Builder/Remodeler or Architect… Which Comes First?

Builder/Remodeler or ArchitectIf you are planning to build a new home or do a major remodel, there is a natural question that should come up. Whom do I call first? A builder/remodeler or an architect (or designer)?

In 28 years of building and remodeling, I have seen many, many sad faces of clients who had a plan drawn for a new home or major renovation, only to be disappointed that the costs to build were out of their budget. Far too many! But my answer is not as clear-cut as you might expect.

Both parties bring valuable information and significant experience to the table, so calling only one or the other is not always the best answer. A team approach can be a great option to ensure that you are getting the most accurate information possible and having a plan drawn that meets your budget criteria and your needs for the space.

It gives you the opportunity to collect a lot of information and ideas and put the best of them into play, while maintaining cost control well before the project starts, where it is most important. This allows for conversations about construction methods, mechanical systems and finishes — and their levels of priority. These decisions can firmly made with the budget always in the forefront and not an afterthought.

It’s much like buying a home: You would never make an offer on a house not knowing if you could afford it, if you needed a loan and for how much. So much in the way you get prequalified for a home purchase, it is important to prequalify what your potential costs will be for your project. Many builders and remodelers offer in-house design, so be sure to ask about that option as well.

While many architects and designers are well versed in building costs, not all are, and this is a crucial area to explore. In talking about ballpark ranges of costs to build with both architects/designers and builder/remodelers, take note of any variances you may hear and fully investigate why they feel the costs are warranted.

Get suggestions from friends and co-workers, and investigate folks you have heard about over the years. Set up some meetings to get to know people and get a feel for them and how they do business, and proceed from there, checking references and talking to past and current clients before committing.

This additional step should help prevent you from spending a lot of money and effort to plan something out that you can’t accommodate financially.