It is happening more and more often that some of my potential clients (now clients) have asked me if I can do the building work as well.
My answer has been always NO. My company is a design practice which mission, ambition and vision is to serve my clients for delivering the best possible design that considers their briefs and budgets, with the aim of always surpassing their expectations when the outcome is there in front of them.
Good and beautiful design is the cause, the inspiration, and the goal.
I understand the question as probably the most challenging aspect of refurbishing a home is finding a good builder that is not just good, but honest, reliable and who cares for the design to be made real as it was conceived. This plus the headache of managing many professionals instead of one is very tempting for many clients.
My suggestion is always don’t do it at least your project costs more than 1.000.000 pounds and you have a fantastic lawyer who knows of design and construction so he or she can write a bullet proof contract for you and if things go wrong you can afford either to fight back or to continue the work with another professional.
It takes me a little bit of time explaining the reasons why I would not offer both options to them which I would like to share with you in this the last design post of 2018 hoping that it can bring some light for the projects you are thinking to embrace in 2019.
In an ideal world the designer is the professional who will translate your dreams into reality, for whom every idea, detail, finish, has a role to play within the big scheme of the project: the parts are an integral element for achieving the big vision.
The builder is the professional who will understand how to take that information from the paper to the real world making it a tangible reality.
The builder has to be very knowledgeable in order to be able to decide the best routes to follow, the technical ones for achieving the desired outcome. It is the duty of the builder to evaluate the drawings and decide the best method to use during the building process; many times these decisions may affect the design and its outcome.
It is a very complex process that requires complex skills.
With this information as a background what happens when design and builder are the same company?
The project starts with the design team who enthusiastically delivers a good project for you, which you approve.
From this point it passes to the building team who interprets it and processes it so to start the building work.
If everything has been assessed and estimated accurately on both sides (believe me it rarely happens) the process will run smoothly and beautifully.
If the building team forgot elements or underestimated the complexity of the design either they will charge you more (if the contract allows this to happen) or they will need to implement short cuts so to avoid the numbers going to red (reducing quality, changing detailing that the design team will have to accept as otherwise the project won’t be profitable ).
In few words either the design or the construction quality starts to be compromised. There is the chance that you probably even won’t be aware of it as the building company will explain you things in such a way that you in your lack of knowledge will need to accept as they seem logic.
This from the construction side.
Now let’s see from the design perspective: If the designer (s) forgot or made mistakes during the design process the builder colleagues will need to improvise on site in order to solve the problems without jeopardizing the profitability or the project.
I have seen both cases.
When builder and designer are independent both demand information that will minimize the risk of these situations to happen. If the builder wants to change details because he/she forgot or misunderstood the drawings the designer will protect his/her creation. If the designer forgot or made mistakes the builder will demand either more details or revision of the design; and you will be informed in both cases allowing you to take the best possible decisions.
If both parties work with good intentions and honorability the project will have much more opportunities of having a beautiful and successful outcome.
Now the professional on which shoulders the effectiveness of this communication relies is the project manager. An extremely important professional; but we can talk about him/her on another occasion.