ePrivacy and GPDR Cookie Consent by Cookie Consent The pitfalls of 'design and build' companies

The pitfalls of 'design and build' companies

While tempting to homeowners, those extending or converting their home should bear in mind these downsides to 'design and build' companies.

5 min read

If you’re pursuing an extension or conversion, you’re probably considering a range of companies for your project. Perhaps some of them are architecture practices (ahem) but others might be what’s known as ‘design and build’ companies.

At Resi, we’ve met many homeowners who have gone with a design and build, and while some of those projects worked out, some suffered the hidden consequences of this industry. After all, while architects design to maximise the space and well-being of the homeowner, someone in the construction will be designing to maximise on ease of build and profits - creating a conflict of interest. Those who use them can not only potentially face poor design and dodgy construction, they might also be hit by some nasty budget blows.

To understand why caution should be exercised, here are some of the common pitfalls to using a ‘design and build’...

Misleading prices

One of the reasons design and builds are so tempting is the upfront costings.

Whether you go for an extension, conversion, or even renovation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different processes, professionals, and prices you’re faced with. So why wouldn’t you be woo’ed by someone providing one simple price for the whole lot?

The problem is it’s very hard to accurately price for an entire project, especially early on. Don't forget, each stage in your journey to construction is there to help eliminate the unknowns and nail down key details - a process that's near impossible to skip. Without this work, you'll be relying on guesswork to fix a number to your entire build.

The costs of a build can vary depending on various factors such as structural changes, internal re-design, the amount of glazing, fittings and fixtures, size of the extension, etc. A traditional architectural approach will allow you to explore all these details, so you can pick and choose depending on your exact tastes and desires, resulting in a more bespoke end product.

In contrast, a design and build company will quote you upfront because they base their prices on previous projects, meaning you’re being quoted for what’s known as a 'standard design' and not your design.

They will also be quoting on a 'best case scenario' in terms of build, not from an accurate set of plans. This means if unforeseen aspects arise during construction, or you want to deviate from the 'standard design', then that will come at an extra cost to you, if it wasn't pre-agreed. Providing for some potentially nasty blows to your budget.

Limited choices

The other downside to this ‘all in one’ method is how limited you are when it comes to the other key professionals involved, both in terms of securing the best price and service.

At Resi, we believe in a flexible approach to the process. This allows you to approach multiple professionals at each stage, guaranteeing you get the best expertise and the best price. We'll also assist you in making your decisions, helping you to understand market prices and what each supplier brings to the table (often, if something sounds too good to be true, it is).

For example, using our Connect service, a Resi customer will be introduced to:

  • Multiple structural engineers
  • Party wall surveyors
  • CCTV drainage surveyors
  • Approved inspectors
  • Contractors

Our Connect service introduces you to vetted contractors who can help bring your designs to life during construction. We vet contractors by assessing them against a range of criteria amongst which are: whether or not they are Trustmark or FMB affiliated, whether they have the relevant insurances in place; an assessment of their past work; meeting minimum financial standards; and finally, references from both previous customers and trade.

In contrast, a design and build company will settle on your team at the start, limiting your say on who’ll be carrying out the work. This means you won’t be picking professionals based on the best prices or the best expertise, you’ll literally get what you’re given - not ideal for your home and what's likely to be your biggest investment. For the best result, you want to be able to choose between multiple quotes and be able to test out the market.

Design and build doesn’t equal an architect

Unfortunately, there are no rules to which professional can put together your floorplans. This means anyone, regardless of whether or not they’re an architect, can design your project.

While this might sound liberating, it does open the door to some pretty poor design work. Don’t forget, architects train for years before entering the profession, often working under more senior designers for their first few years. This level of experience and training isn’t easily beat.

Architects are masters of creating beauty out of the practical, of finding ingenious ways to change up your layout, spotting potential storage areas, and incorporate features which improve your wellbeing.

Without an architect, you might be able to get through planning permission, but there’s a chance you’ll end up with nothing more than a box on the end of your house. Not only will this be an uninspiring place to spend your time, it’ll also make it that much harder to recoup your investment when it comes to selling your home down the line.

Therefore, when considering a design and build, make sure you ask who exactly will be designing your project - an architect or a contractor?

Benefits of using Resi…

At Resi, it’s our mission to make growing your home as simple as possible - bringing the quality of a traditional architecture practice, with none of the headaches.

Under one roof, we bring together…

  • Architectural design
  • Measured surveys
  • Planning support
  • Building regulations
  • Finance
  • Plus introductions to vetted contractors/suppliers in your area

Our flexible approach means you pay for the things you need while being given accurate quotes throughout - no nasty fee surprises here!

And with our in-house team of surveyors, architects, designers, planning officers, technicians, and brokers, you’ll have everything you’ll need for a project tailored to you and only you.

To learn more about what Resi can do for your home, book in a free consultation with our team. We’ll provide expert advice on everything from design, planning, to finance - all free of charge.

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