Can You Customize A Design-Build House?

Posted on: 9 September 2022


People often assume that because the design-build process doesn't involve an outside architect that it's impossible to customize a project. The truth is quite different, though, so let's look at how customization tends to fit into design-build methods.

A Construction Process

Foremost, the important thing to remember is that designing and building a house under a single contract has more to do with streamlining the construction process than anything else. You won't need to work with subcontractors and independent designers because there will be one team. The designers will be in-house professionals at the building firm that takes on the job. Nothing about that will inherently limit your ability to customize the design of your proposed new home.

Locking in the Plans

Notably, customization is highly possible during the design phase. Once you lock in the design, though, you should expect the process to roll quickly into engineering the ground, putting down a foundation, and erecting a frame. In other words, the window for intervening to do further customization once the plans are finalized is practically nonexistent. Design-build organizations don't dawdle once they put plans in the hands of their people in the field.


Generally, the design-build process works best when you limit extreme forms of customization. If the project looks from the outset like it might require significant engineering consulting from outside specialists, that's probably not a great scenario for streamlining everything into a single contractor.

The big thing to remember, however, is that customizing a typical house doesn't usually require specialized engineering knowledge. If the lot doesn't pose any extreme civil engineering or regulatory challenges, you're going to be able to customize it to your heart's delight within the design-build framework. Unless you want to use highly unusual materials like fabricated steel in odd shapes for structural elements, you can readily make most ideas work in a single-contract setup. You will discuss your ideas with the designers, and they'll bounce them off the construction team to determine how to execute them.

Also, it's notable that a lot of home customizations don't present meaningful challenges. If you want to add a rectangular master bedroom with less conventional dimensions, the designer will usually just need a ruler and a CAD (computer-aided design) program to figure it out. Unorthodox designs can often work better in this context because you can trust that you, the designers, and the builders will all be on the same page.

Contact a local contractor to learn more about the design-build process.