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Design-Build Construction: What It Is and What It Costs

Design Build Contractor

When completing a home addition, you likely want three things: for the work to be done right, to be completed on time, and to be cost-effective. A rear kitchen addition or second-story addition are projects that tend to be more time-consuming and costlier investments, and as a design-build contractor, Action Builders knows that this streamlined construction process can save you as a homeowner.

When completing an addition, homeowners have essentially two construction options, the traditional design-bid-build route or the more streamlined design-build process. So, can following the design-build route save you money? And how can you tell what the overall cost will be?

What Does Design-Build Mean, and How Does It Impact My Addition?

In simple terms, a design-build is a construction project completed with a single point of contact for homeowners. Traditionally, the design-build method was an alternative construction process for projects, but it is quickly becoming one of the most common forms of construction available.

The old-school design-bid-build method of construction forces a homeowner to converse with multiple parties during the design and construction of their projects. The design element is completed separately from the construction phase of the project, and a homeowner is unable to get a bid on the build until the design is on paper. On the other hand, the design-build process has a homeowner conversing directly with the design-build company. That single point of contact deals with any subcontractors or needed engineers, streamlining communication.

What Does a Home Addition Cost with a Design-Build Company?

While every project will have a different cost, understanding what goes into a project’s bid will help you understand the difference in pricing of design-bid-builds and design-builds.

So, what goes into a typical cost estimate for addition projects?


The quantity and quality of materials needed for your addition will greatly affect the cost. From structural elements to interior design features, every material used in your construction project will come at a price. Spend the most on making your addition structurally sound.


Design is a big differentiator between the two process types. In the design-bid-build route, the design will require an architect or designer as well as a structural engineer for bids. In the design-build process, the bid will entail only one entity, which employs the various persons required for project completion.


Those working on your project will be paid for their hours on your project. Labor time typically equates to labor cost.


Your addition will require heavy equipment. Consider the placement of your addition. Rear kitchen additions or second-story home additions will require special equipment to lay new foundations at the rear of your home or to lift and construct materials on a second level.


Other expenses will be needed for your project, such as legal expenses—like permitting—smaller equipment, and consumable materials.

How a Design-Build Company Benefits Your Budget

One of the best parts of working with a design-build company is that most of these costs will be a part of the initial estimate. Here are some ways a design-build saves money.

Earlier Cost Estimate

In the design-bid-build construction process, the bid portion of the project takes place in the middle. It comes after the design has been created. Once your designer or architect has created the preliminary designs, your construction team can bid on the project. If that project comes back over budget or with money designated to the wrong areas, you’re back to square one.

With a design-builder, your cost estimate is typically created in tandem with the design and can be tweaked as needed before moving to the construction phase. The construction team and designers can work together to provide an initial design that maximizes your budget to get the most out of your new addition.

Innovative Design Solutions

It is nearly impossible to account for every issue that may arise in a remodeling project, especially large-scale additions or whole-home remodels. Unexpected problems mean unexpected costs, which is why a good construction budget has a contingency cost.

When your designer and construction crew are on the same page, working toward the same goal, they can create innovative and sound solutions that are more cost-effective.

Designers who have access to construction knowledge will design with the needs of your project in mind and vice versa. Your construction crew will also have direct access to a design team for problem-solving.

Risk Minimization

A unified team will produce a much greater outcome than individuals working on separate portions of a project. And that’s exactly when a design-build team does. Both designer and construction crew hold the same level of accountability and work together to minimize risks, which saves money in the long run.

Faster Project Completions

Time is money, right? Construction projects that are completed faster tend to have a lower project cost. Design-build projects are completed in a much timelier fashion than the design-bid-build route, saving you money along the way.

Budget Focused

The design and construction team of a design-build are both budget-focused (working with the same budget). This sets limitations and parameters as to what they can do and causes them to work as a team to keep your project from exceeding your budget.

Maintain Control of Your Second-Story Home Addition

There are many reasons why a design-build construction is the preferred construction process for a home addition, including cost. Working with a design-build company actually gives you more control over your home addition, by providing open communication throughout the entire process.

Nothing is worse than feeling out of control when investing in a rear kitchen addition or a second-story addition. Our team serves many Pittsburgh areas, including McCandless and Ross, bringing over 30 years of experience to your project.

To learn more about how we can expand your space and keep you in the home you love, see our design-build services.