Many stories exist about contentious relationships between architects & builders. As stories, they can be extreme and would lead you to believe that all architects & builders behave in this manner or that if you work with one or the other you will end up in a contentious relationship. This story is about how to avoid such contention. Your project should benefit from working with both an architect & builder. There are many capable professionals that can assist you in the process. We are not suggesting that all disagreements will be eliminated during the design and construction process, but utilizing this common sense approach will get you through the process and you might have some fun along the way.
1. Select a Builder in a similar manner that you select an Architect.
Be methodical and ask questions. It is an equally important selection and it will have a direct impact on your project and the process.
There is no right or wrong time to select a builder. Some of our projects come to us with a builder and we utilize the builder’s input during the process to help our Clients with their decision making. This approach is especially helpful with projects on tight construction budgets. In other projects, the builder is selected after the final design drawings are complete. This approach allows you to interview builders and request estimates at the same time while knowing that everyone is including the same information in their cost estimate.
2. Communicate your goals clearly.
Whether you are speaking with your architect or your builder; be clear about what you are trying to achieve with your building project. It is not reasonable to expect that a building project will heal a marriage, friendship, or company; it won’t. It is reasonable to expect that a building project will provide you with the additional office/living space that you need when you tell your architect and your builder that you have outgrown your space.
3. Keep your goals and your construction budget in line.
It is important to remember that having ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’ may lead to disappointment and contention. Be realistic about your goals and your construction budget. This Budget Worksheet is a good start and your architect or builder can help you complete it in advance.
4. Be prepared to make decisions.
Almost always, there is more than one way to achieve your goal. When presented with a variety of options, ask questions. If you need more information to make a decision, ask for it. If you need more time to think about the options that have been presented, take it. However, be sure to communicate that you need some time to decide which option you prefer. Open communication and timely decisions expedite the design and construction process.
This process and your project may require a lot of your time, effort and resources, but properly managed it can result in a successful working relationship with an architect & a builder.