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Remodeling your kitchen? Here’s why a Design-Build might be the best option for you

Originally written by Dima Williams | The Washington Post

When a dishwasher, refrigerator and double oven — all builder-grade and all nearly 20 years old — failed in a brief span in late 2017, Dan and Marianne Casserly pondered their options.

They could undertake an extensive kitchen remodel, or they could seek a new home for their five-member family.

“I was intimidated by all of the potential construction and potentially being displaced from our home for a long time,”

The Casserlys had purchased their large, Craftsman-style home in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001, raised three children there and cherished their community, which is why they opted to renovate rather than move.

“There are so many people that are doing more redesigns in their homes than they are finding new houses to move around,” he said.

Spurred by swelling property values, owners remaining longer in their homes and a sluggish new-construction sector, the remodeling industry has boomed since the Great Recession, more than doubling to a record $425 billion in 2017, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Kitchens are among the most popular renovation projects. There were roughly 2 million kitchens remodeled in 2017, costing 140 percent more than they did in 1995, the center calculates in its 2019 “Improving America’s Housing” report.

A minor revamp of a 200-square-foot kitchen, which is roughly the size of a one-car garage, amounts to $22,000 on average, per Remodeling Magazine’s cost-vs.-value analysis. An upscale renovation can surpass $130,000. The National Kitchen and Bath Association puts the average cost of a kitchen remodel, regardless of dimensions, at $34,000, according to its Lifestyle Segmentation Study.

Given the amount of money homeowners spend on kitchen remodels, picking the approach that works best for you is key. Budgets, timelines and your willingness to do the work yourself will dictate the method you choose. Using a Design-build Firm is one way to go about it.

Design-build firm

A design-build firm is a one-stop shop. Staffed with designers and craftsmen, these companies handle everything from inception to completion.

This approach appealed to the Casserlys, who considered a general contractor but ultimately picked Case Design.

“My husband and I both have demanding jobs and we have three teenagers at home who are all involved in sports,” Marianne Casserly said. “We really didn’t have time to manage different contractors.”ADVERTISING

Handling projects in-house, design-build companies have a level of accountability that is rare in the fragmented remodeling industry.

“We are uniquely situated as design-build to put the project together in a cohesive manner,” said Elle Hunter, Case’s director of project development.

Design-build companies handle alterations to plumbing and electrical systems and modifications to load-bearing walls, services designers and even some general contractors often outsource.

“We have been known for changing the rest of the space around the kitchen, maybe taking down a wall or opening up more windows or replacing floors,” said Jonas Carnemark, founder of Carnemark Design and Build.

Although they don’t sell appliances, they usually have relationships with vendors, which allows them to coordinate delivery with the construction schedule.

A common concern with design-build companies is that they focus too much on the overall project and not the finer aspects of the design.ADVERTISING

“There is attention to detail in the kitchen but not on the same level” as a kitchen designer, said Nadia Subaran, co-founder and co-owner of Aidan Design.

A centralized design-build operation can be too formulaic — a trait that promotes reliability but hinders personalization.

This approach is best for homeowners who seek reliability and clarity in the remodeling process but lack the time to oversee it themselves.

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