Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build: What’s The Difference?

Considering a renovation in NYC and wondering whether you need a design-build or design-bid-build firm? Let's break down the differences between the two approaches.

August 4, 2022


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Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build: What’s The Difference?

Breaking down the differences between renovating your home with a design-build firm versus a design-bid-build firm.

Table of contents

Considering a renovation in NYC and wondering whether you need a design-build or design-bid-build firm? Let's break down the differences between the two approaches.


A design-build firm maintains responsibility for the entirety of a renovation project. Put another way, a design-build firm includes both the designer and builder (and sometimes Architect when required) working for the same company. 

People often unwittingly work with a separate designer and architect, or a separate designer and architect and builder. With a design-build firm, multiple relationships are streamlined into one, making the planning process and renovation more seamless and more cost efficient for the clients.

[#Distinct]The Distinct Advantages of Design-Build[#Distinct]

Below are the main advantages of a design build approach to home renovations in New York. 

Increased Quality 

Renovations in New York require the utmost attention to detail and when all parties involved are working in tandem and not in siloes, there is less chance for error.

Streamlined Communication

With so many moving parts during a renovation, having effective communication is essential to a successful end result. Since design-build firms have all parties involved under one roof, communication between design and construction is seamless and leaves less project management for homeowners. 

Change Orders Less Likely 

With a full-service team of design and construction professionals experienced in the complexities of NYC renovations, design-build firms make change orders and mid-project budget adjustments much less likely.

Minimized Risk 

By having the designer and contractor in-house and working in tandem from day one, design-build projects have less margin for error and are more likely to meet expectations.

[#Potential]Potential Pitfalls of Design-Build[#Potential] 

Below are some potential disadvantages of a design-build approach to home renovations. 

No Price-Shopping For Build

When hiring a full-service design-build firm, homeowners are getting all elements of the project in one - the designer and the build contractor. The design-build firm sets one price for the entire project, start to finish, inclusive of every single nuance associated with the renovation. While convenient, that also means homeowners cannot bid out the construction phase of their project to multiple builders, in order to find the most competitive price. One way to deal with this is to compare numerous proposals from various firms.

Trust Is Everything

Hiring a company for anything requires somewhat of a leap of faith. Hiring a design-build firm for your home renovation requires research and confidence in your decision. Since design-build firms handle every aspect of your project, they’re solely responsible for meeting your high expectations. Choose wisely. 

Kitchen from full renovation of Brooklyn condo. View the full renovation before and after.


This renovation method requires the homeowner to contract a designer or architect to render the project design. They then bid out the construction to a separate build contractor, who will build out the design in full. Designers and contractors are not contractually obliged to one another and often require coordination from the homeowner to guide the project.

[#Design-Bid-Build]The Distinct Advantages of Design-Bid-Build[#Design-Bid-Build]

On the fence? Below are some of the advantages of a Design-Bid Build approach to home renovations. 

Hands On The Wheel

For homeowners with project management expertise and time to manage multiple contractors, having the full control of their home renovation project might be the ideal route. While this definitely creates a substantial amount of burden on their shoulders, being in the driver’s seat allows the homeowner to be the sole decision-maker. 

Competitive Bid Pricing

By bidding out the various aspects of a home renovation, the homeowner is able to get competitive prices from various contractors vying for the job - potentially saving on costs by forming a lower-priced team for the job. 

Additional Architect Involvement

By going the design-bid-build route, homeowners are able to find architects that have more unique and specific design styles, with potential for an extremely personalized renovation. (IE: very unique design aesthetics). 

[#Pitfalls]Potential Pitfalls of Design-Bid-Build[#Pitfalls]

Below are the disadvantages of a Design-Bid-Build approach to home renovations. 

Change Order Disorder 

Renovating a home almost always results in a few unexpected surprises. For instance, what happens when old cloth-wiring is encountered during demo? Or, how about if corroded plumbing is found in a pre-war condo? READ MORE: Common Surprises When Renovating A NYC Apartment. Without proper inspections from professionals at the right times in the process, planning for these hiccups becomes nearly impossible and change orders become likely. 

Extended Timelines 

When unforeseen circumstances happen like mentioned above, timelines will inevitably be extended. 

Communication Breakdown 

In an ideal world, the designer or architect hired for the renovation transitions the project seamlessly to the build contractor, and oversees their work towards completion - in order to ensure the design plans are 100% met. Yet, this type of smooth transition in the design-bid-build environment is rare. Instead, designers often hand-off the plan and leave the implementation of their design solely in the hands of the contractor - resulting in lack of communication between parties and much more room for error. 

Project Management Overload 

Even though being in control of a renovation can provide firm hierarchy, the singular leadership can often become a burden for homeowners. Between balancing conversations amongst contractors, material selection and procurement, plus filing permits and getting approvals, the amount of moving parts are almost always better managed by seasoned professionals who regularly handle complex renovation projects and know exactly what to expect from every angle.

Brownstone renovation in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Compared]Compared: Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build[#Compared]

At their core, the main difference between design-build vs design-bid-build is that design-build offers a full-service, all-inclusive renovation package for homeowners who value a partner with one main point of contact to oversee the entire process, whereas design-bid-build delivers a more piecemeal approach that allows for more flexibility. ALSO READ: The Pros And Cons Of Design-Build Vs Architectural Firms.

Why Choose Gallery As A Design Build Firm?

If you work with Gallery, you can rest easy knowing we plan, design, and execute all of our NYC home renovations with client care front and center. To see for yourself, explore more of our work, or contact us to take the next step towards your upcoming renovation goals.

Chief Revenue Officer

Alex Ushyarov

Alex Ushyarov is the Chief Revenue Officer of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. Recognizing the importance of differentiation in a competitive industry, Alex has developed a clear and compelling brand identity for the company. Through meticulous market analysis and a deep understanding of customer needs, he has honed the firm's unique value proposition, highlighting its ability to deliver innovative, sustainable, and high-quality design-build solutions.




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