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What is Design-Build: Everything You Need to Know and How to Get Started

Updated November 25, 2021
Chad Hanson
Chad Hanson

As the Managing General Partner at Sustainable 9 Design + Build, Chad is responsible for establishing the vision and strategy for our clients. What helps separate Chad from other visionaries in the home building sector is his ability to create a unique customer service experience that is both highly personalized and encourages collaboration. Chad’s experience and expertise in the field makes him a pleasure to work with and an all-around expert in Minnesota Modern.

Design-build is one of the best practices when it comes to getting everything you want out of a home. With design-build, creating the home of your dreams is easily within reach.

In fact, the whole design-build process can be completed in just one to two years. When you work with a builder who has their own in-house designer, you get the very most out of the process, and it can be completed even faster.

At Sustainable 9, we’re proud to offer premium design-build services. Here’s what you need to know before working with us or any other design-build contractor.

The First Steps to Your Design-Build Dream Home

Some of the first steps might seem simple, but they can make all the difference when it comes to getting into your forever home. Here’s what you should pay attention to as you get started.

The Right Piece of Land

Before you are ever able to start construction on a design-build project, finding the right piece of land is key. Sorting through what you want and what’s available might seem like the biggest part of this process, but it really isn’t. Thankfully, lots of builders will already own lots or the right to build on them within several cities.

You might find that it’s easier to choose your builder before you choose your lot. In many instances, the builder you choose will define the piece of land you’re able to build on.

piece of land

Finding the Right Team

Choosing your builder is one of the most important decisions you will make when creating a design-build project; therefore, finding someone with their own in-house designer can make all of the difference. Getting exactly what you want out of a design-build project hinges on having the right team in place.

Each member of your design-build team can make or break what gets built, so it’s important to get started with the very best available. Not only will working with an experienced builder who has their own designer save time and money, but it will also help you create what you want the first time around.

Brainstorming the Design of Your Dream Home

This is the fun part! A good designer will listen to what you want and what’s important to you and make sure that what gets created is functional for all family members.

A great way to get started with this process is by making a list of all your must-haves. What are your non-negotiables? Are you looking for an open floor plan, or do you want to break up the space with walls and doorways that lead into different rooms? Be sure to also think through the chance of your family growing or what it would look like to have different people living in your home someday.

Creating the Design

Now that we’ve established what’s important to you, your designer will work with you to put together what the home of your dreams looks like. The length of time it takes for this part is going to vary based on what exactly needs to be done and how much input from both sides there is.

At S9, we normally allow for 1-2 months before the initial design is finished.

design-build

Making Adjustments to the Design

After you’ve viewed the initial design, you’ll have the ability to change anything that you don’t like. What you want in your final design is what matters most, so feel free to make any changes that will allow for what’s important. However, it’s important to know that the more changes you make, the longer the revisions will take to be made.

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Sometimes there is an opportunity for revisions to take place more than once, but be sure to keep open communication with your contractor.

Engineering and Foundations

After the design is finalized or close to it, engineers look at the plans and make sure that they are structurally sound and that what’s being built is going to stand the test of time. Some design-build companies will have in-house engineers who can dramatically increase the pace of the project.

When the engineers sign off on the project, the next step is excavating and pouring the foundation. Depending on the size of your home, your foundation could take a few weeks to a month between excavating, pouring, and curing.

Making Material Selections

This is what differentiates design-build from other construction methods. When you choose to work with a contractor that has their own designer, they will work with you to make sure that what gets chosen perfectly matches what your home is going to look like and what it needs in terms of functionality.

Throughout this portion of the project, you’ll be picking out everything from the flooring to the tile that will be used in the bathrooms. This is an opportunity to make the home completely yours.

building materials for design build

Building the Home

When the foundation is ready, the builder will be able to start work on your home. Slowly but surely, you’ll be able to start seeing your home come together and take shape. It’s an amazing process to see your home come to life.

The building will be one of the most time-consuming portions of the project. During this phase, the home will be framed and the roof installed. Siding will also be installed on the outside.

Exterior Design Process

Many builders won’t offer much for landscaping and exterior design outside of the siding you choose for your home. When you’re building a home on a new lot, there will likely be a lot of work to do regarding the design of your home’s exterior and landscaping throughout the yard.

As your project draws closer to completion, it’s always a good idea to ask your builder if they have any recommendations for different landscape companies that might be able to help you with the work.

Finishing Touches and Decorating

When the sheetrock is up, cabinets are installed, and appliances are ready to be moved in, you can start thinking about finishing touches. This can be anything from paint colors and decorating to what type of flooring you want throughout your home.

Try to match the styles you like to your home’s new interior. Remember that interior design is just as important as all the rest of the project. After all, you’ll be living in this home, and if it’s going to be perfect, you’ll have to work some interior design magic.

interior decorating

Enjoying Your Home

Once all interior design is finished, it’s finally time to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for over the past few months. The process of going through design-build for a new home can last for years, especially if you’re stuck waiting for a builder to become available.

After such a long wait, moving into your home and enjoying every last bit of it should be your number one priority.

Tips for Navigating the Design-Build Process

When it comes to navigating all of the different phases of this process, it’s critical that you keep an open mind and hold onto some different phases of the project loosely. We’ve been through this process 1,000s of times, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that minimizing stress will make the project smoother for everyone involved.

Use Clear Communication

Clear communication will really make anything easier. Whether you’re talking to your builder, architect, or interior designer, communication is the key. If what your builders say isn’t lining up with what you’re asking for, that’s where the communication breakdown is.

Be honest when you need to and try to over-communicate if you feel like your point isn’t getting across in the ways that it should. Finding ways to communicate in person or over the phone will also be beneficial.

Put Your Trust In the Builder

You have to trust that your builder will have your best in mind. If you’re working with a reputable longstanding company, they’ve been in the business for years, have worked with hundreds of people, and know what they’re doing. The builder’s job is to provide you with the very best home they can.

trust builder

Ask Questions When You Have Them

If you have questions about how the process should go, could go, or is going, then ask those questions. It’s never going to hurt to ask questions. As a builder ourselves, we rest easy when we know our customers are 100% satisfied throughout the process.

Interested in starting a design-build project of your own? Want to start looking into what a dream home and project would look like for you and your family? We’d love to be a part of it. At Sustainable 9, we build custom homes through a design-build process that focuses on sustainable living.

Check out some of our recent projects and reach out if you have any questions about our work.

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Chad Hanson
Chad Hanson

As the Managing General Partner at Sustainable 9 Design + Build, Chad is responsible for establishing the vision and strategy for our clients. What helps separate Chad from other visionaries in the home building sector is his ability to create a unique customer service experience that is both highly personalized and encourages collaboration. Chad’s experience and expertise in the field makes him a pleasure to work with and an all-around expert in Minnesota Modern.

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GREEN STATS

62%

More energy efficient than a standard new construction home* *based on HERS ratings

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0% Stinky. Committed to - reducing or eliminating VOCs and toxins in the homes we build* *Receiving the EPA's Indoor AirPlus certification on every home we build

70%

Tighter and less leaky than a standard new construction home* *based on blower door test/air leakage results

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