The Architect-Led Design-Build Experience: For the Discerning Client
By Antonio Alonso
2 min read
When building your new home there’s always a set sequence of steps between designing it, the actual creation process and then building it, the construction process. One method of managing this process is called an Architect-Led Design-Build, and it has several advantages worth considering.
But first it’s worth understanding the different types of ways that new homes are designed and built.
Let’s start with the “off the shelf” cookie cutter home that has been built over and over. These mass builders produce and sell the same design, the same floorplan, to hundreds (thousands…) of customers. They are built quickly and can be compared to a mass production line of the same car (just different colors!)
The other approach is to hire an architect to create the design of the home, its drawings and specifications. The client will then appoint their chosen builder to complete the construction of the home. Throughout the construction phase, the architect and builder will hopefully cooperate, but often argue, to get their part of the job done. The builder wants to finish and move on to the next project and the architect wants to make sure their design is built to specifications without shortcuts being taken. And during this scenario it is the homeowner who suffers through the drama.
Then there are Design-Build firms that are construction companies with in-house architects, but they are not led by the architect.
The ideal model, for the discerning client, is the architect-led design-build firm. When designing and building a one-of-a-kind, custom home, created and built to the specifications of ONE client, the need for an Architect-Led Design-Build model is essential for things to be done right and where the integrity of design never comes 2nd.
Often with the other types of firms, the architect comes up with the plans that the owner then approves, and then those plans are handed to a building contractor who takes charge of the project. The architect’s section of work is done at this point, and any compromises during the building process will have to be solved by the owner and the building contractor. This often means making compromises that, without the input of the architect who has the expertise to design solutions that fit with the original plans, often results in a structure that isn’t much like the original vision at all.
In an architect-led design-build firm, your architect remains at the head of the project until its completion. This means that all changes run through the architect/owner so that the best possible result can still be achieved. This puts far less pressure on the client to make lasting decisions without having the necessary expertise to rely on. With greater control from someone who has a clear understanding of the building process, engineering and architectural design, the integrity of the resulting structure is maintained. The level of communication and collaboration between the different team members in an architect-led design-build firm is a major part of why this model is the most seamless of all. The level of communication and collaboration amongst the experts in the architect-led design-build firm can help to avoid misunderstandings and errors down the line, making for a smoother construction process overall. They are all on the same team and their goals are aligned – delivering the client the custom home of their dreams.