In recent years, the housing industry has witnessed a surge in small businesses aiming to provide a convenient “one-stop-shop” for all aspects of design and construction. However, clients need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of this trend.

At times, we’ve observed that some builders, whom we or our clients have engaged with, express eagerness to assume control of projects. Their intention is to introduce their in-house drafting teams for documentation.

But there are a few risks with this approach we thought we should raise.

Many entrepreneurs, have embraced this concept. They transition into builders and often hire inexperienced drafters or individuals with limited experience and local knowledge. These drafters are willing to offer their services at remarkably low rates, creating a competitive edge that designers and architects find challenging to match. Nor do they want to match this level of service.

The catch here is that some builders may seek to make alterations to the original design and take shortcuts, all without the scrutiny of the designer. While these actions might save time and money for the builder, they don’t necessarily translate to cost reductions for the client. In essence, it becomes a matter of the builder’s interest conflicting with the client’s.

Ideally, your designer and architect should serve as advocates for you, the client. Their role is to help you understand the intricacies of the design and any proposed variations. This ensures that you remain informed and have a say in the direction of your project.

It’s crucial for consumers to be aware that designs created by the builder ultimately belong to the builder. In cases where issues arise or dissatisfaction emerges due to cost or design outcomes, clients often find themselves in a challenging position, often requiring them to start the process anew.

Of course, not all of those one-stop shops are bad. But we would recommend being more vigilant and do a proper reference check and enquire about who will be doing the drawings. And just because someone can do drawings that does not mean that they are good at designing or have experience in designing or documenting high performance homes.

We however firmly believe in close collaboration with our chosen builders. This collaboration is where the magic happens. When the designer, builder, and structural engineer can come together to optimise construction and design, exceptional results emerge. Collaboration is the key to success. Ideally, you should consider involving a builder as part of your team right from the start of the construction documentation phase, especially if you aim to build a high-performing home or even a passive house.

In conclusion, while the idea of a one-stop-shop for design and construction services can be enticing, it’s essential for clients to exercise caution and maintain a collaborative relationship with their designer and architect. This approach ensures that the project aligns with their vision, needs, and expectations, ultimately leading to a more satisfactory outcome.