When constructing a new home, there are many factors to consider including how to design and build your new home. Two common methods of constructing a custom home are design-bid-build and design-build, but what is the difference between the two and how do you know which is the better option for you? 


Design-Bid-Build vs. Design-Build Construction 

What is Design-Bid-Build?

The design-bid-build process is the most conventional form of construction where the client hires an architect to create a set of plans that is distributed to builders to bid on. Under this structure, design and construction are split between the architect (design) and builder (construction) with separate contracts and responsibilities. The architect has no responsibility for the budget and the builder has no responsibility for design timeline or flaws in the design. Typically, these projects end up with a team (architect, engineers, surveyors, subcontractors, builder, LEED consultant) that does not have extensive experience working with one another.  Also, many times, the design and specifications need to be reworked after selecting a builder and taking into consideration budget, zoning, permitting, engineering, surveying, mechanical design, building logistics and LEED certification resulting in increased design timeline and fees.


What is Design-Build? 

Design-build is a process where the client and builder work collaboratively to design and build a home taking into account all project goals including budget, design features, level of finish, energy efficiency, site considerations and engineering. Design-build projects are collaborative and include input from the architect, trade partners, engineers and the builder to achieve all goals of building a custom home

Pros of the Design-Build method include:  

  • Increased teamwork and collaboration
  • Builder is fully responsible for delivering on all goals of the project
  • Open communication
  • Eliminates boundaries and adversarial conditions
  • Ideal for a variety of building types
  • Faster project delivery
  • Less budgetary surprises


The Design-Build Process at Redknot

At Redknot Homes, we understand how to design and build a home taking into consideration our clients needs, wants and budget.  With this process, Redknot is fully responsible to our clients to deliver on the entire project….there is no shared responsibility.  

With our process, a home is designed collaboratively with a full understanding of the budget, wants/needs, and ultimate goals for the project. Our expertise spans from design to the building components and methodologies, zoning, site considerations and logistics, LEED certification requirements and tax abatement eligibility. As custom home builders, we see all sorts of building methodologies and understand which ones deliver the best cost/benefit return.  Said another way, architects alone do not understand what it costs to build various aspects of a home, we do. The homes that we build follow our proven process and enjoy the following benefits:

1. Shorter Design and Building Timeline

We complete and finalize plans, specifications, pricing, permitting, and zoning much faster than those who choose the design-bid-build route since we are solely responsible for coordinating all aspects of the project. 

2. Better Communication

Communication with our team and to you is superior as we have extensive experience working together along with a deep understanding of the plans and specifications for the project that we designed with our client. 

3. Enhanced Collaboration

Our engineers, surveyors, LEED consultants and building trade partners are involved in the project from the beginning. This is key in Cincinnati and especially with building a LEED rated home in the Hillside Overlay District.  Because we have a dedicated team of professionals and strong working relationships, engineering fees are generally much less during planning and construction and responsiveness is much higher.

4. A Building Partner You Can Trust 

We're invested in the project from the very beginning and don't charge any builders fee during the design phase of the project. With this, we work hard to create a design that will meet your goals and your budget. As a part of the process, we price options and 'nice to haves' so that you essentially have a menu of pricing for items you may want to include in your home.  

Overall our Design-Build Method results in the construction of a quality, custom home that is built more cost effectively and in a shorter time period.  

 Following is an overview of our design-build process from beginning to end: 

  • Introduction and Fact Finding

We’ll discuss in detail about your desired location / lot, budget, size, design/style, and features and explain our RedKnot process, team and timeline 

  • Design and Budgeting

Why wait until the end to price your home??  We don’t like surprises.  After our team has drafted interior floor plans and exterior elevations, we develop a detailed budgetary estimate for your home to make sure it can be built within a budget that you are comfortable with.  If everything is not aligned at this point, we have an opportunity to make adjustments to the plans before spending time and money on construction drawings.

  • Finalize Plans and Specifications

Construction plans, engineering, detailed specifications, and finish levels are created by collaborating with you.  As a part of this process, we’ll define a list of ‘nice to haves’ and ‘must haves’ for your home.

  • Pricing and Contract

Detailed specifications are reviewed with you along with detailed pricing of all allowances.  We don't just set budgets....we show you every single item that supports an allowance so that there are absolutely no surprises.  In this meeting we review a 100+ page set of detailed specifications and sample selections for your home. 

  • Pre-Construction

This is where most of the heavy lifting is done!  While we are working through permitting and financing, our team works with you to make all selections for your home before we begin construction.  Once complete, our construction team (sales, design, selections, construction management and you) review a detailed presentation to confirm design of your home on a room by room basis. This process is critical to ensure we are building the home the way you envisioned it.  

  • Construction

We communicate with you on a regular basis regarding the status of your home.  We 

do this via written updates communicated through our online project management system and scheduled weekly phone calls. 

  • Post Occupancy and Warranty

After we have 'white glove certified' your home, we do a detailed review of your entire home's features, maintenance items, and warranties.  As a part of this, we summarize every warranty that comes with your home in one document.   After you move in, you can expect the same level of communication and service that we delivered during the entire build process.


Now that you’ve learned a little more about design-build construction, we hope you can see the advantages of pursuing this method. We have completed design-bid-build projects for clients before, and by the end of the project, they have all expressed wishing they had done a design-build with us instead. 

If you’re thinking of building a custom home for your family and are interested in learning more about how our process can work for you, please contact us to schedule a consultation. 

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