Six years ago, Peter Pagenstecher (second from right) was running a successful construction company and Dean Brenneman (second from left) was running a successful architecture firm. The two had worked on several projects together, and the projects went well enough that they decided to team up to form a design/build firm. They now handle 30 jobs per year, of which three or four are large, $500,000 whole-house projects.

One of their first steps was to commit to doing all their design work on a CAD system. "It's a powerful tool. We're developing a database of building details. It allows us to develop drawings faster than drawing them from scratch," Brenneman says.

One of the biggest benefits the pair has found with design/build is that the design process doesn't stop when drawings are handed to production. That's also one of the reasons the partners do not bid on jobs. "Our process is interactive. If they are strictly looking for price, we are not the cheapest," Brenneman says.