5 Key Insights to Help Ensure Your Dream Renovation is Done On Time and On Budget

Many Birmingham homeowners can relate to the story of one of their neighbors, who hired a big-name local architect to design their dream primary suite addition. “When we saw his blueprints, we were thrilled,” they recalled. “He gave us everything we wanted, and we couldn’t wait to get started on the build. The problem was that he gave us everything we wanted, which doubled our budget, forcing us to start the project over again from scratch. Wish we knew beforehand…”

What this Michigan metro family wishes they had known before hiring their architect is vital best practices that could have saved them thousands of dollars, and weeks, even months, of time. Architects do what they do best—make dream renovations a reality—but without consulting with builders throughout their design process, even the best can lose touch with the realities of what goes into the construction. Your family can avoid such pitfalls with these five key insights:

Insight 1: The Traditional Approach to Hiring an Architect Has Many Challenges

Architect with unhappy homeownerDiscerning Southeast Michigan homeowners take pride in choosing an architect for their renovation project who is fully accredited and has an extensive portfolio of impressive local work. Sure, to be a member of the Institute of Architects (AIA) and/or the National Association of Remodeling (NARI), a preferred architect is knowledgeable, experienced, and eager to make their clients’ remodeling dreams come true through consultations, concepts, and design.

An initial consultation helps capture your vision, which the architect then compares to his measurements and drawings of your existing home. Your architect will then create a few concepts that capture the high-level layout and functionality of the proposed renovation. After you choose your preferred concept, they’ll develop more detailed schematic designs in the form of blueprints and plans. General contractors are then vetted, and bids for the work are solicited.

Although that traditional approach sounds simple and seamless, numerous challenges arise due to the design and build phases of the project being separate. As the above story related, misalignment between expectations and budgets is common, often due to the architect creating a design that pleases the eye, but not the balance sheet. With the best talent and intentions, architects can be unaware of construction details that impact timing and budget.

Challenges with Communication Gaps

Communication gaps between your architect and the contractor hired separately to do the construction can cause additional challenges. For example, an architect might design your new Bloomfield bathroom with a high-level layout and function, but his job description won’t include specifying the need for a zero-threshold shower and linear drain to prevent leaks and mildew. Uninformed, your contractor will skip those features, causing delays and change orders later on.

Insight 2: Common Pitfalls of Hiring an Independent Architect Have Serious Implications

Unhappy homeowner with carpenterArguably the most significant and common challenge with hiring an independent architect is the potential negative impact on project timelines. Consider the industry average of anywhere from three to six months for an architect to perform their consulting, concepts, and design. If at that point you realize that your dream primary suite has lept from three hundred thousand dollars to six, they’ll have to start all over again, half a year, and nonrefundable fees wasted.

Potential Risk of Change Orders

The lack of continuous and seamless communication between the design and build phases of your Pleasant Ridge home renovation project can trigger redos and change orders, also increasing time and cost. For starters, your architect might not anticipate the scarcity and expense of materials, fixtures, and appliances, which can only be known by consulting with your downstream contractor in advance of finalizing the casework, electrical, and plumbing plans.

In addition to unanticipated material limitations and building costs, some designs that look beautiful in blueprint form might prove too impractical or difficult to construct while staying on budget. Unless the architect actively consults with the expert craftspeople and technicians who bring your vision to life, communication breakdowns are inevitable. In some cases, in-progress projects require midstream course correction resulting in significant delays and cost overruns.

No Single Point of Contact

Another vexing challenge is managing your project when multiple companies are working on your Beverly Hills home. Ostensibly responsible for helping to vet contractors and bids, your architect soon hands off the countless construction responsibilities to the builder—and most of them to you. Everything from choosing materials and fixtures to managing day-to-day operations becomes your duty, since there’s no single point of contact for the whole project.

Insight 3: A Trusted Design-Build Firm Can Mitigate These Concerns

Eric and Steve working on floorplans

Design Based on Your Budget

Your AIA and NARI certified architect can create conceptual design drawings that will make your eyes tingle and mouth water—but finalizing them into detailed blueprints without first seamlessly partnering with an interior designer and the contractor who does the build will also likely make your checkbook weep, and banker rich. Your budget shouldn’t be based on your home’s new design—your new design should instead be based on your budget! Design-build ensures that.

Homeowners Signing Warranty AgreementSingle Point of Contact and Accountability

In essence, the difference between traditional and design-build remodeling firms is the integrated approach they take to your entire Royal Oak remodeling project. Rather than hiring an independent architect to design your dream renovation in isolation, and then placing the burden on you to manage construction quality, timing, and costs, a quality design-build firm becomes your single point of contact responsible for every aspect of the project from the start to finish.

One Firm with Proven Expertise

Rather than pay multiple companies for providing separate services that often don’t blend well together, you hire one firm having proven expertise from exterior to interior design, infrastructure to fixtures, appliances, and every single material selection.  Once your project is through the design and estimating process, it is then supervised by a highly skilled project manager. Your PM becomes your main liaison with a team behind him or her to vet through every detail of the project.  Such a singular, unified approach offers economies of scale, heightened efficiencies, and reduced risk.

A Feasible Design Honoring Your Timing and Budget

The overall result takes the burden off your shoulders and empowers the fully accredited, integrated design-build architect to propose a beautiful yet feasible design that honors your timing and your budget from the get-go. By providing streamlined communication and that single point of contact, you’ll get more accurate cost estimates, better budget management, and faster project completion with reduced delays. But be careful, not all design-build firms are the same!

