Designer Spotlight: Design Builders, Inc.

Design Builders, Inc. is a residential design build company committed to designing and constructing high-end outdoor living spaces in the Washington, D.C. metro area. They’ve installed over 300 deck, screen porch, sunroom and addition projects, integrating products such as Infratech heaters into their beautiful outdoor spaces. Knowing their personal, client-focused approach to design, we were eager to speak with founder and president James Moylan to learn about the ways they work with customers to find the best personalized solutions for specific outdoor projects and lifestyles.



“Infratech heaters are by far the best option for heat in the outdoor space.They cover more area and are much more effective […] It’s like magic.”

What trends have you noticed in outdoor room design?

Essentially our clients want all the luxuries of indoor living outside. Decking options have evolved; patio and stone options have evolved. There are many more choices available now for customers on all finishes—from flooring and trim, to lighting and electrical. Outdoor kitchens now feature low maintenance cabinetry in place of the archaic stone or brick outdoor kitchen set up. Customers want to be able to eat, relax, watch TV, and comfortably spend time with friends and family in their outdoor space.

What inspires you when creating a custom space for your clients?

I’m inspired by the enjoyment our customers are going to get by using the space. I think about their friends and families coming over to visit and being awestruck by the beautiful outdoor space that has all the amenities of indoor living. It’s neat to think that our customers’ birthdays, holidays, graduations and family events will take place in a space that we designed. We like to push the envelope and really make an outdoor space a true living and entertaining area.

How do your customers’ outdoor lifestyles influence your designs?

That’s the key. The spaces are designed around their lifestyles. If our customers have huge Thanksgiving get-togethers or other events in early spring and late fall we need to incorporate heating elements like Infratech heaters for them to be able to enjoy their space. If the customers are diehard cooks, we need to develop a top notch outdoor kitchen area that matches their cooking styles. If the client is a sports fanatic then we need to create a space for them to be able to watch their favorite sporting events. We’ve designed entire rooms around people’s Sunday football get-togethers. Family size and age is important as well. We will design spaces for families with young kids much differently than we would for empty nester couples who are just about to retire. How the customer is going to use the space on a daily basis and on those two to three special days of the year is ultimately our muse for the design.

How do you design your spaces to accommodate seasonal transitions?

In the DC area this is a huge consideration. There isn’t much we can do about January and February but the bookends of the season can be extended by installing infrared heaters and outdoor fireplaces. Gas fireplaces and natural burning fireplaces are a nice touch and make the rooms usable. But to cover the entire space you need an infrared heating system. We can also keep the elements out by installing retractable wall systems. Phantom Screens now has a vinyl window product that works just like their fiberglass retractable screen systems. The vinyl windows can keep the wind and rain out of the space, making the area much more usable in the cold winter months. A combination of retractable screens or windows with heater elements can help extend the use of the space.

How do you choose outdoor heating for the spaces you design?  

With outdoor heating you have a few options. Gas fireplace, bioethanol fireplace, wood burning fireplace, or infrared heaters. Ultimately a combination is best, both for aesthetics and for comfort.

When and why do you use Infratech heaters?

When a customer has special events on a yearly basis in the fall or early spring and want overflow entertaining to spill into the outdoor space, Infratech heaters are a must. Infratech heaters are by far the best option for heat in the outdoor space.  They cover more area and are much more effective. All other heating options heat the air, but it’s a futile battle when dealing with outdoor spaces because you can’t trap the warm air. Infratech heaters actually heat the items the infrared rays touch.  It’s like magic. Once a customer has seen the heaters in action they see them as an important piece of their project.

Where do you see outdoor design headed?

Outdoor design is becoming a ‘must.’ It’s no longer an extra. The outdoor space is now incorporated into the home. The best designed outdoor spaces connect the interior of the house with the exterior seamlessly. The doors and windows that connect the outdoor spaces to the home are the key. Large openings, sometimes entire walls, that access the outdoors really bring everything together.