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Portland Design Build Remodeling Blog

6 Differences Between Design-Build and Traditional Portland Remodeling Companies

You are considering a major home remodel project, and you have heard about a concept called design-build that could offer some advantages. So what are the differences between contracting with a traditional Portland remodeling company and hiring a Portland Design Build company?

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The Two Approaches

The traditional approach to getting your major project built is to hire an architect or designer to create the design and the plans for your remodel. You then put your project out for bids from builders and select a contractor based on price and your research into the builder’s work.

A design-build company, as the name implies, combines the design of your project — the architectural, engineering, and interior design work — with the actual general-contractor function. You will meet with the team to communicate your vision for your home remodel, work with the designers on the overall scope and specific details, and agree to a construction contract. The design-build team typically will have both a site manager on the job and a production manager who oversees the big picture and makes sure the work is progressing according to the plans.

Here are some differences between those two models that you should consider.

Finding the Right Company

Finding an architect or designer to visualize and design your project, and then separately selecting a builder, can take longer, cost more, and involve more work on your part. You might also have to get involved in choosing subcontractors.

Using the design-build approach can save you time and money because the process is streamlined, and pre-construction work can get started even before the design is complete. Quality control is under one roof, and the design-build company holds full responsibility for the project, minimizing finger-pointing between the two sides if the job hits a snag.


Depending on the design-build professionals you select, you might be sacrificing creativity in design because the company’s roots and experience are in construction more than in architecture. If this is important to you, be sure to select a design-build company such as COOPER Design Builders that is an architectural firm that builds, rather than a builder that also does design.

One Point of Contact

A design-build company gives you one point of contact, and the company’s designers and construction team work together throughout the project, saving you the trouble of coordinating between the two aspects of the project. Also, the design-build architect knows the builder and won’t design a project that can’t be built.

On the other hand, having a separate architect or designer gives you an advocate in your corner who can hold the builder accountable to follow your desires. Checks and balances are increased.

Decide and Choose

Whichever model you choose — design-build or traditional architect/designer and builder — you need to do your homework before selecting a company or companies to which you will hand over your dreams, your home, and your money.

Talk to people you know who have had good experiences with big remodeling projects and check online review of the companies that you are considering. Then start calling the most promising companies and reading their websites. Ask if they will take on a project like yours, provide financial references from suppliers or banks, share a list of previous clients, and allow you to visit a current job site. Confirm that they have the appropriate insurance and licenses. Call the references and check the Better Business Bureau website for complaints. Then choose three or four and schedule face-to-face meetings. At this point, you should have enough information to make a decision.

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