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What is Design-Build?

What is the design-build model of construction, and what does it mean for your home project? Design-build means that you work with one company for the duration of your home project: the design phase and the building phase of your project are integrated from the very beginning. This leads to streamlined communications, lower costs, and a shorter timeline than a project where you’re working with two or more companies.

This article talks about what makes the design-build model unique and how to tell if it’s right for your project.

Two Models of Construction

There are two common models of construction.  In one (often called design-bid-build), you hire a separate designer and builder for your project and go through these three steps:

  1. Choose an architect or designer to help you draw up your plans
  2. With plans in hand: ask for bids from general contractors that can help you build or remodel your home
  3. Work with a builder for the building phase of your project.

With the design-build model, you hire one company.* The designer and the builder are collaborating together under one roof, and you’ve got one point of contact instead of two or more. This model has some advantages:

  • The designer is more intimately involved in the building aspects and can design and plan according to the realities of building.
  • The builder can start advising on products and materials in the design phase, leading to fewer changes, lower costs, and shorter project timelines.
  • The homeowner’s vision and desires are communicated to one team, reducing misinterpretations and mistakes.

Which Model Is Right For My Project?

Well, it depends. With the first model, you choose separate teams according to your liking⏤you might really like a particular architect or designer and want to work with them, and then you find a building team that you’re excited to work with to carry out your vision. You’ll want to ensure that both teams are trustworthy and adept at communicating with each other to make sure that your vision for your home is carried out to its fullest.

With the design-build model, you’re just choosing one team to work with for the whole of your project. The most important thing is to find a team you really trust and enjoy working with⏤if you can do that, you’ll see the benefits in the form of streamlined communications, simple processes, and clear results.

The Design-Build Institute of America goes into more detail in this primer on choosing a delivery method that’s right for you.

Working with Mantis

At Mantis Design-Build, we do everything under one roof:

  • Design your space 
  • Draw up plans
  • Implement the building phase
  • Supply the materials and labor
  • Guide the project to success

We’ve worked on both construction models, and we’re partial to design-build because it’s an integrated, streamlined process that we believe best serves the homeowner’s interests and vision. 

“Hey Mantis, we already have an architect that we love and want to work with. Can you do just the building part? Or what if I have a builder I already know I want to work with⏤can you just help me with the designing part?”

Great questions! Yes⏤we go into more detail in Frequently Asked Questions


We hope this helps clarify things for you. Please let us know if you have any questions! We welcome your feedback. 

* For history nerds like us, you can learn more about the history (and effectiveness) of design-build in this report from the Department of Transportation.

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