Collaborating with an architect is often the name of the game for remodelers working on home improvement projects. Sometimes a client comes to a contractor with architectural plans already done, and in other instances, a designer is brought in to help with the layout of a specific area of a project. Navigating the relationship between contractor and architect can sometimes be a touchy situation, but it does not have to be. Like most relationships, success comes from good communication and teamwork.
Architects and remodelers come to the table with different skill sets. Architects have the reputation and schooling for creative design and often take the time to stay up on current product trends. Remodelers take stock in having the means and the methods needed to get a project done successfully. They rely on years of hands-on experience to troubleshoot projects and often take a practical approach to specifying materials and products used in a remodel. For these two professionals to work together, both parties need to set aside the ego and share control of the project.
The success of a project is contingent upon the tripartite relationship of owner, architect and builder. Each party has a unique role that they must contribute to the project. A remodeler is a skilled craftsman that excels in the art of construction. They are not trained designers or space planners. To expect a remodeler to design a building, places an unnecessary burden upon them that they are not educated to solve.
Conversely, while architects are trained in the design and constructability of a building, they cannot provide a definitive construction budget. At best, they can consult trade publications that may or may not accurately reflect the current costs based upon industry averages. Architects take a holistic view of the entire project. They realize that no part of the project exists in a vacuum and therefore, each and every component of a project affects the others. By the way, most townships and communities in Pennsylvania require construction documents to be prepared by a licensed architect.
In many cases, it makes sense for the architect to oversee the design decisions while the contractor takes charge of how to get the building done. Control should be shared, or passed back and forth, during different stages of a project. If there are differences in opinion, it is best for architects and designers to work out a solution that will best satisfy the client’s needs, not their own.
The essence of the relationship is collaboration. The collaboration of an architectural firm proficient in design excellence and a remodeler that excels in quality construction is the foundation for success. If this is true, then it only seems logical for remodelers and architects to align themselves in strategic partnerships from the beginning when marketing projects.
When remodeling projects are approached from a design-build basis, the architecture and budgeting are developed concurrently. As each phase of the design is completed by the architect, the remodeler is able to inform the owner of the probable cost of the project. This checks and balance keeps all of the team members enlighten without the fear of surprises.
A design-build approach avoids the pitfalls that some homeowners incur when presented with bids from multiple remodelers that are all beyond the anticipated project budget. This occurs when the construction documents are completed without the benefit of accurate cost estimating. After several months of the homeowner becoming intimately attached to the project of their dreams, they are confronted with the reality that it is beyond their budget. Even after the project is redesigned to conform to their budget, the homeowner is left with the regret of what the project could have been. This series of events is a detriment to the homeowner’s time, budget and patience.
Therefore, it appears to be most apparent, that the architect and remodeler need to rely upon the unique skills and expertise of one another to successfully design and construct an award-winning project. The design-build collaboration affords the homeowner several benefits; a project that is distinctively designed; a project cost that fits within their budget; and a project constructed in a beautiful manner.