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Design-Build Home Remodeling: Is it the Right Choice for Your Project?

April 25th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

Does your home need a major overhaul to solve the problems you face in your home?

Need more space in your kitchen? Design-build can take out any interior wall or even an exterior wall and expand your kitchen.

Don’t like where your master bathroom is? Design-build can relocate your bathroom to swap locations with your closet.

If you can dream it, design-build can do it! 

While JSB Home Solutions is not a design-build company, our president and founder started out in the design-build world with J.S. Brown & Co. Regardless of who you work with for your remodeling project, you will have the information you need to decide if design-build remodeling is the right approach for your project.

Table of Contents:

What is Design-Build Remodeling? 

Design-build remodeling is the most customization that you can get in the remodeling industry. If you can dream it, design-build can do it. Also called custom or full-scale remodeling, design-build projects are broken into two phases.

  • First - The Design Phase: In this phase, you will design your project and make material selections with the help of a designer (more on this in a minute).
  • Second - The Build Phase: The build phase starts when construction on your home starts. The build phase will bring your design to life.


A personal designer will guide you through the entire design-build process. They will help you focus your goals and address as many pain points as possible in your remodel. They will accompany you as you visit multiple manufacturers and suppliers for anything from tile to floors, to cabinets, to lighting, and even mirrors. The sky is the limit with a design-build company.

Design-build is the hardest category to put a label on when it comes to cost and timelines. Because projects have such a huge range of work, materials, selections, and nuances the range of cost and timeline possibilities is huge. But we will do our best to give you an idea of what to expect.

Design-build bathroom remodel completed by J.S. Brown & Co.

Design-Build-Bathroom-Remodel-600x401Cost of Design-Build Remodeling

Design-build remodeling has the highest costs of all the remodeling approaches. The higher costs are often worth it for homeowners who want large changes and full customization as well as a personal designer who will maximize the use of the space.

A mid-range design-build kitchen remodel will typically cost between $80,000 to $120,000. A mid-range remodel could include reorganizing layout for efficiency, removing soffits or walls, appliance upgrades, granite or quartz countertops, custom cabinetry, and new hardwood or tile flooring. An upper-range design-build kitchen starts around $125,000 - $200,000+. This cost of a remodel project involves increasing square footage, lighting, electric, and plumbing. It also usually means the homeowner has chosen many luxury items such as oversized kitchen islands (or two), heated tile floors, exotic hardwood floors, and gourmet appliances.

Bathroom design-build projects in half-baths, full-baths, and smaller master baths can range from $40,000 - $60,000. This budget includes high-end, custom products and probably does not alter the layout of the space drastically. Expanding a bathroom and choosing luxury products can put a bathroom remodel in the $70,000 - $125,000 range.

Timeline of Design-Build Remodeling

Because design-build remodeling is completely customized for each homeowner, there is no set standard for products, designs, or plans. This must all be built from scratch in the design phase of the project. Scope of work is typically more extensive and may require structural changes or moving electrical, plumbing, and heating/AC ducts.

Design-build kitchens can take upwards of 6 months to complete. The design phase often takes 6 months itself. Then the actual construction can last 6 months to a year

Bathroom design phases usually take 3 - 6 months and building can take as little as 3 months. But more likely, the project will take 6 - 9 months to build. This involves the demolition, building, making layout changes, and installation of the project.

As you imagine what your home needs to achieve your vision, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of the design-build remodeling approach.

3 Advantages of Design-Build Remodeling

#1 Full Customization

The sky is the limit with design-build remodeling! You will be able to choose from numerous manufacturers, all their color and style options, and tailor your space to suit your needs and personality. Many homeowners also enjoy the detailed process that goes into a design-build project. They also like having a designer whose love for the craft will show through the process.

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#2 Opportunity for Major Structural Changes

Changing room layouts or locations and removing walls is the key difference between remove & replace and design-build. You can get a lot of customization (although not quite as much) with remove & replace remodeling but tearing into the structure of your home is reserved for design-build projects. If changing layouts and removing walls is part of your vision, then design-build remodeling is the choice for you.

Much like changing layouts within your home, design-build contractors can also extend your home with room additions. If you need more space in a kitchen or bathroom, design-build can remove exterior walls and give you an addition that will blend seamlessly with your current home.

#3 Chance to Catch and Fix Underlying Problems

In many older homes, wires and pipes may be outdated or worn out. Design-build remodels usually take the space “down to the studs” as we would say. This means that the walls are completely opened up and you can see what kinds of problems might be hidden behind the drywall. A construction project is the perfect time to address any issues that you find hidden and avoid having to come back to fix them later.

3 Disadvantages of Design-Build Remodeling

#1 Higher Cost than Other Remodeling Approaches

Finances are one of the most influential factors when planning a design-build remodel. And for good reason! The cost is certainly higher than other remodeling approaches. 

Kitchen design-builds start at $80,000 - $120,000 for a mid-sized project and can easily top $125,000 - $200,000+ for large, luxury projects.

Half-baths, full-baths, and small master bathroom design-build projects usually fall between $40,000 - $60,000. Large master bathrooms or expanding bathrooms through combining rooms or an addition to the home can reach $70,000 - $125,000+.

For many homeowners, the higher cost is worth the investment to work with a designer, have complete customization, and be able to address underlying issues that may be hidden within their home. Bathrooms and kitchens are the highest-traffic areas of the home and remodeling these spaces offers a good return on investment as well as increasing the functionality of your living space.

#2 Long TimelinesJSB-Home-Solutions-New-Toilet-Installation-600x400

Design-build remodeling takes a long time, especially compared to facelift and remove & replace remodeling. But good things come to those who wait. Patience and understanding for the process is essential for you to enjoy the remodeling journey and more importantly, be pleased with your final space.

Kitchen design-build can take as little as 6 months or as long as 18 months depending on the kitchen size, scope of work, and materials chosen.

Design-build bathrooms can be completed in just a couple months or extend to 9 months. Once again, this depends on the bathroom size, scope of work, and materials selected by the homeowner.

#3 High Impact on Daily Life

Considering the amount of time that your home will be under construction is vital to setting your expectations with your remodel project. Dirt, dust, noise, people in-and-out, and unusable space will all cause frustration if you have not prepared yourself for these inconveniences beforehand. Design-build companies will do their best to minimize these disturbances but your home will still be a construction site.

Consider what your daily life will look like while your space is under construction. For example, you probably shouldn’t tear out your kitchen two months after a baby is born. Everyone needs sleep and food, two things that will not come easily with a kitchen remodel underway.

If your project requires a design-build approach, the end goal is worth the hassle. Your space will be gorgeous and exactly what you envisioned. Just make sure you are realistic and ask questions of your contractor to make sure you know what is coming your way.

Is Design-Build Remodeling the Right Choice for My Project?

Older and smaller homes are usually in the most need of large-scale remodeling projects. Adding square footage, rearranging home layouts, and opportunities to fix problems hidden behind walls are what sets the design-build approach apart from other methods.

As you set your project goals, imagine your kitchen or bathroom and what it will take to get your current room to match your dream space. If design-build costs are larger and timelines are longer than what you are looking for, consider a remove & replace remodeling project instead.

Don’t compromise what you want your remodel project to accomplish. If you can reach your goals with remove & replace remodeling with a smaller price tag and shorter timeline, fantastic! But if not, design-build is the remodeling approach for you.