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Design-Build vs. Traditional Remodeling for Your Chicago-Area Home

When it comes to remodeling your Chicago-area home, there are two popular routes to take: design-build and traditional remodeling. Understanding the differences between these options will narrow down your search for the right contractor for your project, giving you the highest satisfaction with the results.


Traditional Remodeling

Traditional remodeling means that you as the homeowner are the primary project coordinator. What does that look like? It is your job to interview and hire both an architect and a builder, as well as to facilitate communication between the two parties. If you’re already connected with an architect and a builder whose work you admire, and if they have a successful track record of collaborating together, this may be a good option for you.

Another essential consideration before pursuing traditional remodeling is time. Since you’ll be the coordinator, you’ll need to ensure that your schedule has capacity for you to take on the part-to-full-time job of managing the project. For some, this level of commitment and energy is exciting, but it’s important to consider realistically beforehand.


Design-build means that the architect and contractor operate under the same roof, guiding you through the whole process from concept to completion. To use an analogy, working with a design build firm is like hiring a personal fashion consultant who helps you identify and define your best look and then stays by your side to sew your new, tailor-made wardrobe. If you don’t already have an architect and a builder in mind with whom you’d like to collaborate, partnering with a design-build company can prove to be an easier option for several reasons. Today, we’ll dive into a few of these reasons. 

Design-Build: What You See is What You Get

Design Build Addition

One of the most apparent benefits of hiring a design-build company is that there’s generally a higher level of quality assurance from the outset. You can view your prospective contractor’s portfolio and know that the quality and creativity you see in other projects is the same as what you can expect in your own remodel. Since each project is the original and direct work of the design-build company, you won’t have to worry about the ramifications of untested partnerships between multiple parties or unknown subcontractors entering the project.

In addition, because the entire remodel is managed by a single contractor, that contractor also bears greater responsibility for the project and is more invested in a high-quality outcome. At Patrick A. Finn, for example, Patrick chose to name the company after himself to give clients the confidence that we hold ourselves personally accountable for every project we undertake. There is no possibility of various contractors playing the blame game when one company manages everything.  

Design-Build: Easy Communication

The design-build model is also an easy winner when it comes to communication. Because everything from design to construction to completion happens under one roof, communication between each area expert involved is both timely and accurate. As the homeowner, this means pressure is taken off of you to align separate contractors’ schedules in order to get everyone in the same room and on the same page. Instead, it’s all in the family. We are all just an office or two away. 

Design-Build: Faster Timeline

design build kitchen remodel

Build time is a concern of prospective clients. Everyone wants to know how to ensure that their project stays on schedule every step of the way. Fast and accurate communication between experts like designers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians also often translates to a faster overall project timeline. Hiring separate contractors means that communication involves significant back-and-forth rather than a streamlined plan.

Since every house is unique, there’s a potential that you may need to adjust and adapt a few ideas as you proceed with your remodel. An architect might have a vision for the house that needs to be modified once construction is underway.

When your architect and your builder aren’t in the same room, collaborating closely from beginning to end, this can cause timeline delays as initial ideas need to be modified. With a design-build company, on the other hand, challenges are often quickly resolved along the way and more often identified and addressed from the the very beginning. 

Design-Build: Easier Budget Planning

Another advantage of the design-build model is that you’ll receive a single project quote that encompasses every aspect of the remodel. Traditional remodeling entails paying separate entities for separate services along the way, so it’s harder to know up-front what the overall cost of your project will be. Yes, you can ask your architect for a design quote and, once designs are drafted, share with remodelers to solicit a construction quote. But again, this process happens in stages instead of being packaged together up front, and there’s always the possibility that you may need to modify plans and therefore incur unexpected costs along the way.

The design-build approach starts with an understanding of needs, wants and an investment. This allows the design to be created with a vision and budget in mind. 

It’s important to note that every remodel comes with its fair share of the unknown, so whether you hire a traditional remodeler or a design-build company, you’ll want to pad your budget a little (your remodeler can advise you on how much for each remodel). It’s easier, however, to prepare your pocketbook when you have only one quote to prepare for.

Design-Build: Unique Results that Match Your Lifestyle

Perhaps the number one reason home owners elect to work with design-build companies is the completely unique charm of the results. Design-build companies are known for the high level of craftsmanship, care, and creativity they bring to projects. At Patrick A. Finn, we thrive on a collaborative model where you come with your ideas and we come with our expertise, together creating a completely unique space that reflects your personality. If you like what you see in our project portfolio, we invite you to contact us to discuss your project - we’ll treat it as if it’s our own!



Written By Katie Finn