Frequently Asked Questions

What is Design-Build?

Design-Build is using one firm to provide both functions, from dreaming of what could be to walking into the finished product.

What are the benefits of Building Solutions’ Design-Build model?

Budget-Based-Design – Making costing an integral part of the design process enables us to let your budget drive the design instead of the reverse. In traditional models, the design professional is hired first, and only after they have completed 90% of their work do the plans go out to bid at the general contractor level. It’s easy to imagine that this method often leads to delays, additional expense, and heartache when it becomes clear the project you are (and have) invested in will not be built.

Budget-Based-Design avoids all that by using the project budget spreadsheet to inform the design process to keep costs strictly under control.

Fewer Change Orders – Our “cartooning” process (ask us!) means fewer assumptions and ambiguities and greater detail in costing. This greater detail makes it easier to create the “a’ la carte” pricing system we use. All this results in better planning overall which of course then results in fewer change orders.

Better Communication – Nobody points fingers at anyone because there’s only one finger. You’ll never be caught in the middle between the design professional and the builder because they one in the same. That means you only make one phone call to one firm for the entire project.

Less Coordination Between Project Participants – There is a single point of responsibility for design and layout, product selection, project budget, scheduling, and project construction. Clients can eliminate the headache of coordination between an architect and a builder themselves.

Shorter Pre-Construction Process – Since the budget planning is part of the design process, you know that when the design is done, the budget is done. That means no lengthy costing and re-costing process, since the competitive bidding process has already occurred (ask us more about this). You can get started on your dream right away.

Will Design-Build save money?

Yes! Here are some of the ways:

Bringing Building Expertise to the Design Process – Builders know best how to build. We also have an intuitive sense of construction costs that only comes from long experience actually Building. We bring this expertise and intuition to the design process, keeping costs down by providing the best Design and construction solutions to fit your needs and your budget. The biggest bang for your buck, built right into the Design process.

Making Certain all Costs are Known Up Front – Remodeling is all about where to stop and what affects what- the “domino effect”. Only an experienced builder can know what all the dominos are and where they might fall. And because we’re also the designer, we can name and price all those dominos up front so that they don’t become unexpected surprises (read: change orders) during construction. Nobody wants that.

Keep the Design Process Short – Good Design is always an iterative process. Whether you are designing a vacation, a ball-point pen, or a construction project, the “first pass” of Design is rarely the end result. By actually using the project budget spreadsheet to make design choices in form or finishes as part of the design process, drawings, engineering, and specifications that reflect those choices are done in a minimum amount of time and expense. We prefer not to pay the structural engineer twice.

Why should I choose Building Solutions?

We’re Creative – Whether you’re looking for solutions aesthetic, spatial or structural, our combined experience of over 100 years in the business of building means the best possible Design solutions for your project.

We’re Good Builders – Building, like so much else in life, is often about risks, costs, and benefits. It’s important to understand the varied risks of the (likely) many different solutions to your needs. We’ll investigate all the possibilities to make sure your construction decisions are informed ones. Oh, and one more thing- we just do good work…

Budget Based Design – We deliver on the promise of the Design-Build model like no-one else. We created the Budget-Based Design process so that you will never have to live the nightmare of spending money on a design that will never get built due to cost. Ask us more about this!

Completely Transparent Pricing – We like to say that there is not a single unit of information involved in your project that you don’t have access to if you want. Actual Sub-contractor invoices, actual costs for fixtures, and a clear and easy-to-understand pricing process that lets you see ALL the numbers.

Competitive Bidding at the Sub-Contractor Level – Of course you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible price for your project- who doesn’t? Our promise to you is that we’ll keep bidding out all the trades (plumbing, electrical, paint, etc.) and the finishes (doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, etc.) until you say stop. We want you to sleep at night knowing that you’re getting the best possible price for your project.

Completely Transparent Billings (and the Line-Item Veto!) – The traditional “Milestone” billing methods are fraught with potential mischief, both for the Client and the Contractor. Front-loading, large deposits, and the uncomfortable feeling that you’re not really sure what you are paying for when you write those big checks are just some examples. It’s a huge leap of faith to take with someone whom you’ve just met.

With Building Solution’s unique and detailed billing method, you know exactly what you’re being billed for, and if you aren’t comfortable paying for any particular line item, just cross it out until you are. It’s just not possible to give you more control over the disbursement of your hard-earned construction dollars.

Precise Budget Tracking – Imagine tracking all your project expenses on one easy-to-read sheet. At any point in the project, you know exactly where you stand on the roofing, the flooring, the framing, the paint. It’s all about managing information in a way that is easy to read, easy to use. Ask to see a sample!

The Kind of Relationship You Want to Have With Your Builder – As you can see from reading above, we do things a little differently than most Design-Build firms. We believe that these differences make us partners with our Clients in the Design-Build process. Without complete transparency in pricing and billing, competitive bidding that you control, and a tracking sheet to tie it all together, the relationship between Client and Builder is an adversarial one, not the kind of partnership you want to be in when making one 0f the largest investments of your life.

Does Building Solutions charge a fee for the Initial Design Consultation?

No, the first meeting is free. We want to get to know you and your home or commercial space and hear from you what your needs and desires are. Then we’ll talk about possibilities, challenges, and opportunities. By the time we’re done, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s possible within your budget.

How long is a typical Consultation?

Anywhere from 45 mins. to 2 hours, depending on your project. We want to make certain we’re clear about what you want and discuss all the possible options and their associated cost ranges.

How can I best prepare?

– Make a list of all the things that you want to get out of your project. That’s different than what you want the project to look like. It’s the difference between “We need to be able to work at home” and “We want to add on a room for a home office”. Focus the list on what your needs and desires are. Any project under consideration must satisfy those criteria first.

– Now write down your thoughts of how your needs may best be served. Often times the first step above opens you to possibilities you may not have considered.

– Make a list of questions you might have about our firm, the Design-Build process, or any concerns you might have about any part of your home.

Who needs to be present?

It’s usually best if all the stakeholders are there. There is a great deal of information presented and reviewed during the initial consultation. We also know from experience that anyone with a creative or financial stake in the project will want to be able to ask questions that are unique and important to them.

What will be covered during the consultation?

Number One: budget-informed design. Getting the budget out in front, driving the design process (rather than the other way around) is the best way to do design. We’ll also review the Pre-Construction Process – everything that has to happen between today and the first day of on-site construction on your project. This includes Creative Design, Costing and Value Planning, Engineering (if needed), Permits, Plans, etc. We want you to understand and be comfortable with the whole process before we begin.

How do I schedule the Consultation and what hours are available for them?

Call our office at 415-459-3349 to schedule a meeting at your location. Our available appointment times are Monday through Friday between 6 am and 4pm.