Design/Build vs. Architect/Gen.Con vs. Internet plan/designer/GC
Karen Bos
September 8, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We are currently in the early planning stages of a new construction but overwelmed with all the options out there. I have found a plan I mostly like and we have a builder/general contractor we trust. I feel like our Gen. Contractor will steer my choices towards what he currently likes doing (custom hickory cabinets) vs. what I really want. My plan needs some changes and I'm open to others. I'm curious how pricing stacks up if I use a design build firm or an architect and a gen contractor. I feel like the latter option would require hiring a designer as well, which is where I'm leaning if we go with the internet plan and our general contractor. With a budget in the 200-250k range, what is our best option?
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Frank Manipole
Hi Karen,

In regards to pricing, you will always pay more going with an architect. Architects charge premium pricing for designs/drawings/renderings/plans and usually take a lot longer than someone (like myself) who just does design concepts.

I am glad to hear you are so knowledgeable about the entire process. Most people have no idea they are able to have renderings (2D & 3D) made with several different options to choose from.
September 8, 2013 at 4:01pm      Thanked by Karen Bos
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FINNE Architects
Although I run an architectural firm, I would advise going to a design/build firm, given your tight budget. Good luck!
September 8, 2013 at 6:05pm        Thanked by Karen Bos
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Frank Manipole
Any updates on your progression?
September 10, 2013 at 1:39pm   
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Karen Bos
I've met with a friend, an interior architect, who can alter the plans we like. She'll also be able to act as the design part of the design/build team with our current builder. I do plan to meet with a local design build firm whose work I have admired for years. I feel like this will give me a good comparison. I definitely think going an architect route is out of our price range since we are likely buying more land than we originally planned.

I appreciate your helpful words. Thanks
September 10, 2013 at 4:22pm     
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ReSquare Architecture + Construction
The one thing I would urge you not to do is alter stock plans without a licensed Architect that carries E&O insurance doing a full run-through of the set for coordination revisions. Anything else and you will be more likely to face errors that result in change orders from your builder AND be on the financial hook to cover them. Houzz design dilemma discussion have more than enough examples of how badly that turns out.

In my opinion, your most cost effective and safest option is to get stock plans (they can be great!) from an outfit with designers on staff to make the changes you want and provide you with an integrated set that includes your changes. From there you can work with a designer if you want to help you and the builder finish it out to your taste and budget.

But have you spoken to local Architects about what you are looking to do and gotten a sense of what they can offer from a service/fee value perspective? You may be surprised at how much value you can get with an Architect willing to do a little work with you on your service needs. If your friend is a licensed Architect, and will take on the E&O liability on their work, then you are probably set going that route.

But failing either of those, the design build approach is a really good option. A true DB is an integrated team of designers, engineers, Architects and builders working together under the same roof and performance contract with experience doing so many times before. It will cost more than an interior designer altering stock home plans for a builder, but that's because there is no comparison in value.

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!
September 10, 2013 at 6:08pm     
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DMH DESIGN
As ReSquare mentions, and that you may face possible litigation if you take any liberties with copyrighted information. I agree with the value proposition, too, which is "price is what you pay, value is what you get." Happy Houzzing.
September 11, 2013 at 1:58am     
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Matt Patterson Custom Homes
As the owner of a design/build firm I normally recommed going that route. I agree with ReSquare. Get the stock plan company to make changes. Get the builder you selected to get an account on houzz. If you havent already done so, create idea books and have your builder build based on the design books.

One of the joys of building custom homes is getting ito your client;'s heads. I'll be doing a rustic home for for one client, a neon & chrome hard contemporary for another and a gold-leafed Louis XIV for another. Do not let the builder just slot you into his/her particular taste.
September 11, 2013 at 2:16am     
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Karen Bos
Wow, you all raise even more questions for me. Thanks for all the input. I will definitely be making some calls to find out more about the services offered by local architect/design firms. I'm glad I asked some opinions and early in our process.

I am currently looking at a plan through Thehousedesigners.com. They offer the option of having the plan edited by their team or purchasing an editable plan. Are there any stock plan sources that you recommend? I would prefer to sit down with someone in person to talk over the changes I would like vs. phone and email.
September 11, 2013 at 4:13am     
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ReSquare Architecture + Construction
@Karen: you are seeing the value of asking questions; keep doing that THROUGHOUT the process! You are venturing into unknown territory for you. You can't know what things you don't know unless you ask questions and stumble upon them. The more you ask, the more you discover!

As far as the stock plan shops, I can't recommend any, not having used one. I suspect, for cost reasons you won't find one that will meet with you personally unless they happen to be based right next door, and even then, they probably shop out the design and drafting changes to some other distantly located designer, India probably.

However, you can always have your friend be your representative with the stock plan contact. Have your friend work with you on changes you'd like to a stock plan, and then scan/email that altered plan to the stock house to implement. Seems like it could work that way.
September 11, 2013 at 9:05am        Thanked by Karen Bos
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cme44
Awesome information here, thanks everyone!
March 13, 2014 at 2:57pm   
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Buck Construction LLC
It's worth mentioning that in many regions of the country a typical set of building plans requires the involvement of at least three licensed parties- architect, structural engineer, and mechanical engineer (sometimes a civil engineer as well as an electrical engineer will be required). If you're purchasing a stock set of plans online, make sure your town or county will be satisfied with the level of planning/engineering provided by your selected firm.
March 13, 2014 at 3:09pm        Thanked by Karen Bos
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ReSquare Architecture + Construction
@Karen: how is it going? Well I hope!?
March 14, 2014 at 10:08am   
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Karen Bos
Good and bad. I found a stock plan from Mascord Design that suits us perfectly and our land. We are still tied up in the land purchase and the longest winter in the midwest. Hoping to make headway in the next couple months. Thanks for asking.
March 14, 2014 at 10:34am   
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ReSquare Architecture + Construction
We had a hard winter in LA too. It rained. TWICE. ;-)

Good luck with it all!
March 14, 2014 at 10:44am        Thanked by Karen Bos
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