Design Options for Design/Builders: In-House Design

In the custom home industry we have two ways to build a home: the traditional bid and build model, or the design build approach. As design build firms, we have two ways as well: in-house and outsourced design. In-house design means the designer is actually on the firm’s staff, while outsourced design means a designer or architect works for another firm, or for themselves. Here, we’re going to talk exclusively about in-house design.

Benefits of In-House Design

Keeping design in-house allows for entire control of the creative, cost and delivery processes, ensuring homeowners of a better overall experience. From a practical standpoint, having a designer on staff means she or he has immediate access to other members of the team who can provide resources and cost feedback in short order. And because the design build firm will also manage the construction, great care is taken to ensure accuracy and completeness of the plans.


Designer Skills and Qualifications

Most homeowners and contractors can tell a good design from a bad one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the creative skills to design a home project from concept to completion. Each may bring a certain know-how to things such as space or function, but the complexities of the total process elude them. The bottom line is that a designer must be qualified and possess the proper skills to do the job. If you want to keep design in-house, ask yourself these 3 questions first:

  • Do you have the experience and skills required to execute the designs and drawings?
  • Can you meet and adapt to every design expectation of your clients?
  • Is your firm legally permitted to offer design services in your market area?

In-House Design Considerations

If you answered yes to the above questions and want to either continue offering design work in-house or add it to your services, consider the following points:

  • Does your current schedule allow for including or keeping up with the demands that design adds to the mix, particularly if your business grows?
  • If you hire a designer to be on staff, is there enough design work alone to keep him or her busy? If not, do they have additional skills that would make them valuable to your firm?
  • What happens if your one designer is unavailable to do the work?
  • Will the homeowners’ projects and design desires be limited by your in-house capabilities and, if so, is that a problem?
  • Do you have a professional designation? If not, what if the homeowners wants the prestige of a professional architect? Likewise, what if the project requires structural engineering?
  • Will you have backup resources who can help you get the design work completed?

If any of these scenarios would affect you or your firm in a negative way, it may not be the right time for you to offer in-house design services, and partnering with other designers may be the answer. Stay tuned for some insights on choosing that option.

At Design Build Duluth, we offer in-house design services to our clients. If you’d like more information on this or any other facet of running a successful design build firm, contact Wyatt today. He’d love to help you discover the ways in which you may be able to improve results in your own design build business.