The Top 5 Reasons To Use A Design-Build On Your Next Common Area Renovation

by | Jan 7, 2020 | Uncategorized

When thinking of a large interior common element projects, it is easy to become focused on the finished product. This is especially true if you are working with a designer and they’ve provided renderings and you can’t wait to see them come to life.

However, the real measurement of a successful project relies heavily on planning at the board level before anything gets designed.  Specifically the planning that goes into choosing the right contractor to deliver your project. 

Keep in mind that it is the contractor who is going to actually carry out the work so it is important to do your research. 

According to a survey by Leger, most people (55%) do not trust renovation contractors, with 1% of women and 0% of men saying that they are very confident in renovation contractors.

It’s not hard to see why though, as 79% of Torontonians who have had renovations costing over $20,000 claim that they experienced major problems during their renovations.

Some of the bad experiences include:

  • Botched work that needed to be redone (83%)
  • Project took much longer than agreed upon (45%)
  • Charged with prohibitive extras (25%)
  • Contractor abandoned the project entirely (14%)

Because of this, it is vitally important to do your due diligence in researching the company you are considering for a large project, especially common element renovations. You can have a beautiful 5-Star design, but without the right execution, the job could go sideways costing thousands of dollars with residents enduring unnecessary frustration when they didn’t have to.

Property managers can be excellent resources for this as they are the ones who meet with contractors, and can get a feel for which contractors are best for a job based on the experiences of some of their peers. These types of renovations also involve a design aspect to them, which typically results in a longer process, as more people are involved and more decisions are to be made.

Below we will address the most common ways to approach these types of projects, as well as list some of their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision when you start planning your next common element renovation.


When it comes to cost, design-build will ultimately give you the best bang for your buck.

In the simplest of terms, the design-build process can be compared to buying a sandwich.

You know what you want and you have a budget so it is like when you go to a Subway restaurant and tell the worker what type of sandwich you want, the toppings, extras, as they build it for you and charge you accordingly.

There are no surprises, and you get to watch exactly what you want unfold before you.

It’s very much the same with a design-build firm that does interior condominium renovation projects.

The firm is hired to design the new common element, as well as carry out all the work (or build) to be done on the project.

There are massive advantages to going about things this way.

The first is that you have much better control of the budget. With a design-builder, you can customize your new common element in such a way that you stay within a given budget, which is often a big concern for most condo corps as you will always want to have some money in the reserve fund in case maintenance issues arise.

With control of the budget, the board can choose where they want to invest the reserve fund money more effectively.

Maybe residents would prefer to invest more money into the floors and lighting, and less on expensive wall coverings.

With this information in mind the design-builder can show boards just the sample options that align with their vision and budget, which keeps things simple and moving more smoothly.


This leads well into the second advantage which is the ability to quickly change aspects of the design based on residents input.

In a common element project, it is important to get ask for input from residents who want to be involved in the process. Now this doesn’t mean you will use everyone’s ideas, but it is good to at least give people an opportunity to shape the look and feel of their new common area. Developing buy-in can help move the process forward keeping everyone happy.

With a custom design-builder, the board is better equipped to integrate residents’ feedback into the proposed design.


The third advantage is the ability to address conflicts between the design and the build. The most ambitious and luxurious designs may not always be the most practical or achievable. Maybe the type of flooring that was chosen would require a massive restructuring of the subfloor in order to prepare it for application, and this extra step would put you way over budget as opposed to a similar look but in a different type of flooring that does not require such an extensive preparation process. Or maybe it is more cost effective in the long run to choose a certain type of wallcovering than it is to prepare and maintain painted walls.

These are things a dedicated design-builder can help you with.


When working with a dedicated design-builder on a custom design concept specific to your building, there is a closer relationship and trust being built.

This translates into time saved, as now the manager does not have to go out to meet, vet, and coordinate multiple contractors to bid a project.

Time is also saved in the design stage because when a budget is established, there won’t be time wasted looking at samples and designs that either don’t work, or exceed the budget. Instead, only the feasible options are presented, and any potential incompatibilities are identified early on in the process – saving time and money down the road.

No Surprises

The last advantage encompasses the others, and that is that there are no surprises.

When working with a design-build firm, it is a partnership. The property manager, board members, and design-builder are all going through the same process from start to finish. All of the designs, revisions, concerns, are addressed as they arise, which means that most if not all problems are solved by the time the project is set to begin.

In addition, the board won’t have to worry about giving the residents something you cannot deliver. The budget and design have all been sorted out during the design process, so you won’t be stuck paying and getting residents’ expectations high for an ambitious design that the corporation cannot afford.

Design-Build Conclusion

Overall, the design-build process is a great strategy to stay on budget while also getting the best value and maintaining expectations. No surprises means you get what you pay for and more control overall. It is good to use when you have a good sense of exactly what needs to be done or changed, and just needs someone to design and build it for you.

The added unique advantage of ArmourCo’s Design and Build Service is that our designer is also the project manager during the build process. Unlike other design-build firms, it is not sub-contracted out. Because of this, quality control is much tighter, communication is more fluid, and you end up with a better experience overall when the designer is the one in charge of building their own creation.