Which Comes First:
The Builder or the Designer?
Just like the proverbial “chicken and egg” question, “Which comes
first?” is a question that confuses some people, but must be answered
before you start the custom, homebuilding process. While the answer may
seem obvious, it’s important to know the right answer in order to avoid
problems from the beginning. The designer comes before the builder,
Wrong! Read on…
Sometimes people get the cart before the horse and in all the excitement,
they get ahead of themselves. Mike and Janine thought they had done it all
right. They had a roll of plans tucked under their arms, a sparkle in their
eyes, and a skip in their steps because they knew they had something very
special—they had the plans to their dream home.
During the last several months, Mike and Janine had spent countless
hours dreaming about their new home and holding meetings with their
designer. They went through revision after revision pouring over the plans
until late in the evenings. The couple worked tirelessly to make every
room just right—put the baby’s room here, move the daughter’s room
there, make that closet just a bit wider, add two feet to the kitchen—giving
instruction upon instruction to their designer about each room.
Their dream home included the newest ideas from This Old House,
the latest trends in low voltage lighting, and cutting-edge insulation that
could lower energy bills by up to 90 percent. It had a cabana like the one
they saw while vacationing in Acapulco, layers upon layers of moldings,
extra tall ceilings, an additional bay in the garage, a steeper roof that was
changed—not twice, but three times—because their friends told them it
looked too shallow.
Mike and Janine were now ready to find a builder. They were so excited!
Janine was bubbling over with her plans—holiday decorations, birthday
parties, and dinners with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma. They
had their finished plans and they were now ready to build. They could see
it; they could taste it; they could hear the sounds of laughter around the
And then the moment of truth arrived.
They were ready to talk to a builder and get him started on their new
house. But here was the problem: the actual cost to build this house—the
house they had labored over for so many hours, over so many months
ended up costing 75 percent more to build than they expected.
How did this happen? Well—they asked the designer and he gave them
his estimate of what it would cost. That’s what they based their plans on.
The designer’s estimate.
And that is the problem. The designer is not trained in doing cost
estimates. This news was so devastating to them that Mike and Janine just
rolled up their plans, walked out the door, and… sold their lot.
Their dreams had been shattered and they were crushed. After all their
initial efforts, they couldn’t gather the energy to start the process all over
again. But it could have been different. If only this enthusiastic couple had
known the importance of which comes first: the builder, not the designer.
If you’re in this predicament and you’re unwilling to sell your lot, turn
the page and discover what happens next by reading Jim and Linda’s story.
Questions? Leave a comment in the box below or call James or Joe directly at their Santa Maria, California office at 805-928-8948