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  • Writer's pictureEmily Renze

Working with Specialty Trades for Collaborative Design Projects

Embarking on a home design-build project is an exciting journey, but it can also be overwhelming. There are numerous aspects to consider during every stage of the process, from the development of an initial design concept to the management and logistics of construction and installation. If you have never taken on a design project before, or you’re short on time, it can be extremely helpful to have support from someone who is familiar with the complexities of the process. We’re talking about someone who can be trusted to oversee the entire project, including design development, purchasing, and working with specialty trades and contractors. 

We have found that we achieve the best results when we collaborate with specialty trades, instead of trying to do everything in-house. It's about trusting those who consider themselves experts at one particular thing. You've heard the saying "Jack of all trades, master of none..." Keep reading to learn what to expect when working with specialty trades and contractors on a collaborative design project.

Working with specialty trades


Common Specialty Trades 

From the foundational craftsmanship of carpentry to the critical role of electrical work and plumbing, home improvement encompasses many essential trades, all of which contribute to shaping the structure, aesthetics, and functionality of a living space. We certainly couldn't do what we do without our valued trade partners. Here are some of the most common specialty trades that are involved in design-build projects:

Framing and Site Work

This is where it all begins - at least, when doing an addition or new build. When things are properly framed, it sets the stage for all of the other trades - especially drywall installers and finish carpenters - to achieve better results. Our General Contractor and Principal Builder, Travis, has a background in framing and concrete, so we often perform this in-house for smaller remodel jobs. On additions and/or new builds, we have a trusted trade partner with the manpower to help us stay on a reasonable schedule.

Electrical Work + Home Automation

In today's modern homes, electrical work means much more than having a light with a switch in the room. Electricity is needed for most tasks that take place in the home (even some toilets require it now). Before the electrical contractor gets to work, we develop a proper and detailed electrical plan, so that the electrician can price the job accurately and execute to a specific design intent. Our Principal Designer, Emily, has a strong background in lighting design. She is very particular about placement and lighting specifications. You will NEVER see a 6" can light in one of her projects.

We also stay up-to-date with new products on the market that can save energy and create a more functional space. Beyond simply installing wiring and light fixtures, electricians ensure that your electrical systems are safe, efficient, and in compliance with local codes. 

In some cases, we work with low voltage electricians, also referred to as home automation specialists. They are experts in making sure that your home is tech savvy. For example, they can help if you want everything to be controlled from an iPad or your phone. Your window treatments, lighting, sound systems, and TV are just a few of the most common things we will integrate into a whole home automation system.


Like electrical work, plumbing systems are a lifeline in modern homes. Plumbers handle everything from installing pipes and fixtures to repairing leaks, ensuring that your home's water and sewage systems operate smoothly and reliably. In some cases, they also handle natural gas work, like water heaters, appliances, and running gas lines to fireplaces. If they don't do it, our HVAC trade partner will.

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)

HVAC is another essential trade - especially here in Iowa :) HVAC contractors ensure that you can live comfortably in your home with proper temperature control and air circulation. On larger projects, Emily works with the HVAC contractor to ensure that the floor plan allows enough space for the necessary mechanical ducts. Placement of vents also needs to be considered when designing the finish details, such as crown molding and base boards. If budget allows, it's always nice to upgrade your vents from the standard white metal.

Finish Carpentry and Cabinetry

Cabinetry is one of the most important elements to help define the style of your home. Whether its modern full overlay or traditional face frame inset cabinets, we work in all different styles and have companies that cater to those different styles. Of course, it all starts with a detailed design and plans, which we create to our clients' specific needs and taste.

Finish carpentry includes things like interior door installation, baseboards, casing, and crown moldings. These are the details that will elevate your home. In more traditional homes, we love incorporating wall paneling. Travis' meticulous attention to detail allows him to excel in finish carpentry work, which is why we often perform this in-house. Sometimes, we also work in collaboration with a specialty trade, such as a cabinet maker or an artisan who specializes in metal fabrication.

Working with specialty trades: carpentry

Painting + Wallcovering Installation

Working with specialty trades: painting

Painting is so much more than just applying color to walls. It involves the careful selection of hues and finishes and expert techniques to create the desired atmosphere and visual impact in your home. We might emphasize the brush strokes to make trim work look historic, use limewash paint to create the luxurious look of plaster, or paint mural art to create a one-of-a-kind space.

In addition to painting, we love designing with wallcoverings. With so many options out there, you can be bold or subtle, or create texture. We would be happy to help you design a unique space and let our trusted trade partners bring it to life.

Finish Material Installation

As one of the most visually prominent aspects of interior design, finish materials set the tone for the overall feel of a space. Whether you prefer wood flooring, stone, or something else, each material requires special skill to install it properly. Each type of finish offers its own unique blend of aesthetics, durability, and maintenance requirements, too. We typically work with wood flooring contractors, tile and stone installers, plaster craftsmen, and stone slab fabricators. All of these partners are crucial to executing the design as intended. Like all of the other trades, we provide very detailed specifications in the plans that we create, so that they understand the very critical detailing associated with the design. It's essential that they know exactly what they are installing!

Working with specialty trades: flooring


The Hiring Process

At B Street Design, we take pride in managing the hiring and vetting process of specialty trades and subcontractors. Our commitment to full-service project management alleviates the time-consuming and stressful aspect of hiring for our clients, allowing them to put all of their energy into a creative vision for their home. 

We recognize that residential design-build projects require a deep level of trust between the client and all parties involved. After all, our clients’ homes are their most precious sanctuaries. 

With more than 16 years of industry experience behind us, our team has had the opportunity to build valuable relationships with contractors, vendors, and specialty trades across the board. We would be happy to provide you with referrals from our network of trusted professionals. Whether it's carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, or flooring installers, we will ensure that only the most reliable professionals are involved in your project.


Collaborative design projects

Interfacing with Current Contractors

For the most seamless experience, we encourage clients to utilize our complete design and build experience from start to finish. However, we understand that some clients may already have an architect, builder, or general contractor in mind when they reach out to us. With that being said, we are flexible and open to collaborating with contractors and specialty trades outside of our network. Our primary intention is to make sure that your project is executed efficiently and according to your preferences, so we have become adept at working with other professionals to achieve this common goal.

We aim to simplify and enhance your home design-build experience, so that you can realize your dream home with ease. Whether you're starting from scratch or you already have a team in place, we're here to support you every step of the way. Reach out to us today to learn more and begin your journey towards a beautifully crafted home.

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