Design + Build

Architect, image via Wikipedia -

Editor’s note: Design + Build is a new series by Steve Lazar, owner and operator of Lazar Design/Build, focusing on aspects of the profession usually left unsaid.

Look up the word ARCHITECT in the dictionary and there is the typical Latin root of the word and other roots of the word, but essentially it says nothing more than MASTER BUILDER.  Your architect or master builder will head your process in the proper direction.  Let’s call the “point man”, the “go to guy”, or the “solution.”  Whatever he is referred as, it is imperative that your chain of communication is with one and only one person to eliminate confusions today, tomorrow, and in the future.  There is an inherent challenge to the standard relationship between the homeowner, the architect, and the builder.  There are three different entities, all with possibly different goals or objectives.

Home owner:         budget

Architect:                creation

Builder:                   conflicted

Who is the client? Is the home owner? Is the architect?  If the builder is hired by the home owner than of course the home owner is the client.  Typically, this is the standard relationship. However, the builder also has some allegiance to the architect, and this is where things can start to get conflicted.  The builder is caught in a pickle between two different entities with possibly two different goals.  If budget is not a consideration than there is no conflict.  In 20 years of designing and constructing custom homes, I have never been bound by some sort of budget.

One possible solution is that the architect hires the contractor and the contractor’s total allegiance is to the architect. He is merely the construction arm of the architectural firm.  Bye-bye budget.

Another possible solution is DESIGN / BUILD. Now don’t get me wrong, not all designer / builders are good.  In most cases quite the opposite.  However, if a home owner can find an accomplished DESIGNER / BUILDER, then the process of building or remodeling a home can avoid numerous pitfalls and can be enormously satisfying for both parties involved and keeping within a budget.

Notice I said both parties involved. By engaging with an accomplished DESIGNER / BUILDER the homeowner has eliminated one entity and the entire process the can endure for months or even years.  A two way relationship is clearly simpler and more efficient.  All the finger pointing comes to a screeching halt when there are only two parties in the relationship.  The blame game of “it can’t be built that way” or “why does it cost so much,” is no longer part of marriage when the process is streamlined between the client and the master builder.

Next week: Marriage

Cite: Lazar, Steve. "Design + Build" 25 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Arquipablo

    Totally Clever….

  • am

    As an architect/builder, I build my own designs for clients, low budget or no budget & successfully tender some projects to other builders.
    I’m guessing you don’t like architects…and are trying to drum up work for your business.

    • lazar

      i imagine the projects you do yourself give you much more satisfaction. your vision…your accomplishment.

  • kisstoney

    “In 20 years of designing and constructing custom homes, I have never been bound by some sort of budget.”

    Is this correct?

    • lazar

      isn’t there always a budget?

  • Tosh

    These ideas are really very old.. there is so many new ideas coming out now about how to redesign the whole constructional industry in the UK.. design/build is a rather traditional approach already. Look up “BIM” and what is the best way for a company to implement it, look up new forms of contracts.. the approach discussed in this article is rather old now.

    • Arquipablo

      Not agree…I think he is talking about the majority of the projects…small and medium buildings…where talking between 2 actors is simple and better instead 3…
      BIM is a new form of “thinking” all process, but the chain “the client – architect – builder” remains the same

  • Matt Wells

    It’s all a ploy for the construction industry to take over. In our firm’s experience, all design/build projects have the contractor as prime. The architect then is obligated to satisfy his client, the contractor, rather than the true client, the owner. BIM is just one more step in making life more difficult for the architect and easier and more profitable for the contractor. And, LEAN construction methods take it to other other level yet for the contractor’s profitability. We are slowly loosing grip on our profession and becoming strictly a service oriented necessity.

  • Tom Miller

    Architects are always limited by budget. This is one reason why people avoid architects because they think their project will run over budget with an architect rather than a design/build professional. There is a website which helps you find clients and agree on price before starting, I like the idea check it out: the name is ARCFUNDA

    • Emily Jones

      I like this ARCFUNDA! the idea is how the future of architecture should be.

  • Kevin Wilson

    I like the website, ARCFUNDA! this is the future of architecture. everybody has their own office at home. You choose project, client and budget! cool!