Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Design Build Firm

Choosing a remodeling firm can be challenging. You meet with several firms who seem friendly, professional and they have beautiful portfolios that showcase their experience. However, it is a big decision- it’s your home! Apart from purchasing your home, remodeling may be one of the biggest investments you make. Whether you are living through the renovation or relocating during construction, you will spend weeks to months with this firm. How do you make sure you are hiring the right firm? Here’s a list of the top 10 questions to ask before choosing a design build firm.

1. Are they licensed and insured?

Any firm you consider should be licensed in your specific jurisdiction. The license should be held by the company only. Ask for the company’s business license number and verify it online. It is also important that the company you hire is insured. It is good to know what is covered under the company’s policy and how much coverage they have.

2. Can the organization provide you with an outline of their process?

It is important to have a clear understanding of how the firm will develop, manage and execute your project. The firm should schedule regular meetings and discussions to review design ideas, material selections, timelines and budget.

3. Is a permit required and who is responsible for obtaining it?

Most districts require a building permit for a project and there may be several permits required depending on the scope of the project. Obtaining a permit can be costly and time consuming. However, as a home owner, it serves as a source of protection. Permits come with regular inspections by building officials and projects that are built “to code,” are built to a good quality standard. It is important to understand who is responsible for obtaining the permits and how permitting fees will fit into the contract and budget.

4. Who is responsible for overseeing / supervising the work?rk?

There should be a project manager assigned to your home that you can communicate with regularly.

5. What is the projected timeline for the project?

The firm should be able to provide a time frame for your project by comparing it to previous projects of similar scope, the current project schedule, and the number of carpenters in the field.

6. How will the firm monitor and stay within budget?

This is a very important question to ask, especially if you would like to stick within a strict budget. The firm should assist you with selecting finishing’s by eliminating options that are outside of budget and sticking with options that work best for both your budget and aesthetic needs. The firm should also regularly update you with an allowance sheet that shows what you’ve budgeted and selected for.

7. Do they have a list of references you can contact?

A design build firm should be happy to provide a list of references with similar project scopes. Contacting these references should give you a good idea of how your project may go.

8. Do they provide a design and construction agreement?

You should be provided with both a design and construction agreement. The design agreement should include the “as-built” of your home in a 3-D rendering, and multiple concepts depending on the scope of your project and your project goals. A construction agreement is equally important and should outline your entire project. The construction agreement should include: 3-D renderings of your project, a project schedule, schedule of values, and a summary of allowances.

9. How will they protect your home?

Home protection varies depending on whether you are living in the home during the construction and keeping belongings in the home vs. if you are completely moved out during the renovation because the whole home becomes a work zone at that time. In general, the firm should be using Ram-board floor protection for hard surfaces, and protection tape for carpeted floors. The carpenters should leave your home in a broom clean state at the end of every work day. The firm should also provide a lock box to ensure the home is secured at the end of each work day.

10. Do they offer any warranty to their work?

It is important to understand what is covered under warranty and for how long. Be sure to collect warranty information on manufactured items such as appliances, cabinets, windows, etc.

These ten questions should make you more comfortable and confident when choosing a design build firm. Thanks for reading! Leave a comment down below if you have any questions for us.

Finesse Design Remodeling is an award-winning full-service design-build firm specializing in fine renovations and restorations in the Washington DC Area.

Finesse Design Remodeling is a Grand Award Winning Design-Build Firm in Washington, DC

Finesse Wins NARI Grand Award for Historic Renovations 

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Metro DC Chapter named Finesse Design Remodeling, in Washington DC, a 2019 Capital CotY TM winner in the Historic Renovations category of its annual awards competition at their “Evening of Excellence” held on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at the Westwood Country Club, in Vienna, VA.

Contractors from the Metro DC area vie for CotY Awards each year. Judging is carried out by a panel of impartial industry experts and is based on problem solving, functionality, aesthetics, craftsmanship, innovation, and degree of difficulty.

About Finesse

Finesse Design Remodeling is an award winning, full service design-build firm with over 50 years of combined experience, owned and operated by Elizabeth Mitchel and Brian Bielski. Finesse specializes in fine renovations and restorations in the Washington DC area, providing personalized service, creative designs, expert craftsmanship and meticulous construction. Finesse is dedicated to providing an outstanding remodeling experience while creating distinctive spaces that are tailored to each client.

The Home

A beautiful 16th St. Heights home underwent major bathroom renovations in the 1980s that digressed from the historic character of the home. Layers of tile and several leaks in the bathrooms caused structural wooden support beams and studs to deteriorate. This deterioration led to sagging in the floor system as the support beams and studs are vital to the structural integrity of the floor.

Guest Bath Before

Master Bath Before

The clients wanted to create two new bathrooms that aligned with the historic nature of the home. The guest and master bathroom were completely gutted, and re-laid out with significant attention focused on the underlying structural issues.

The following steps were taken to achieve our goals:

  • Existing boiler (no longer in use), and plumbing piping (galvanized) was completely removed from the floor system.
  • The rotted 2×10 header and roof supporting wall that separated the hallway from the bathrooms was completely replaced from below.
  • The old improperly installed sister joists were removed.
  • New floor joists were installed throughout the entire section of the house where the two bathrooms were to be re-laid out and renovated.
  • New sub flooring and 2×4 wall framing was installed.


The bathroom finishes are custom made to evoke the classic upscale 1920’s hotel style with the Honed Carrara marble and Nero Basketweave tile.

Guest Bath After

Master Bath After

Both bathroom vanities are made with custom drip edge marble and Rohl Wellsford faucets. The custom linen towers were built and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Violet Mist color and finished with Jeffery Alexander’s Lexa pulls. Additionally, the client provided a steel enamel tub which was designed to be used as a separate tub or a drop in application. Because the tub was not designed to be under mounted, the structure for the Stately Carrara marble soaking tub was created on site and a Rohl Palladian tub filler was installed.

Each year NARI Metro DC presents Capital CotY awards to members who have demonstrated outstanding work through their remodeling projects. The entries of this year’s competition totaled more than $26 million worth of remodeling projects. NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. To be considered for a Capital CotY Award, a company must be a NARI member in good standing.

Finesse Design Remodeling became an active member of NARI in 2014 and has been nominated for the Grand Level Contractor of the Year Award several times since joining.

Finesse Design Remodeling is an award-winning full-service design-build firm specializing in fine renovations and restorations in the Washington DC Area.

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