Your project goes smoother when the architect and builder know each other. Go for collaboration, not competition. But be sure to hire your builder first. Here’s Why.
uilders Are Much More Aware of the Cost of…
…Everything than Architects
I’ve been in meetings where the architect has gone ‘wild’ with design, showing off or proving their artistic worth with the homeowner. Often the owner – caught up in the ‘coolness’ of the design – isn’t aware of the implications to the budget. If a builder isn’t attending or hasn’t been hired, there’s no one protecting the homeowner’s interest. ‘How much will this cost?’ is the most common question that I get asked. It’s way easier to have the hard stop parameters of a tight budget than to go big and be devastated with the money spent in the end. Everyone has a budget no matter how big or small! A good contractor can help you stick to yours.
rchitects Love Design – They Will Over-Design Your Home
Secretly, they wish to be pure in their design efforts, and make your home their incredible Mona Lisa, a vehicle for their own self-expression. Architects flaunt their projects to their colleagues like trophies. I get it – they went to years of school, and a pure design is all-important to their optimum craft. Beware. It’s an ego thing. I have witnessed an architect sneakily switch a homeowner’s plans to a design the homeowner never intended. This happens all the time.
I’ve also been in meetings where the architect has gone ‘wild’ with design, showing off or proving their artistic worth with the homeowner. Often the owner – caught up in the ‘coolness’ of the design – isn’t aware of the implications to the budget.
If a builder isn’t attending or hasn’t been hired, there’s no one protecting the homeowner’s interest.
‘How much will this cost?’ is the most common question that I get asked. It’s way easier to have the hard stop parameters of a tight budget than to go big and be devastated with the money spent in the end. Everyone has a budget no matter how big or small! A good contractor can help you stick to yours.
he Bait-and-Switch Approach
Some architects will try to use an old, overused design instead of listening to the client. For example, if the owner says, “I want a huge island in the kitchen”, the architect may draw a small kitchen island because they have many plans in their drawers that can be reused. The architect will say most women liked this recycled design, but this shows he hadn’t listened to this owner at all. When a client brings in all of her ideas in photos for the architect to look at, architects naturally want to please the homeowner. Bait and switch is a passive aggressive approach to pay lip service without delivering. “Yes, Yes, yes here you go Ms. Owner” he will say, yet the end result has nothing resembling her vision at all. A keen builder will catch this and confront an architect, whereas the owner often is intimidated and doesn’t get heard.
“Contractors – if good – will attend architectural meetings and contribute value and cost variables so the budget stays intact.”
rchitects Aren’t Aware of the Trade Secrets of Builders
There is a dance between architect and builder. When you engage an architect the focus is design, yet a builders can adjust the design in cooperation with the architect. The end result is something that works better for the actual framing or the foundation or roof. Here’s an example:
When framing, the beam ( a horizontal wood element) needs to carry a structural load tied into a top plate (term for top of the wall). Often this beam sticks out above the roofline. This is a common oversight by the architect and structural engineer. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen this.
In these cases the beam was ordered as a manufactured paralam (not so pretty, but very strong and expensive) and now you have to make an adjustment in the field (on sight) to use it as an exposed beam instead. Real wood cut directly from the tree is very beautiful; not so much a manufactured beam.
Sometimes this leads to a debate or even an argument as to whose fault it was that this was overlooked. A builder can prevent this during the design stage. This is where a good relationship with the architect is crucial. And guess what? The owner never stresses when the adjustment has been communicated smoothly.
Another common example is when the architect calls out (itemized on the blueprint) a unique size of window, not knowing this window is a ‘special order’ size. This will cost the homeowner hundreds. A good relationship with a builder who knows window manufacturers common sizes can help the architect value-engineer and still get the desired look.
ometimes an Architect Will Draw a Floor Plan…
…Without Considering the Difficulty.
When an architect draws a floor plan there is an artistic element that they embrace which doesn’t account for the difficulty of the project. For instance, round walls are expensive elements in a home. They create a lot of lumber waste and extra time is charged for the special carpenter that’s needed.
Another item that many homeowners love are decks. Being selective about how many and where they are placed is key. A builder can see this on paper before lumber and other pricey materials are ordered.
n Experienced Contractor Will Be Aware of a Lot’s ‘View Corridor’
Architects often miss a crucial element, the “view corridor”. As soon as you come in the front door there needs to be a big, amazing view, something extraordinary to look at. This “wow factor” is the most optimal piece in building a home; the view corridor is why people purchase a lot or piece of property. I know this sounds obvious, but many architects miss this because they make a plan on paper instead of going to the property and walking it to see how the home should be oriented.
“Collaboration is critical between the architect, builder, and homeowner.”
xperienced Contractors Can Recommend the Right Architect for the Job
Over the years the contractor develops relationships with many architects and can select one, making this process much better for the homeowner, who is now positioned to take advantage of both the builder and the architect’s skillsets, saving time and money for all.
Be careful; your architect may not be recommending the builder that is best for you. Architects always refer to the same old ‘shortlist’ of builders, a good ‘ole boys’ club. You will be spending a lot more time with your builder than your architect; the contractor is much more invested, available, and intimately familiar with the nuances of what you need than the architect. Hire your contractor first and the entire build will be much more rewarding and go smoother, with less stress and more profit that goes directly to you, the homeowner or investor.
s a Homeowner You Need a Champion in Your Corner to Protect Your Voice
So many homeowners I’ve built for over the years have commented that they appreciated the oversight and care that was exhibited on their behalf. The new age of construction and remodeling should go beyond hammers and nails and embrace the stormy process for the owners. It’s so stressful unless you have someone in your corner!
ood Contractors Attend Architectural Meetings…
…and Keep the Budget Intact.
This is the sign that your contractor cares about your end result. It’s amazing when you think about how much effort and time is expelled in the planning of a build. Why not hire someone that cares about your finished home and family instead of just another customer for their bottom-line revenue?
Hiring your builder first is an important and critical component of a successful remodel or build.
This ensures cost effectiveness in design and practicality with views.
This also allows you to weigh out the difficulty with the expense of it. You as
the homeowner want the ‘most bang for the buck’. The builder, when hired first, will enable that to happen more efficiently.
Collaboration is critical between architect/builder and homeowner. Your project goes smoother when the architect and builder know each other.
A builder will help focus the architect, getting the best result in the shortest amount of time. Time and money is saved when they work together in collaboration versus competition.
When you – the homeowner – are happy, with an amazing and life-changing home that inspires you, I’m happy too. I love what I do and want the best for my homeowners.