What To Look For In a Residential Design & Build Firm

What to Look for in a Residential Design-Build Firm: Pt 2

Looking for a design-build firm for your home remodeling project? There are many design-build companies in the Washington, DC metropolitan area—so how do you know which one to pick? Looking out for certain credentials can help tremendously.

In part 1 of this blog series, I discussed the following credentials:

  • Contractor license
  • Architecture license
  • EPA certification for lead paint renovation
  • Insurance

However, there are other necessary credentials to check for, including:

Professional Association Membership (AIA, NARI, NKBA & ASID)

If the owners of the company you plan to hire are members of professional associations, it’s a good indication of their commitment to their profession. Most associations offer educational opportunities to help their members learn more and expand their skill base.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has over 83,000 members nationally, and it requires members to obtain 18 learning units each year to remain a member. The National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) has local chapters that promote education, networking between members, and ethics. Their annual Contractor of the Year awards competition (COTY) promotes excellence locally and nationally. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) also promotes education and professional development.

Design & Remodeling Experience

Once you have confirmed the basic credentials (licenses, insurance, etc.), you can start to examine the firm’s design and remodeling experience. Are they good designers? Do you have rapport with the design team? Will their designs provide good value for a realistic budget?  Study their portfolio and speak with past clients. Is their construction team skilled with remodeling (remodeling is more complicated than new construction)? Are the carpenters skilled and attentive to their craftsmanship? Do they plan ahead and schedule the work? Be sure to visit a job site or speak with their references.


References are important. Typically three are provided so that you can call and speak with past clients of the firm. If it is not too much trouble, you might ask the firm if you can visit a remodeling job site they are currently working at.

Additional Tip

Remember that being an involved client will help you get a good remodeling project from the firm you select. Review your project drawings thoroughly to know what is included and what is not. Respect the integrity of your written contract and architectural plans. Both the remodeling firm and client should be on time to meetings and make payments as agreed. If you are happy with the work, refer your friends and colleagues to the remodeling firm.

Feel free to view our photo gallery and get in touch with the Wentworth team today. See why so many families in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia have selected us as their residential design-build firm—we’ve created many award-winning homes!

About Bruce Wentworth

Wentworth was founded by Bruce Wentworth, AIA, a noted remodeling architect who has worked in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area for over twenty years. He has built hundreds of his own designs, ranging from modest bungalows to large-scale luxury residences.

Read the rest of Bruce’s bio.

“ I was happy to learn (but not surprised) that your studio has earned three top awards in the Contractor of the Year competition. I just love your work for its effective unselfconscious beauty! I’ve just filled out the form to receive your e-book and am looking forward to viewing it. ”

David M.