Insight 4: Compare These Real-Life Case Studies to Discover the Design Build Benefit

SCENARIO A: Bane of the Traditional Approach

homeowners having regrets about remodeling because of mistakes

  • A Birmingham area homeowner hired an AIA-certified independent architect to design a major remodeling project, with a large, multi-room addition. The architect didn’t consult with the general contractor at any point throughout the design process, instead handing over his specifications for cabinetry, tile, plumbing, and fixture layout. The GC accepted the architect’s blueprints “as is,” and quoted the entire project based on the prints the architect provided.
  • The ball was then entirely in the homeowner’s court, who then needed to meet with several vendors on their own and select all the building materials. The homeowner also had to find an interior designer at additional cost to transition the work to the build phase by laying out the cabinetry, electrical and plumbing work, and all the material details. The GC also added additional costs, not figured into the original contract quote, to liaise with this interior designer.
  • Coming as a big surprise to the homeowner, warranties, and liabilities associated with all the items purchased through these additional vendors were not assumed by the builder. That meant everything from third-party cabinet shops to plumbing, appliance, and lighting sellers, and their showrooms were not covered. The homeowner was therefore responsible for working with all of these vendors to negotiate and get compensated for any damages and work through layout details.
  • Further frustrating the homeowner, multiple items were never detailed on the architect’s prints and the builder’s plans, including crown molding details on the cabinetry, exterior trim specifications, and the like. The homeowner was therefore responsible for ensuring the interior designer detailed these out, adding yet more costs. Who is the expert here? Who is the project manager? Who is the one to negotiate between all these companies when things go wrong?

SCENARIO B: Boon of the Design-Build Approach

  • Another Birmingham area homeowner instead partnered with a design-build firm, with an integrated, on-staff AIA-certified architect. The architect consulted with the homeowner to capture the family’s vision of an ideal remodel and large home addition and did so in league with the project manager and in-house production team to tweak and confirm a design that met the budget and timing requirements before providing the homeowner with a fixed price construction agreement.
  • The design-build firm then assigned the homeowner an in-house, highly qualified interior designer, responsible for walking the homeowner through each selection item. Costs were transparently revealed at each step, with design ideas alongside full working construction drawings that included cabinetry install drawings, tile, plumbing, and electrical layouts. Detailed drawings were discussed and approved by the homeowner throughout the process.
  • Next on the design-build agenda was assigning a dedicated, on-staff project manager to run the entire construction project from start to finish. The project manager collaborated with the entire design team to ensure all details were vetted before installation, and in alignment with the vision and expectations of the interior designer and the homeowner. The PM bore 100% responsibility for the project being completed on time, on budget, and to expectations, with no excuses.
  • With all the design specifications, materials selections, and overall planning approved, the project then shifted into the build phase. The homeowner met with the project manager once a week, was updated on progress, and was proactively informed of any unexpected changes or issues. The homeowner slept well at night, knowing that their well-planned and expertly implemented design-build project would be completed to quality standards, and as promised.

Insight 5: Ask the Right Questions and Expect the Right Answers

Meeting with homeowners

As we’ve seen, Detroit metro residents have many things to think about before hiring a trusted, experienced, certified, and locally proven architect to ensure their home remodeling project is completed on time, on budget, and of the highest quality. From cost to timing considerations, project management to coordination roles, and design methodology to their approach to unforeseen challenges, vetting the right architect for the right job is a job in itself, and seems never-ending.

Work with Michigan’s Best Architects

By partnering with a design-build firm, area homeowners are instead able to reap the rewards of working with Detroit’s best architects while avoiding the numerous pitfalls of fragmented communication, increased risks, hidden costs, stressful liabilities, significant delays, and continuous accountability. Explore the magic and ease of partnering with a proven design-build firm with a dedicated, single-point-of-contact project manager to lead the entire project.

Research Design-Build Firms Carefully

As you search for and vet Birmingham design-build firms, keep in mind that they aren’t all alike. Be wary of general contractors who purport to have all their experts on staff, and be leery of those firms who subcontract their craftspeople and designers. A true design-build firm is fully integrated and has a full capacity bench eager and able to see your on-time and on-budget remodeling project through from the architect’s initial concepts to the final quality inspection.

 Verify Their Qualifications

So don’t hesitate to ask: Is their architect fully certified and highly experienced? With whom? American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Association of Remodeling (NARI), Home Builders Association (HBA), American Society of Interior Design (ASID), and/or the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)? Is the project estimated at a fixed cost, with ample warning about any rare if necessary change orders? Is all work insured and guaranteed?

Overcome Architect Hiring Obstacles with MainStreet Design Build

Interior Design AwardsMainStreet Design Build is a full-service, design-build remodeling firm headquartered in Birmingham, MI. The local leader, MainStreet is committed to delivering a luxurious end-to-end experience marked by personal care, accountability, timeless design, and exacting attention to detail. Since 1991, our team has made the renovation process comfortable, enjoyable, and safe, ensuring your home transformation exceeds your expectations at every turn.

With a deep bench of distinguished, fully certified, in-house architects, MainStreet Design Build is favored by discerning homeowners throughout Southeast Oakland County who value a high level of comfort and trust in knowing that their remodeling project will be done RIGHT. Browse our gallery of award-winning renovations, and schedule a virtual design consultation. Let’s partner today to take the burden of finding and hiring the best architect off your shoulders!

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