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Which Comes First: The Builder or The Designer/Architect?

Lately, I have been sitting with several customers to review the plans they had designed and ready to build.

The title question is one that confuses the homeowners. This question should be answered before you start the plans for a custom home, or remodeling process and the answer is clear. So, what is the right answer in order to avoid problems from the beginning.

Homeowners believe that the designer/architect comes before the builder, right?


In the excitement, owners put the cart before the horse and get ahead of themselves. Jack and Diane, after talking with family and friends, assumed they were going about it the right way.

Plans are completed and now Jack and Diane decide it’s time to start calling builders to price out their dream home. So, with the plans in hand, diamonds in their eyes, they are ready to show off their dream house.

After all the countless hours dreaming about their new home and holding meetings with the designer, making revision after revision, they made sure they had all the bells and whistles planned out.

Jack and Diane where excited when the builder walked in. They rolled the plans out, and they reviewed each room and went through all the specs with the builder.

The time finally came when the builder asked the big question. So, what’s your budget for this project? Jack and Diane looked at each other and said the number the designer give them. The builder replied. Which items can be removed from your plans? Jack and Diane asked him, why do we need to remove items from the plans? The builder replied after reviewing your plans and from past projects I have completed, my price will be 40 to 50 percent higher than the number the designer gave you.

So, they asked the builder how can that be? The builder replied the designer is NOT trained in doing cost estimates. They are trained to design. At this time the diamond eyes went to tears.

Jack and Diane's dreams where flushed like that of a carnival goldfish you won when you were a kid.

This whole thing could have turned out different only if Jack and Diane had known the importance of which comes first:


Phil Calinda Jr.