The industry term for how we work is called Design/Build. It sounds simple enough but it is not intuitive for many people. Many people think that they need plans before they go and find a builder. While this approach can work, it has a high degree of failures and horror stories associated with it. Imagine working with a top architect for months on the design of your dream home. You pay surveyors, the architect and even an engineer and then go out to builders for "free bids". Sounds ok, right?
Wrong! Two major problems with this approach. The first problem is that many, many people over-design the home in terms of complexity and size and then can't afford to build their dream home. A wise saying here is that "architects know what it costs to architect, and builders know what it costs to build". A far better way is to work as a team, right from the start, otherwise known as Design/Build.
The other main problem is the idea of free bids. Remember, you get what you pay for, and it is especially true here. Also, plans alone do not give builders many important things they need to do an accurate estimate. You still need detailed specifications. Without these, the builders are free to make all kinds of assumptions about how to build your home and then execute major change orders when you later realize what has happened. There is a better way, also known as Design/Build.
Building your custom home can be and should be a fun and rewarding process. The key is a realistic budget and a team approach to designing and then building the home with very few surprises. With the team in place from the start and a clear understanding of the budget, the architect and builder can work together to provide constant feedback on the costs of what is being designed. It's that simple.
Off the soap box now. Let's talk about how to get a project started. It starts with land, plans and money. You will generally want help with all of these. Best to get this help up front. These are critical decisions and you will not pay a penny more by getting your team involved early. It will generally save you a great deal of time, money and frustration to get the team in place from the start.