I Am Ready To Build: Which Approach Should I Use?
The weakened economy has benefited those desiring to build a new home in several ways. First, the abundance of builders from only 3-4 years ago has been thinned as most builders have not been able to sustain the market. The wiser, more reputable builders have remained, and the risk of contracting with someone less qualified for the task has been greatly diminished. Secondly, the competitive nature of the bidding process has been ignited, as opportunities are fewer, resulting in aggressive proposals and tightened margins. Lastly, those builders who once had waiting lists may now be available at a moment’s notice, with reduced workloads leading to more concentration on fewer simultaneous jobs. But the bidding process is still a delicate one that is not to be taken lightly.
In times like these it is only natural for consumers to take advantage of the competitive market and stretch their dollar to the limits. We compare prices, quality, warranty, and service. We compare one builder to the next, knowing that someone out there wants the sale worse than the next guy. But this approach may not always be the best when it comes to building a custom home, as this purchase is significantly different than most. Building a home may likely be one of the largest investments you undertake in your lifetime. It requires a mutual trusting relationship- one that will continue long after the sale.
So having said that, there are two schools of thought: The Design/Build Approach and The Design-Bid-Build Approach. The Design/Build Approach involves an owner, builder, designer/architect. This methodology involves the initial team working together with a supporting cast of surveyors, engineering companies, interior designers, etc. In this approach the Design/Build team works as one in a synergistic fashion to seamlessly take you from design to the turn key construction of your new home on budget.
In contrast, the Design-Bid-Build Approach often times separates the builder and his supporting team from the initial processes of planning and design. Once design drawings or plans are complete, the client then selects a handful of builders to bid the project out to. Favoring the Design-Bid-Build Approach over the Design/Build Approach can lead to great frustration, lost time & money, and establishing an apples to apples comparison among bidders can be extremely difficult.
Plans and Specification documents can define angles, thicknesses, materials and allowances, but rarely are they so complete that all competing bidders actually interpret them the same. Each competing builder will contact their sub-contractors and vendors as they go through the bidding exercise, each left to their own interpretation inconsistencies increasing the difference in the final proposal. More often than not, any grey areas in the plans or specifications will be manipulated by a bidding party to increase the chances of a successful bid, rather than bidding the ideal desire or intent of the homeowner.
Another common mistake is made when comparing markedly different builders and their respective proposals. Executive support and interaction, supervisory staff, total experience, design services, skill levels, accounting practices, warranty issues, company goals and overall value differ tremendously from one builder to the next. There is no right or wrong of course, but there is most likely a mix that fits your personal style and overall vision.
So if not The Design-Bid-Build Approach then what? We of course prefer and would recommend The Design/Build or “team” Approach. Now narrowing down the field of builder candidates can be tough, but here is what we recommend: a) identify builders who have the wherewithal and supervision necessary to handle multiple projects at the same time, b) conduct personal interviews, c) go with the proverbial “gut feeling”, d) check both client & professional references as well as the financial health of the candidate you have in mind.
Make sure that the builder you choose can properly manage the project and sub-contractors every single day. Are they a one or two man gang? If so, it is likely impossible for them to be on the project every day if they have simultaneous projects going on. In this case who manages the project if a builder’s representative is not there, the sub-contractors? How is it possible to keep track of draw schedules, accounting of where the money is going, pay their workers every Friday and manage every worker on the job every day? Experience & operation are key, how many years has their process sustained this market? What kind of technology do they have to build the home on the computer before they build it in the field? Conduct personal interviews because it may reveal a characteristic, methodology, or business practice that you admire.
Finally check references because there is nothing that compares to a well satisfied client. Check references of current clients, past clients, contractors, bankers, and accountants- do not simply rely on hand picked references, but do a bit of digging along the way. How is the financial health of the builder? Will they be around long after the sale?
Once you have done these things you are ready to move forward with your first builder of choice. Remember you will be spending the next year with your builder of choice so as long as your builder invests his time, provides good counsel, treats you with respect, and puts his best foot forward, you should have nothing to worry about.
One very significant yet intangible benefit to the Design/Build Approach is the opportunity to establish a mutual and trusting relationship well in advance and their ability to create increased value.
At Diamante Custom Homes
our motto is “One single accountability source, one design team, and one contract.” We start with the common goal that everyone has a budget and this is not just to make conversation. We have the ability to cost your project out the entire way through design, after every design revision you will see what it did to the budget. We have been operating under the Design/Build or “team” Approach for 20 years now and it has not failed us once. As one of San Antonio’s premier preferred Eco-friendly Builders we would love to talk to you about your next dream home. Feel free to contact one of our senior partners at 210-341-6430 or
click here to have one of us get back to you promptly.
Diamante Custom Homes
5139 N. Loop 1604 West, Suite 102
San Antonio, TX 78249
(210) 341-6430 - phone
(210) 568-4514 - fax
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