These are real builder questions that I got from readers of my e-book, "Residential Development Made Easy" with answers from a major USA Master Builder operating in 48 States.
My wife and I are planning a new home. We intend approaching a builder or two in this area, and I plan on asking them these questions.
My wife is very adept at planning and researching. Under what circumstances do you recommend we hire an architect? And Why or why not? (This is not a loaded question. I am not an architect and neither is my brother-in-law. We would prefer to construct without hiring an architect.) Reply
It would depend on your budget. Some architects in US charge as much as 10% of budget of a home to do plans. Master Builders, as opposed to "Local Builder Bob," don't like to place their clients in a position of hiring an architect until they really need one. The best advice our clients get is to prioritize their actions as follows:
First: Get loan;
Second: Get land;
Third: Get Interior Designer;
Forth: Get architect.
In our case, we have in-house architects and structural engineers.
It is best to hire an Interior Designer (ASID) and have them work with you to design floor plan, which is uniquely suited for how you and your family use space and style you like.
Armed with this floor plan you would then send it to us and we would create your architect blueprints from it.
Blueprints are part of quote we provide our clients. This way they don't have 'Sticker Shock' from a local architect.
How much price and quality research re materials can we expect our builder to do or to have done?
This depends on builder you hire. For most part, you can't expect too much. Most builders work in their comfort zone.
They use materials they're used to working with. They usually won't try something else unless insisted upon by home buyer or developer. And, then they usually hire an outside source to do this.
As Master Builders, we use current technology and one of reasons why we are both profitable and successful is that we keep abreast to new technology and want our buyers and developers to have this benefit in their homes.
Is it reasonable for us to ask our builder to identify his subcontractors and allow us to talk with primary subs before we enter into a contract with him (and after)?
It may appear to be reasonable from your point of view, but, not very realistic. Subs come in and out of a job site. If one is not available another one is called in.
Once you have signed a Contract with a builder, he is your 'one point of contact.' The subcontractors are his subs - not yours. Remember you have engaged him for his building management expertise to complete job on time and on cost.
That means he must have full control and so by you talking to subs directly you are creating confusion. You can't have two bosses on a job.
Confusion costs you more money. When you or your wife talk to a sub, you are not engaged in a social conversation. Let's say you made an innocent comment about some aspect of subs work - like you regret picking those tiles in bathroom and have seen some nicer ones. That is all you said!