There are a lot of different people with design-build teams, but that doesn’t mean that every available option is the best for your specific needs. We all have different benefits that we look for in the teams that we work with—and major remodels can be a bit intimidating if you don’t fully trust the team that you choose to go with.
“It is a little scary to let a team of strangers inside our home. How do we know they will do a good job?”
“Plenty of people do this, and I’m sure that once we get to know the team, we will feel a lot better about it. Don’t worry.”
Let’s discuss what to look for in a design-build team so that you can have a positive experience.
Is Your Design-Build Team One Company?
This is not so much a determining factor as it is a point of consideration for you. Some teams offer a full in-house design and build team, but that isn’t always the case. Plenty of construction teams choose to work with external design teams. Each option has its own benefits and inconveniences, so consider what you are looking for in your team.
A team that runs everything in-house will generally add a wonderful and efficient feel to your team. The majority of these individuals will have clear communication and a set plan to work alongside their design team, and this can be really helpful for getting everyone into the same room and on the same page. We offer this for some projects, but not all of them.
“So, you guys don’t actually do the design work here? Is that normal?”
“No, we prefer to choose the right designer for each of our clients, so we work with several talented design firms instead. This allows us to offer you even more.”
Choosing to work with an external design team can be great because it means that you are more likely to receive a design team that specializes in the style that you want to see—and this has big advantages. At KHB Construction, we love to work with external teams for our designs, and we have adapted our workflow to accommodate this in order to offer that same seamless and efficient experience.
Whether the team is in-house or composed of third-party professionals, either can offer a great design.
Is Your Team Listening?
A home renovation is probably one of the most personal things that you will do—with an external team of builders and designers, of course. Every aspect of your renovation should come directly from your vision for your future home. You are the one who will be living in this space, which is why it is so important to be able to trust that when you say you want something, your team will help bring it to fruition.
“I’m looking for something similar to the design in this photo. Is this something that we can do?”
“Absolutely! I love that you came prepared. We can certainly work with this and make exciting changes to make it all your own, so get those creative juices flowing!”
Your team should be genuinely interested in what you say and able to take that vision and bring it to life. You should be able to express your design preferences for your home renovations and feel that your wishes are being taken into consideration. It is the job of your team to be able to take that vision and turn it into something incredible. This is equally as important when the design is being created as it is if you ever speak up to make changes during the build phase.
“On second thought, we realized that the lime green cabinets might not have been the best choice.”
“That’s okay—it’s a good thing that we caught this now. Let me talk you through our change request process so we can find a great replacement.”
An important consideration when you enter the design or build process is that you might not end up with your exact vision. The final product for your renovation will be influenced by what materials are available, what your budget is, and even certain limitations that might apply to your home or area—but this should never stop you from ending up with a renovation that you love.
“I know that we really wanted marble—but this tile you recommended really does look amazing.”
“We’re glad that you like it. It offers a similar look, but kept the entire project under budget so you could have those gorgeous cabinets.”
If it feels like your team is pressuring you or not taking your suggestions into consideration, this can be a bad sign. You want to work with a team that is ready to bring your vision to life, not a team that just sees it as another build. When your voice isn’t being heard, it generally means that it is time to work with a team that is more interested in your input. Your vision should be clear in every element of the remodel.
Are They Solution-Based?
In a truly perfect world, every single design and build would work out exactly as planned. Unfortunately, the reality of construction work isn’t always that simple—or very simple at all. Sometimes problems do arise, and when they do, you want to be sure that you can trust in your team. Working with a solutions-based team will help you to feel comfortable knowing that if something does go wrong, your team will step up.
Problems can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes there might be accidents or issues with the team itself, like someone spontaneously missing work due to a family problem. Other times it might be one of those difficult challenges life throws at us like a sudden COVID-19 outbreak or dangerous inclement weather. Something as simple as the vendor sending the wrong paint can influence the project budget or timeline, and these things do happen every once in a while.
“So how is this hurricane going to affect our remodel exactly?”
“We know that it will impact the timeline a little bit, but don’t worry. Once everything clears up and we sort through any issues with shipping, we can get everything rescheduled so you can enjoy your remodel in no time!”
