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The New Way to Remodel: Architect Approach vs Design/Build

Posted by Mark Paskell on Sat, Nov 04, 2006 @ 05:06 PM

You are a homeowner who wants to remodel your home to accommadate your growing family. You need more space for the baby toys overtaking your house. Your kitchen is too small to store all your stuff and entertaining more than 4 people is a major undertaking. Your kids take over the bathroom for hours and your late for work more than usual. Your builder grade deck is so small the patio furniture takes up the whole thing.

So now you see some remodel show on HGTV or an episode of This Old House and you come to the conclusion you need to improve your home. You want a larger more functional space to handle your family’s growing needs. So where do you start?

The Old Way: The Architect Approach
The old way to remodel was to hire an architect or designer to discuss your needs and come up with the concepts to meet them. Then they would draw your solutions and develop a scope of work resulting in a set of plans and specifications. Then you, the homeowner, would seek out contractors to price the plans and specifications. Often, the contractor pricing is over the budget set aside for the project. You question the contractor that his price is to high. The contractor asks did you tell the architect to design within a budget? The architect says I just drew what you wanted. Now you have plans that cost thousands of dollars and you can’t afford to build the project. So you don’t want to lose your investment and you look for more contractors until you find one who is closer to your budget and you hire him. You know in your gut that the higher priced guy was more professional but you succumb to the pressure of not losing your investment and you hope the lower priced guy will perform good enough. So you either hire the low price guy and pray or you throw away the plans and thousands of dollars.
This old process, still used by some today, often leads to finger pointing between the architect and the contractor. When proposed plans are put together without the constraints of the available budget it always leads to disputes between the designer and the contractor. You, the homeowne,r become the mediator and the guy in the middle who can’t win. In addition, the contractor has questions on the plans and aks for clarification from the architect and when an impasse develops, you become the facilitator.

The design/build process joins the world of architecture and construction under one roof. This insures that one firm will be responsible for all facets of the project from concept to completion. A professional remodeling firm who has adopted this process knows that all projects must be designed to meet both the needs and budget of the client. The project must be designed to acceptable standards consistent with industry standards and current trends and styles that consumers are expecting. Also, the design must be consistent with the architecture of the existing home. A great remodel is one that looks like it was always there.

Remodeling projects require serious planning and many overlapping decisions between the designer and the contractor. There are so many choices in today’s world due to the availabilty of information on the internet and tv. The Design/Build process provides SINGLE SOURCE ACCOUNTIBILITY and insures that all aspects of architecture and construction are reviewed under one roof.

This process removes the homeowner as mediator or facilitator. A design/build firm must design within the budget parameters or they will never be allowed to build the project or receive referrals from you. The process is seamless and insures smooth transition from design to construction. The carpenter who works for the design/build firm will be familiar with the design because he works for the same company. There is no finger pointing. Experts familiar with the remodeling industry estimate that over 70% of all projects designed in America never get built! If you don’t want to be stuck with expensive architecture plans that never get built, you should find a contractor that follows the design/build process.

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