How A Design Build Firm Keeps You In Charge Of The Cost


Managing the cost of a remodel can often feel like climbing a very dangerous mountain. Do it right, and there’s something spectacular waiting for you at the end. But even a small mistake could be incredibly costly. What you need is a guide to help you manage the risks and take the safest path to your goal. Fortunately, a design-build firm can help you remodel your home while keeping you in charge of the cost.

Robbins Construction uses the design-build model to guide homeowners through the remodeling process. Every home remodel must fit a specific set of needs and a specific budget. We want you to love the result and not panic when you look at the invoice! The design-build process makes it possible for you to balance those two factors from start to finish.

Does that sound good to you? Great! Let’s talk a bit more about how the design-build process ensures that you remain in charge of the cost of your remodel.


In every remodel, the scope and cost are directly correlated. When the scope increases, the cost does with it. Makes sense! Working with a design-build firm like Robbins Construction gives you complete control over the scope and cost of your project. How? Your design and build team are all working together, for you, with complete transparency.


What sets a design-build firm apart from independent designers or contractors is its ability to connect cost directly to designs.  An interior designer often has no way of accurately predicting how much it will cost to build their designs. An independent contractor will likely have a difficult time adjusting a set of pre-made designs in the middle of construction to meet your budget. Luckily, we have both designers and project managers in-house! They have all the information they need to accurately budget how much it will cost to build a set of designs. As a result, they also know how changes to the plans set can raise or lower the overall cost.

Let’s recap, in a design-build firm, designers and project managers work together to draft design plans and build a budget. We’ll make your vision become a reality at a price-point you’re comfortable with.


When you first start designing a remodel, the first two things our designers will ask are:

  • Question 1: What problems do you need to solve in your current space?
  • Question 2: What is your budget?

As you work with your designer to develop a vision for your remodel, those two questions provide the boundaries that will dictate where we go from there. Your team will use the following budgeting process to guide your project.

  • Stage 1. Your build team analyzes the cost of past projects similar to the one you’re proposing
  • Stage 2. You’re provided with an initial budget range for your project based on the scope
  • Stage 3. As your designs develop, your team assembles a custom budget based on cost projections, past projects, and similar products you might select.
  • Stage 4. Once your remodel design plans are complete, your team uses the plans to develop a firm construction cost.
  • Stage 5. If necessary, your design team will help you adjust your project scope to fit what you want to spend.


When faced with the choice between scope and cost, it’s important that you recognize where you are willing to compromise. Perhaps your initial budget for a fully custom kitchen remodel was $80,000. However, to accomplish what you had planned, you’ll have to spend $100,000. Your option is to either raise your budget by $20,000 or reduce the scope and complexity of your remodel. We know, we wish we could make wine from water too!

If the specific elements above your price point are important to you, maybe that $20,000 is worth it. If there’s wiggle room, perhaps you’d rather downgrade your cabinet line or appliance package, instead. Or maybe, the best option is a compromise – you increase your budget by $10,000 and reduce the scope to meet a total budget of $90,000.

Moral of the story, the choice is yours. You don’t have to go over your budget — there are solutions to get you a remodel while reducing its overall cost by reducing its scope. Your design team can help you adjust your plans to fit your budget.


Your build team will do their best to provide you with an accurate cost projection for your remodel. However, there are things that can be out of our control, and there’s a chance some issues may arise that result in your final bid price coming in significantly higher than the initial budget.

We all know the supply chain has been all over the place lately. It’s possible that the cost of items or services could increase significantly between the initial budget and final pricing. For example, in 2021, the cost of lumber tripled in just a few months, raising remodeling costs, too. With inflation on the rise, it’s not uncommon for prices to change even month to month. We’ll be as transparent as possible to ensure you aren’t surprised later on! Once we know, you’ll know.

The materials and finishes you select cost more than expected

The initial budget of a remodel uses average costs for material and finish selections. If you select high-end light fixtures, flooring, cabinets, or tile, that can drastically increase the material costs of your remodel. We use a “Good, Better, & Best” ranking system to help you make selections. Be mindful of these decisions — if you’re choosing a lot of items in the better to best categories, expect your budget to come in on the high side. Rest assured, we always use products we know are “good” at a minimum!

Constant scope changes make it impossible to establish a budget

You should want a remodel design that meets your needs as a homeowner. However, if you are constantly adjusting the scope of your remodel (i.e. adding a bathroom remodel to a kitchen remodel or changing from a 1 to 2-story addition), it becomes impossible to start solidifying your budget.

This is a big commitment, we understand you may want to make little changes to your design to fine-tune it. We’re thinking more like adding salt and pepper to your chicken, not deciding you want beef instead. That prevents your team from being able to advance your project through the costing process. If designs are constantly changing, your design retainer will be used before your designs are complete. If this happens, you’ll have to pay another design retainer to continue the process. Not fun, we know.


When a homeowner finds themself in the uncomfortable position of being over budget on their remodel designs, the natural response is to try and reduce the cost themself. For many, the easiest way to do this would at first seem to be a line-item breakdown of the budget to the smallest detail possible. Then they could go through and determine what they could cut.

Ultimately, this isn’t the best way to figure out how to reduce the costs of the remodel. We’ll learn more about this on our next blog post!


We hope you have a better understanding of how to stay in control of your remodel cost when working with a design-build firm! Are you ready to start designing your remodel, but don’t know how to get the ball rolling? Get connected with a member of our design team. We’ll schedule a free design consultation to talk with you about your project and how to manage its cost.