How to Find a Design-Build Contractor

How To Find a Design-Build Contractor

Working with a design-build team means that all of the workers, from the architect to the construction workers, are signed under one contract. There is a myriad of benefits to working with a design-build team, including the fact that these teams have a proven track record of working together seamlessly, with thorough communication and the goals of the client in mind. 

The design of the building is an entirely different project than the construction itself, which is why the construction company will generally send a separate bill for each service even when it is all under one contract. Most contractors prefer to work from a design that is already developed, but some companies offer design as an additional service.

What Is The Difference Between Design-Build and Normal Contractors 

There is one major difference between working with a design-build team and a normal contractor. With a design-build team, you are hiring both the designer and the contractor under one contract. A traditional construction management team generally includes an architect, a contractor, and the client (or their representative). 

During the design and planning phase, the architect and contractor will hash out the details of the building project and work together to make improvements in the plan before executing it. While the building is being constructed the architect will check-in to see if the contractor is building the design adequately. 

When working with a design-build team there is no such architect/contractor accountability system and the client trusts the contractor to expertly design and oversee the building of the project. 


  • Save time by hiring under one contract 

  • Could save the client money on design services 

  • Designer and contractor will be in agreement on the building plan 


  • No architect/contractor accountability so the contractor must be very trustworthy

  • The design may be less creative and innovative compared to working with an outside designer

Where To Find Design-Build Contractors For Your Building Project 

There are design-build contractors for hire in most regions and there may be some competition between them. The best way to ensure that the design-build contractor you hire is the best for the job is to review their past experience and construction portfolio. 

Finding a design-build contractor near you shouldn’t be hard, but make sure that you don’t just choose the one that is the closest or bids the cheapest price. Here are some ideas for questions to ask when interviewing potential design-build contractors for a project. 

  • Budget: On previous projects has the design-build contractor team come in on budget, over budget, or under budget? The goal of a great construction team is to save the client money without cutting corners. If the design-build team has a proven track record with client testimonials that they were able to save the individual or company money, this is a good sign. Lots of over budget previous projects should be a red flag when shopping around for design-build contractors. 

  • Process: The process of the design-build will vary between companies and teams. Ask the design-build team about their process during the project planning and development stage all the way to completion. In particular, you want to ensure that the design-team communicates thoroughly between all of the team members as well as with the client and management to ensure that clients’ goals are met with the project. 

  • License: Find out early on what kind of license is held by all of the members of the design-build team. Each professional contractor should be licensed under the law for the kind of work they will be doing. This also includes construction workers operating machinery during the course of construction, the team needs to ensure that everyone is up to date and well trained, with a license, to ensure no legal issues arise and that the project is a safe jobsite for everyone involved. 

Virginia Design-Build Contractors

Need a design-build contractor in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia? Carlton Building Services is an experienced construction company made up of licensed specialists. We can be a valuable resource to your building project, helping you successfully complete the job safely and under budget. We look forward to hearing from you. 

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.