Call: (856)213-9414

Remodeling Dilemma: Architect or Design-Build Firm

March 8, 2024 Robert Kramer, AKBD

So, you're dreaming of a bigger, better home, complete with a spiffy new addition and a kitchen that'd make Gordon Ramsay jealous. But before the sledgehammers fly and the HGTV cameras roll in, a crucial decision awaits: Should I use an Architect or design-build firm? As your friendly neighborhood remodeler, let me break it down to help you navigate this decision labyrinth.


Architect First: Imagine your home as a blank canvas, and the architect is the artistic maestro. They'll paint a vision, crafting detailed blueprints and considering every nook and cranny. This is perfect for creativity and meticulous planning. You'll get a roadmap to your dream home, ensuring everything flows seamlessly.


  • Unbridled creativity: Let your imagination soar! Architects are design wizards, conjuring up spaces you never thought possible.
  • Technical expertise: They understand building codes, structural integrity, and making your dreams a reality (not a disaster).
  • Independent perspective: They're not swayed by construction costs, focusing solely on creating the best possible design.


  • Cost considerations: Architects typically charge a percentage of the project cost, which can add up quickly. You also can be charged for every change you make and the redesign when you need to value engineer the project.
  • Time investment: The design phase can be lengthy, potentially delaying your dream kitchen gratification.
  • Separate contracts: You'll juggle separate contracts with the architect and builder, which can lead to communication hiccups.


Design-Build Firm First: Think of them as your one-stop renovation shop. They handle both design and construction, offering a streamlined and potentially cost-effective approach. Like a culinary maestro, they'll whip up a delicious design while keeping an eye on the budget.


  • Budget-conscious: They design with construction costs in mind, helping you stay on track financially.
  • Faster turnaround: Streamlined process often means quicker completion times, getting you into your new digs sooner.
  • Single point of contact: One team, one contract, less hassle for you.


  • Limited design flexibility: Their focus might be on practicality over pure artistic expression. This can depend on the talent level of the “designer”.
  • Potential for hidden costs: Be sure to get all details in writing to avoid surprises down the line.
  • Finding the right fit: Not all design-build firms are created equal. Do your research to find one with a proven track record.


Now, here's the twist: While both architect-first and design-build-first approaches can lead to success, there's a secret weapon worth considering, especially for when cabinetry is involved: The Cabinet Coach.

We understand the functional flow of your home like nobody's business. By involving us before the architect or contractor, you can ensure your space is a masterpiece of both aesthetics and functionality.

Here's how we can help:

  • Expert guidance: We offer flat-fee Design Packages, providing several design options to fit your needs without the worry of escalating costs.
  • Problem-solving power: We tackle potential issues early, streamlining the process for the architect or engineer when they come on board.
  • Time and cost savings: Our upfront work saves everyone time, which often translates into cost savings.
  • Kitchen whispering: Think of us as the kitchen whisperers, translating your culinary dreams into a space that works like a charm. We use this same expertise when it comes to your main bath, office, bar, or basement.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Consider your priorities and preferences. Whether you choose architect-first or design-build-first, involving The Cabinet Coach early on can significantly improve the outcome of your kitchen or bathroom renovation.

The Cabinet Coach services, but not limited to, Cherry Hill, NJ – Moorestown, NJ – Marlton, NJ – Voorhees, NJ – Haddonfield,NJ – Medford,NJ – Mt.Laurel, NJ and most of the surrounding towns in Camden County, Burlington County, and Gloucester County. If you would like to know if we service your area just give us a call or send us an email. (856) 213-9414 -

Share This: