Builder/Architect Partnerships: How to Work Together Effectively

If you’ve ever partnered with a real estate agent, you know how productive forging that type of relationship with someone in the home building industry can be. The same concept applies to builders and architects.

Relationships between builders and architects can be contentious, but they can also be incredibly productive, effective, and beneficial when approached appropriately by all parties.

An effective partnership won’t happen in a vacuum, though. If you’re considering partnering with an architect, here’s what you need to know about establishing a working relationship that benefits everyone involved, including the homeowner.

Establish boundaries before the work begins

Builders and architects have similar goals, which can lead to conflict if one party seemingly oversteps their boundaries or tries to battle for expertise in a certain area. Thankfully, strife can be avoided if you establish those boundaries from the very beginning.

Custom Builder interviewed Ray Hartshorne, a partner with the Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture firm in Chicago. Hartshorne has some wise advice for builders and architects:

“Builders should be hiring architects for their design expertise, and they should really allow an architect to make their strong recommendations regarding the design and its execution … Likewise, the architect should recognize that the builder has great expertise on building and should recognize and pay attention to that strength.”

As the builder, you’re the expert on construction and managing the budget. The architect you partner with will be the expert on design. If you both recognize and respect these roles, you’ll have a smooth relationship. When you trust the architect you won’t feel compelled to alter the designs during construction, presumably because you know that the person you’re working with knows what they’re doing.

Be selective about the architect you partner with

Just as home builders vary in experience and skill, so do architects. If you hope to have an effective partnership it’s important to work with someone who knows how to design residential homes.

You’ll also want to find an architect who understands the basics of what materials and labor cost. Some architects have a poor working concept around how much certain details cost, and those people will be incredibly difficult to work with.

Above all else, communication is key

The easiest way to create an effective builder/architect partnership is to focus heavily on consistent communication. Bi-weekly or monthly meetings will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and this is also a great opportunity to bring the homeowner in so that they’re up to speed.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way toward a mutually beneficial partnership with a talented architect.

 

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