Dancing Dog Design Build uses the design-build system, an integrated system in which design services, traditionally performed by an architect, and build services, traditionally provided by a general contractor, are combined into one: the design-build team.


Important advantages of the design-build system include cost management, efficiency, faster process, collaboration, flexibility, and transparency.

Cost management

One entity is accountable for everything: how the end result looks, how much it costs, and the timeline of completion. When the same group that designs the project also builds it, much more attention is given to pricing and scheduling in the design phase.

The cost of everything is taken into account early on in the process—all fees, construction costs, utilities, landscaping allowances—in a word, everything. As general contractors, we’re intimately aware of the costs of any given idea.

So many times a client has come to us and said, “My architect said this could be built for X,” and then we’ve the unhappy task of telling them that their project is going to cost twice or three times what the architect had estimated. At that point they may have already invested a great deal financially and emotionally in a concept that they won’t be able to realize.

By having a general contractor involved from the beginning of the design-build process, you have a much greater chance of developing a project that can be built within your budget.


A design-build firm is involved from start to finish, which adds an inherent efficiency. The chance for things to fall through the cracks is greatly diminished. Having designed a project both in our heads and on paper, building in three dimensions (3D) is an easy transition.

This efficiency can translate into cost savings: the Design Build Institute of America, in reviewing hundreds of projects—both residential and commercial—found average savings of 10 percent on total project costs.

Faster process

The design-build process often allows you to begin building sooner. The traditional system requires the architect to design the complete project, then solicit bids from multiple contractors, after which the winning contractor must make arrangements with all his or her subcontractors—a process that can add considerable time to the project start time. By having the general contractor also design the project, all of these steps can occur concurrently.


Design-build operates under the assumption that clients want to be active participants in the design and construction of their homes. Rather than dictate to clients “our” vision, we believe that the most satisfying and fun results come as a result of developing a concept together.

We provide the construction expertise, clients provide their vision, and together we build something that will delight the eye without making a hole in your pocketbook. With a background in the visual arts, Dancing Dog Design Build leader Cynthia Sharon believes that the aesthetics of a project are equally as important as the cost.


In a traditional, architect-designed, fixed-bid project, every single item must be defined a priori. Any changes require a laborious process of revision and change orders. On the other hand, in a design-build project, there is more flexibility to respond organically, as new ideas arise.


As part of the design-build process, clients are involved with each cost-point decision. Instead of a single sum, “this will cost X,” we provide a breakdown of all the costs, allowing clients to make more informed decisions about what the costs and benefits of any particular decision are.


While there are many advantages to integrating the design and building stages of creating a home, deck, or other project, there are situations where it’s less effective. It’s not recommended, for example, if clients are completely unsure of what design sense appeals to them. It’s also not recommended if they want aesthetic and design decisions taken care of by someone else or if they can’t make the time commitment required.

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