Structuring a Small Renovation Job

Updated: Feb 2

The project seems simple enough: apply a cool coat of fresh paint; install textured tiles around the bathtub; replace dated fixtures and towel bars so they finally match. They are simple renovation goals where any homeowner might expect equally simple processes to execute the project. But as often the case, things are not so simple, and idiosyncrasies of the industry can surprise many first-time renovators.

Unless you are planning for a DIY (do-it-yourself) renovation, you will likely hire professionals to design and build your project. They likely subscribe to one of two common project delivery processes: "Design-Bid-Build" or "Design-Build". Understanding your own priorities and preferred level of control over the process and outcome will help you decide the right project delivery process for your project.

Let's briefly compare the pros and cons of each.


Also known as the traditional project delivery method, "Design-Bid-Build" aptly spells out the essential steps in the process. You start by planning your design, and documenting your choices and intentions so they can be sent to multiple contractors for bids. After comparing contractor qualifications and cost estimates included in the bids, you contract with one contractor to build the project per your design.

Pros: Control over the outcome and budget. The process provides a methodical approach by taking the requisite time to consider what you want for your project, who you want to build your project, and how you want to allocate your budget.

Cons: Planning takes time and effort. Researching products, gathering samples, and picking fixtures takes dedication in time and energy. Hiring an architect or interior designer can help greatly, but likely costly.


Billed as an alternative to the traditional Design-Bid-Build process, "Design-Build" reduces design and construction responsibilities to a single contractor. You solicit bids to design and build a complete project based on your preliminary criteria, thereby removing yourself from active project management after signing with the contractor.

Pros: Simplicity and accountability. Just pay the invoices on time and the contractor should take care of everything, including the procurement of materials and the assurance of compatibility for all fixtures and parts.

Cons: Lack of transparency and control. Because the contractor designs and builds the project within the agreed bid price, the contractor is motivated to keep costs low - potentially at the expense of quality. With no design preview, you relinquish control over the final product and outcome.

Our Perspective

We feel that control over your project outcome is a critical factor in any successful renovation. While you may have limited control over a contractor's workmanship, you can and should leverage control over what products are installed and over which contractor performs the work.

At Room by Color, we believe that a modified design-bid-build process can offer such simplicity and flexibility by having contractors bid on the installation of a packaged design solution. A packaged design solution can potentially substitute hiring a designer to provide you quality product ensembles and designs at lower cost. It also streamlines the bid comparisons to focus on costs of base material and installation labor, thereby allowing for more competitive bids from more qualified contractors.

Pursuing the right process can set you on a smoother path toward achieving your desired outcome, on budget, and without undergoing unnecessary stress. Check out our other posts for thoughts on Factors Influencing Renovation Costs and Identifying Risks in Renovations.

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