Even though problems can arise like this, that shouldn’t mean that your entire remodel is compromised. A solutions-based team will be aware of these potential challenges and have clearly defined solutions that can help you to recover as quickly as possible. No construction team has a magic wand that will fix everything as far as we know (but we would certainly appreciate one!), but a solutions-based team can seem like magic when they really get going. We aim to offer clear and efficient solutions that will help keep things moving right along and offer a solution that you are happy with.
There are a variety of different parameters that can affect the timeline and any solutions. When your team fixes something, they likely won’t have an unlimited budget or several years to get the job done. This is where efficiency and strategy come together to ensure that no matter what challenges pop up, your team can navigate them without compromising the integrity of the original plan.
Are They Setting Expectations with You?
In the construction world, communication is the key to building trust. Having a team of strangers in your home working in your space can feel intimidating—or even just a little awkward. Communicating with the team can help you to feel more comfortable with the process, and this is something that every team that you consider should be doing.
By setting expectations, we mean: what are they telling you? How much do you know about the process and what it will entail? A high-performing team knows that more is more when it comes to communicating with a client. You should have a clear understanding of what is going on in your home—and what that means on a daily basis. A team that doesn’t communicate clearly can leave you feeling confused or even worried, and that is not something that anyone wants.
“Wait, what day did they say they were ripping out the walls?”
“I can’t remember, but I’m sure it is on the schedule in the online portal. If not, I can just send them a quick message. They always reply same-day.”
When you work with a great team, you should feel like an unofficial member of the group. It is important that you feel welcome in their space and that you feel confident speaking up or asking questions. If your team seems to be communicating with each other but not you, that might not be the best fit for your needs. In fact, it can feel pretty uncomfortable.
From day one, your team should keep you up to date on what they will be doing and what you can expect. Look for teams that offer clear communication with regular updates, shared timelines, and a space for questions if you have any.
This can feel like personal preference, but communication really becomes important if something goes wrong. When an issue arises, will you feel confident that your team is going to contact you and discuss the changes? Do you feel confident that they will include you in the decision-making process and inform you what steps that they are taking to move things along? Your team should be open with you, so if you’re feeling left out of the process, it might be a good idea to reconsider.
Are They Reputable?
When you begin the discovery phase and are ready to sign, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself what you know about the design-build team. Making sure that the team is reputable and has offered beautiful solutions for others is very important. While plenty of new teams do good work, they might not be your best fit depending on the project.
A business’s reputation can tell you a lot about whether they are worth the investment or should be passed up on. To determine this, you will want to start where everyone else does: online reviews. Most companies have at least a few online reviews, and they can be very telling. If you notice that a company has several “horror stories” written out in their reviews, you might just decide that they are not going to be the right fit—and that is a good decision to make. You want to work with a team that can deliver, and unfortunately, not every team can.
“Have you ever worked on a remodel like this before?”
“We just finished one up last week and our client is over the moon. We’ll send you some photos so you can start getting excited now!”
A construction team’s reputation stretches well beyond reviews. The truth is that you almost never know what kind of projects a review actually relates to. The person who had a good experience might have had a new sink put in when you are looking to remodel your entire house. This can make reviews misleading—and the sad truth is that some companies fake reviews too.
Before you ever work with a contract team, you should always ask them about their previous work. Any contractor that is truly worth the investment will have a portfolio, and they should be able to speak to each of their builds. Ask your team to see their previous work, and ask them if they feel like a good match for your needs. You should work with a team that knows how to handle your remodel, in particular.
Another great consideration is whether or not they have ever worked on a project with your size or budget. A team can be wonderful at smaller remodels and completely unprepared to navigate something as big as the one that you are asking for—and don’t just ask for pictures.
If you really want to know about a contractor’s quality of work, ask for references. Ask if you can speak with a client or hear from them how they felt about the experience. A surprising number of people do this, and the homeowner might even share some really helpful
At the end of the day, having a good team can make or break your experience with home remodels. Everyone deserves to have a remodel that they are excited to show off, but not every remodel comes with a positive experience. Before you sign on that dotted line, be sure to ask a few questions of your team. You deserve a wonderful remodel and a wonderful experience, so put in the work to make sure you get it. After that, it will be smooth sailing!