Are You Really Ready to Build?

Are You Really Ready to Build?

Problems?  What problems?

If you are building for the first time, it is only natural that you would feel pretty excited and enthusiastic about getting things under way  – it is after all an exciting thing you are doing – very possibly a once in a lifetime thing,   For the most part, potential problems and pitfalls are probably not your focus. 

You may well have just read a bunch of glossy product catalogues and building company brochures telling you how wonderful and easy it will all be.  With lots of pictures of happy smiling customers, a bit like these guys…

Sorry to rain on your parade, but as surely as there are large sums of money involved,  there will be vested interests out there queuing up to help you spend it, happy to tell you whatever you want to hear – just not necessarily what you need to hear.

If you are smart then you should probably approach building your new house with a healthy dose of caution. Your financial future, your lifestyle and your peace of mind are at stake here, and there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, before you go crashing ahead:

On a scale of 1-10, how clear are you about what you need vs. what you want, and are all stake holders in agreement?
On a scale of 1-10, how certain are you that you know the best ways to resolve conflicting objectives with the least compromise?
On a scale of 1-10, how aware are you of all the various options your site will accommodate, and their pros and cons?
On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you know of all the legal and planning requirements?
On a scale of 1-10, how aware are you of all the processes you will have to have in place to get the project delivered on time and on budget?

On a scale of 1-10, how certain are you that the design advice you are getting is unbiased and genuinely the best fit for the job, rather than just steering you towards whatever is most profitable or easy for that designer or builder (capability and integrity definitely varies from one outfit to the next).  Are you sure no ‘back-handers’ are being paid (ultimately by you) when you are being steered towards certain products and systems over others?

On a scale of 1-10, how certain are you that your budget will meet all your needs?
There is no reason a reasonably smart person (and you must be smart to have read this far!) should not be perfectly able to handle some of the ‘donkey work’ in addressing these questions, given enough time and patience.

A smart person would in fact be actively involved and contributing throughout the design process.

However if their target is higher than ‘just average’, and clumsy compromise is just unacceptable, this is also when a smart person appoints an independent expert (one who is willing to tell you what you may not want to hear) to positively lead the process.

Design (or at least good design) is not merely a case of choosing things you like. Selecting things you fancy is really only the tip of the design iceberg, if you want the best outcome – though don’t mention that to your mass market builder!.

To put things insensitively, if you want ‘average’, and ‘easy’, any fool can probably pull this off (and many do) – just keep paying the bills and accepting whatever your volume builder and their ‘free’ design service put in front of you. Maybe you will get to pick the carpet and a few colours. Take a drive through any subdivision to see the likely results.

If you do expect better than average outcomes for your money; i.e financially successful as well as sensitive design that makes the most of your site and your opportunities for lifestyle, then you will need to roll your sleeves up and actually work collaboratively with your designer – and your designer needs to be good.

This is where the training, experience, ethics and straight-out intellectual horsepower of that designer will be revealed – and will either be found wanting (frankly, most are; odds on you can just look out your window for an ugly case in point), or they will reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable, and discover opportunities you may never have even thought of.


There are a range of things architects do beyond just ‘drawing the plans’ that you can call on to maximise your outcome (and selections from a very wide range of tasks within each category).

Not all design companies are good at everything, and no two projects or clients are the same, so listening carefully to your objectives I believe is very important in selecting and tailoring any architectural services to suit your unique needs, even if this means referring you elsewhere.

Certainly at Architecture Prime we would usually recommend, as a first service to you, that we conduct a ‘Needs and Options’ review – systematically working through your objectives and working out strategies for how these might best be achieved, as well as looking at the factors (for example planning rules and other site specific opportunities and constraints) that can impact the outcomes.

The result is a zero-commitment report which is designed to be useful to you, whichever designer (or building company) you ultimately decide to work with.