Well…We Get Along with Architects

We came across an interesting article in a recent issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine. In “Why Can’t Architects and Builders Get Along?” authors Paul DeGroot (an architect) and David Wilkes (a builder) discuss the premise that “it often seems that those who design houses and those who build them see each other as players on opposing teams.” We at Carlton Construction would like to give our take on some of the points brought forth in the article.

  • “Architects should find a few builders they trust and build a good relationship with them. Architects know their clients and should help them to select the builder who best fits their personality and who will best deliver on their expectations.” – At Carlton, we have found this to be true. We have developed close ties with a number of architects, who put their own reputations on the line by referring their clients to us. We’ve worked hard to ensure that we don’t let any of them down.
  • “Architects should encourage clients to get their team in place early in the process.” – We too believe it’s important for the construction team to be involved with the client and architect every step of the way, if possible, even from the initial architectural meetings. Together, the builder and architect can educate clients on all viewpoints and issues, engaging them in the entire process.
  • Builders always use the square-footage cost of similar projects to compare estimates versus actuals. Architects should find that number and use it as a guide to set clients’ budgetary expectations.” – The square-footage (SF) pricing method does have its place during preliminary budgets, but it can become a trap at times. We like to use the analogy of two sealed grocery bags of food, one priced at $50 and the other at $75. Which one do you choose? You can’t possibly make a rational decision unless you know exactly what is inside each bag. The same is true when designing a luxury custom home, especially given the personal choices involved. That’s the trap for clients – comparing builders based upon a one-size-fits-all SF cost without fully understanding what goes in the SF “bag.” SF pricing can be used effectively as a rough cost estimate, prior to designing the residence, to align with a client’s intended budget, however we communicate clearly, early on in the process, what may change as plans and specifications become established. This concept of costs and budgets leads to another article point –
  • “Today’s clients want to see bids that are well detailed, and they’re frustrated by bids that are vague or too general.” – At Carlton, we provide a very detailed, comprehensive bid presentation. In testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals, our past clients often refer to our detailed bids and estimates as one of the reasons they select Carlton, regardless of whether our bid was high, low or in the middle. The detailed bid dovetails into clear building plans, specifications, critical dates, and quality and quantity requirements, where we’re able to accurately account for all job costs and payments. With Carlton, change orders are used when there are true, agreed-upon changes in the work, not as cover for a low-ball or non-detailed original bid.
  • “The architect says: Too often, builders cut corners.” – Not at Carlton. Again, in testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals, our clients consistently mention our attention to detail. We hold on-site meetings with the client and subcontractors at major project milestones, and as needed, to ensure that work follows the architect’s plans and specifications and measures up to our commitment to quality.

We take pride in how we team with architects, whether we have worked with them for years or have just met them with a new client. If you are thinking about creating the custom residence of your dreams with an architect and builder or have some thoughts on this article, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’d love to hear from you.

“Why Can’t Architects and Builders Get Along?” by Paul DeGroot and David Wilkes, Fine Homebuilding, copyright 2013 by The Taunton Press, Inc.