When building a custom home or home addition, the decision of who to hire first – an architect or a building contractor – can be one of the hardest the homeowner makes. The answer to that question is not always obvious. Here’s an overview of what architects and building contractors do and how they complement each other.
Architects help showcase options that can continue to serve your family’s lifestyle needs far into the future. They create designs that effectively create mood, match styles and colors, use views and lighting, maximize interior spaces, and plan for traffic flow, among other focus areas.
After talking with the client to explore their wants and needs, lifestyle, and goals, the architect analyzes site conditions, elevations, floorplan orientation, and other factors before developing design concept drawings for approval. Once the design is agreed on, the architect creates finished plans for the building contractor to use in constructing a structurally sound home that meets zoning requirements and fits within your budget.
The building contractor’s job is to construct your custom home as designed, using the provided plans and code-approved techniques and methods. They order materials and supplies, undertake site preparation, hook up utility lines, construct the foundation, and build the home. In the process, they hire and manage any needed subcontractors, address deed restrictions, and arrange for building inspections. Design-build contractors like Prospect 30 Eight Construction both create the plans and construct your custom home.
Building contractors provide the workmanship needed to bring your custom home design to life. They have the technical expertise to offer design alternatives to save time and cost. As the building progresses, they are responsible for keeping you in the loop, updating you on project status, and notifying you of decisions that need to be made.
All things being equal, the architect should be hired first, as they are developing the plans that the building contractor will use to construct your custom home. However, if you have firm budget restrictions, you may want to hire the contractor first. Here’s why.
Architects should be able to control project costs by creating designs that account for building codes, materials costs, product innovations, etc. However, many do not have a good grasp of construction costs. This is especially true right now with the dramatic increases in materials costs resulting largely from pandemic-related problems in the supply chain. We have worked with a number of homeowners, for example, who wound up wasting a five-figure investment in architect-prepared plans because every construction bid came back well above their maximum budget.
If your budget has rigid restrictions, an experienced contractor should be hired first to eliminate any guesswork from the process. A separate architect may not even be needed if the contractor has design-build capability. Still, if it’s determined that an architect should be brought into the project, the contractor can recommend one they know and trust.
For over 20 years, the people of Prospect 30 Eight Construction have been dedicated to quality, precision, and serving our clients throughout the Denver Metro Area and Jefferson County. It’s kept us thriving, who we are, and who we’ll continue to be for decades to come.