Design build contractor is the latest buzz word in the home improvement industry. The term generally means a firm that handles a home improvement project from conception.

But what does it mean to you and how can knowing the difference between a design build contractor and a general contractor save you money?

There are many Triad NC area contractors that claim to be a Design build contractor, a one stop shop format for all your building needs. The term is being thrown around very loosely but this may not be the case.

A true design build contractor takes on full responsibilities of a project to completion based on the approved designs, specifications and general conditions that make up the whole of the construction contract.

Someone who is not, will have a low bid upfront then when unaccounted for items arise after an agreed upon construction contract, you will get charged the additional costs from change orders for the additional work. This means additional charges on top of the original contract price.  These hidden charges can be inflated to make up for the original low cost given at the initial construction contract. Most homeowners end up biting the bullet and giving in to the additional charges being held hostage to having their project completed.

If you have a true Design Build Contractor, if any instances arise that would cause substantial changes and cost to the project within the approved construction contract it is at the responsibility of the design build contractor. They will document the change order for the homeowners’ approval and perform the work at no additional charge.

This is why the time spent during the design phase is well used to account for all the details that go into a home improvement project. The only change orders that should occur are if a homeowner initiates the changes while during the course of construction.

When done correctly there should be no change orders attached to any project! Now you know how to tell the difference and save money on your project.

At Deaton Builder’s, each estimate begins with determining the cost of the project’s material selections and allowance items. We determine these cost by having our Client(s) provide us with a specifications sheet detailing all the finishes required to complete their project.

For example: If you are having your kitchen remodeled, we will provide you with different cabinet manufacturers including styles and finishes to make selections with.  We then visit our cabinet, flooring, appliance, electrical and countertop suppliers and finalize those selections.

We do this for two reasons:

1. To get a true and accurate cost of the project.
2. The majority of our competitors will low-ball your allowance items in order to make their estimate appear lower. For example, they might give you a tile allowance of $3.00 a sf. but when it comes time for you to select the tile after the contract is signed, you decide that you want a tile that cost $4.40 a SF. If you have 1000sf of tile being installed, that means you will be paying the contractor $1,400.00 plus tax and their additional overhead and markup they have specified in their contract.

Another example – Cabinets: I’ve seen our competitors give cabinet allowances in the neighborhood of $250.00 a LF. That’s just not going to happen. It is impossible to price out cabinets per linear foot. The only way to accurately price cabinets is to design the kitchen on a CAD System (Computer Aided Drafting) and then price it accordingly. Don’t get left holding a large change order for thousands of dollars more because your contractor did not do their job by accurately pricing the cabinets before you signed the contract.

Add allowance overages on cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures, countertops and lighting and the next thing you know you are thousands of dollars over your budget. If the project was financed by the bank, you will have to fund the additional cost out of your pocket. No one should be subjected to this type of abuse, but it happens everyday.

How does Deaton Builder’s handle allowances:
Once the material selections have been chosen, we will add those costs  and present it to you for review. Once you have approved the cost and it’s within budget, we add that cost to your estimate as an allowance item.  Using our method of pricing allowance items saves a lot of heartache, surprises and out of pocket expenses later on.

 Deaton Builder’s took our ideas and turned them into reality.  We never dreamed our kitchen could look so wonderful.  We just didn’t know where to start and a friend of ours recommended David and said we would be pleased with his vast area of knowledge and design ideas, boy they were right!

Professional Blueprints and Designsrealistic_blueprints-1600x1200


Deaton Builder’s is one of the early pioneers of the process termed, Design-Build Remodeling. We have offered In-House Professional Blueprints/Drawings and Designs since 1996 that are ready for city permitting with a very fast turn around and at a low fixed cost.

If you are having drawings or designs done by someone other than us, make sure you are quoted a fixed cost and that you are getting a full set of plans that can be used to obtain your permit and to allow estimating. We can’t begin to count how many times we have been called in to start a new design because another contractor, architect or designer has taken advantage of a homeowner by providing them inadequate drawings, only later to be told either “that’s all we offer” or “there will be additional charges”. In many instances these extra charges are more than our fixed cost for the design.


A typical set of Designs or Drawings should include on separate pages:

  • Original Floor Plan: The original area of the building to be changed and showing all original plumbing in the effected area.
  • New Floor Plan: The new layout of the floor plan showing walls, cabinets and plumbing.
  • Electrical Plan: New floor plan showing all new electrical outlets, smoke detectors, lighting, fans and the electrical panel.
  • Roof Plan: Layout of the new roof plan. (For additions only)
  • Framing Plan: Layout of the walls, ceiling and flooring joist. (Required to obtain permit for additions and structural changes)
  • Plot Plan: The original house and addition drawn to show property lines. (Required for additions)
  • Foundation Plan: Drawing details of the foundation.
  • Possible Engineered details that we provide as needed

On average a set of our in-house designs cost:

  • Kitchen: $600.00
  • Bathroom: $400.00 – $1,000.00
  • Small Addition: $900.00 – $1,800.00
  • Medium to Large Addition: $1,500.00 – $ 2,200.00

Most designers and Architects start out at $100.00+ an hour and start charging the moment they enter your home. Neither will be able to provide you an estimate. If they over-design and they often do, your estimates will come in over budget and the design will have to be redone as well as starting the estimate process over again.

To give you an idea of time, a kitchen design and estimate takes on average 15+ hours. At our cost of $750.00, that equals to $50.00 an hour. If you choose a designer, expect to pay $ 1,000.00+ and you still will not have a set of drawings ready for permitting or an estimate.


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