How To Select a Design-build Contractor

Design of a large white and blue building with a patio

A design-build contractor works under one contract to offer design as well as construction services. There are several benefits of the design-build project delivery model. This method helps ensure seamless communication as it eliminates the need for separate contracts. In addition to this, the projects are usually completed faster than traditional project delivery models as it is streamlined through one contractor. For more reasons to consider a design-build contractor, check out our blog on “The Benefits of Working with a Design Build Firm”.

Once you have decided to use the design-build method, start looking for a design-build contractor equipped to bring your vision to life. Remember, not all design-build contractors are created equal. Assess the capabilities and competency of the contractors you’re considering and then choose a contractor who can meet your needs.

If you are looking for design-build contractors near me in Santa Rosa, then reach out to Holly Construction. Our experience and expertise have made us one of the top design-build contractors in Sonoma County.

Here are some tips for selecting the right design-build contractor.

Ask Around

If a friend, colleague, family member, or neighbor has just wrapped up a design-build project, ask them if they’re satisfied with the quality of work and whether they’d consider the contractor for future projects. Were there any hiccups? How did the contractor manage them?
Communication is the secret sauce for project success. Ask your acquaintances who have recently used design-build contractors to rate their communication skills.

Check Contractors’ Reputation and Assess Their Expertise

Before hiring a design-build contractor, go through their portfolio to check if they have managed projects similar to yours in the past and are equipped to deliver your project on time and on budget. Visit to the design-build firm’s social media profiles to see what their clients are saying about them. Check the business’s BBB rating and read comments on independent, trustworthy third-party review sites.

Check Credentials

Make sure the contractor you’re planning to hire has a valid license. To obtain their license, a design-build contractor must demonstrate their expertise. They may be required to submit proof of general liability insurance and industry experience and must pass the licensing exam conducted by the local licensing authority.

You’ll also want to make sure your contractor carries insurance and is bonded. Unfortunately, despite all precautions, accidents can still occur on a construction site. If you hire an uninsured contractor and a construction crew member gets hurt while working on your construction site, you may be forced to bear their treatment expenses. If, on the other hand, you hire an insured design-build contractor and someone on their team slips, trips, or falls and sustains injuries while working on your site, the contractor’s insurer handles the claim.

Accreditation and Industry Certifications 

Before you hire a contractor, find out if they are certified by reputable industry bodies such as the Design-Build Institute of America and the National Association of Home Builders. To get certified by an industry association, a design-build contractor must demonstrate their expertise and fulfill requirements set forth by the body. Certified contractors must commit to lifelong learning and abide by ever-evolving regulations to maintain their certifications.

Talk to Contractors’ References

Request the design-build contractor you are considering to provide a list of references. If a contractor does not respond to your repeated requests to provide a reference list, you may want to consider other options. Once you have a reference list, call the contractor’s references, and ask them the following questions to assess the contractor’s expertise and capabilities.

➢ Did you get an estimate? Did the contractor explain the costs to you?
➢ Did the design-build contractor stay on budget? If not, why, and were you apprised of any additional costs beforehand?
➢ Were there any delays? If so, why (avoidable vs unavoidable reasons)?
➢ Did the professional show you the schedule and explain it to you before starting the project?
➢ Did the contractor use subcontractors? If so, did the subcontractors meet your expectations?
➢ How likely are you to recommend the contractor to your friends and family members or consider them in future?

Get Multiple Estimates

Invite at least three design-build estimates. A good design-build estimate includes a breakdown of all project costs and details related to the materials to be used. It specifies the contract’s start and finish date and explains the scope of work in detail.

When evaluating an estimate, check every cost element. If you do not understand one or more cost elements, call the contractor’s office. Ask if there are any other costs than the ones included in the estimate involved.

Though cost is an important factor to consider, avoid basing your decisions on cost alone. Remember exceptionally low pricing can be a red flag and may indicate that the contractor is an amateur.

Interview Design-Build Contractors

Once you have shortlisted contractors, call their offices to schedule initial consultation sessions. An initial consultation session with a design-build contractor near you is an opportunity to assess their skills and expertise and understand their process. Before meeting a contractor, do your homework. Check their portfolio and learn about the services they offer.

Here are some questions to ask a design-build contractor during your initial consultation session.

➢ How long have you been working in this industry?
➢ Do you foresee any project challenges? How do you plan to manage them?
➢ Do you have insurance?
➢ How do you ensure your clients get regular project updates?
➢ Will you or a subcontractor manage my project?
➢ How do you make a project schedule?
➢ Can you give me a timeline?

Holly Construction is a renowned design-build contractor in Sonoma County. No matter how complicated your design-building project is, our team of design-build experts can manage it flawlessly. To make an appointment, call 707-541-0700.