Blog - Providing Insight into Residential Architecture and Construction

Architect Contractor Homeowner Design Relationship

Architect Contractor Developer Homeowner The degree of interconnection among architects, contractors, developers, and homeowners varies depending upon the structure of the project. Some buildings are design-led in which the architect communicates with the client to translate the vision into construction drawings for the contractors to build. Other projects, such as spec houses, are the result of communication between an architect and a developer, with minimal homeowner involvement.

Architect & Homeowner

Projects that are structured as design-led buildings primarily rely on the architect consulting with the homeowners to translate their needs into construction drawings. This kind of design process fosters an intimate dialogue between architect and homeowner as the design evolves to meet the users' unique living styles.  

The contractor is brought into the relationship after all design documents have been completed.Because the contractor has not been part of the design process, the contractor often requires access to the architect during the construction to ensure accurate interpretation of the construction documents. As part of the architect's construction administration services - which may be an additional service fee -  the architect will issue clarifications, review shop drawings, and make periodic visits to the site to observe that the building is constructed according to the plans.

Architect & Homeowner & Contractor

There are definite advantages to having the contractor involved in the design process, before construction. Firstly, the early onset relationship between homeowner and contractor allows the homeowner to see if the selected contractor will be a solid fit for the job before the project gets too far along.

Contractors are often aware of the cost of materials, especially seasonal fluctuations and shortages, which can influence the design parameters depending upon the project budget. Any budget driven design revisions can be made quickly as the contractor provides real-time price information.

The ongoing communication during the design phase between the architect and contractor also allows the contractor to be more aware of any difficult or non-conventional construction details. This familiarity with the intricacies of the design avoids costly budget changes due to possible mistakes in execution. It also allows the contractor to suggest alternative construction methods earlier in the design phase.

Architect & Contractor/Developer

In some projects, such as spec homes and pre-planned communities, the prospective homeowner is largely detached from the design process. In these kinds of scenarios, the architect works directly with the contractor/developer to produce a building for non-specific buyer. Using trends in real estate markets, the team works to translates the data into a desirable building. These projects often have condensed schedules to limit financing costs, and require more general design assumptions to be made when laying out a floor plan. Because the prospective buyer gets involved at a later point in the design process, their design choices are limited to mostly finishes and fixtures.

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