planning, & Design package.

We can often offer multi-room discounts.  Small projects like a 1/2 bathroom can usually be rolled into another room. We do not charge this package for separate projects such as flooring or painting.

This per-room pricing model allows homeowners to know the exact price while not having any conflict of interest with the other options such as an hourly or percentage based retainer.

The Feasibility, Planning, and Design Retainer is credited towards your remodel costs when you move forward with Phoenix Home Remodeling for the construction phase.

If you are interested in our Feasibility, Planning, & Design Package, you can purchase it here:

If you have questions you want to discuss over the phone, or haven't had to a chance to see if we are a good fit for each other, check out the page with the button below: 

What Do I Get With The Design-Build Feasibility, Planning, & Design Retainer Package?

Design consultations with our Certified Designer

You be able to discuss your design tastes (even if you aren't sure what they are we help you discover them) and our designer will help with all aspects of the design, space planning and layout.

This eliminates any surprises that can normally happen with a remodel.

Expert advice from the design & functionality standpoints

While design is very important, so is the functionality, which is often missed with certain types of designers.

We will help ensure the functionality of the space(s) is well thought out and you love using it.

We help you solve the issues you have with your space.

Design renderings so you know what your remodel will look like

The design renderings will show any changes to the layout or structure of your space(s).

You'll be able to see the actual selection items you have chosen such as cabinets, countertops, backsplash, flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, paint and other items in color.

This ensures you get the look exactly as you want it before you start construction.

Get a budget estimation so you know what it will cost and adjust accordingly

One of the biggest complaints consumers make against contractors is having them increase the price after the project starts.  

One of the reasons for this is because the design and scope of work aren't planned out ahead of time. 

This package ensures everything is thought through, designed and prepared for when you are ready to remodel.

Scope of work with details on what needs to be remodeled and what is covered

Another reason contractors have the 2nd most complaints in the US is because items are missed and the contractor has to drastically increase the price on you.

We will provide a detailed scope of work that ensures everything is included and there is no big surprises later on.

This way you also know what construction elements are involved during your remodel.

Design selection items along with allowances for each item

From our years of experience we have noticed picking selection design items can be intimidating for many homeowners.

This eliminates that stress and makes it a fun process for homeowners!

It also ensures your designer helps you pick items that go well together and you know the total price for all design selection items so there are no bad surprises.

Homeowners can actually enjoy the remodel with this process & package.

Kitchen remodel sketch 1
Kitchen remodel sketch 2

Everything you need for design and construction

Design Renders, Scope of Work and Help Choosing Selection items

  • We meet at your home to discuss the layout you want.
  • You provide pictures and photos that inspire you.
  • We'll discuss your options from both a design & functionality standpoint.
  • Measure all affected areas for written documentation of exact size and location of all physical features.
  • Includes design help for 1 room.
  • Create design renders to your liking with multiple revisions.
  • A detailed scope of work from the design needs.
  • Creating a design spec book with your preferred style items.
  • Help with going to all our preferred vendors to pick your selection items or we can bring the samples to your home.


  • Design renders specific to your wants & needs. 
  • What is possible for your remodel and what will be required.
  • Detailed scope of work along with all items you'll need.
  • Detailed list of selection items along with allowance amounts.
  • Our designer helps you choose all of your selection items.
interior remodel in ahwatukee arizona
design build bathroom
design build vs general contractor

You own the entire design, planning and scope of work package.  So you can use it with any remodel company you'd like. 

If you choose to use Phoenix Home Remodeling for the construction, the retainer is applied to your remodel costs.

When you work with us, your remodel project is going to be so well thought out and detailed which will keep us on budget and keep us on schedule.

When a contractor does the demo and tears up your space, it going to be a major inconvenience and we don’t want this project to drag on for 4-8 weeks longer due to not having things planned, all design items chosen, and all materials on site ready to go.

If you are interested in our Feasibility, Planning, & Design Package, you can purchase it here:

If you have questions you want to discuss over the phone, or haven't had to a chance to see if we are a good fit for each other, check out the page with the button below: 

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