What comes first, the Architect or the Contractor?


Interesting question, and totally dependent upon the type of work, the extent of the scope of work and the relationships that the purchaser may, or may not, have with any local contractors or architects.

If the purchaser has any personal relationship with either an architect or a contractor and is planning on using either one, then the selected party should offer selections for the remaining unselected party.

It has been my experience that a professional in either discipline will have the names of the selected preferred party they would like to interact with.

However, if there are no relationships already established the following parameters should be used.

What is the size and scope of the project? Is the project an addition, renovation or completely new project? If the project is small and does not appear in the owner’s estimation, overly complicated, many times a good professional contractor is all that is required.

If the project is small but complicated, then the selection of an experienced professional architect first, is recommended. An architect is capable of streamlining the complicated, and designing the least complicated project to obtain the required objectives. The use of a contractor without the guidance of an architect could cause the purchaser to incur additional cost, due to overly complicated structures, designs, or solutions.

It is important to understand the relative abilities of each party.

Architect, Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers in comparison to the actual contractor

Strengths

  • Design elements
  • Coordination of design and blending of details and concepts
  • Selection of finishes as well as mechanical and electrical components.
  • Details on how all the components will be coordinated and work together.
  • Selection of the most efficient and current technologies to enhance the project and provide the most consistent professional project possible.
  • Coordination of structural, architectural, mechanical and electrical components.
  • Knowledge of Building codes and design issues.
  • Professional analytical capabilities to select and size structural, mechanical and electrical elements

Weakness

  • Physical building concepts and field details
  • Construction scheduling and management
  • Construction costs
  • Coordination of sub-contractors, material suppliers and vendors
  • Knowledge of common building elements used in the local environment
  • Labor relations / union verses non union
  • Material vendors, suppliers and specialty product suppliers
  • Sub-contractor selection and contract negotiations
  • Change order management and submission.

Building contractor in comparison to the architect and engineers

Strengths

  • Physical building concepts and field details
  • Construction scheduling and management
  • Construction costs
  • Coordination of sub-contractors, material suppliers and vendors
  • Knowledge of common building elements used in the local environment
  • Labor relations / union verses non union
  • Material vendors, suppliers and specialty product suppliers
  • Sub-contractor selection and contract negotiations
  • Change order management and submission.
  1. Building contractor in comparison to the architect and engineers

 

Weakness

  • Design elements
  • Coordination of design and blending of details and concepts
  • Selection of finishes as well as mechanical and electrical components.
  • Details on how all the components will be coordinated and work together.
  • Selection of the most efficient and current technologies to enhance the project and provide the most consistent professional project possible.
  • Coordination of structural, architectural, mechanical and electrical components.
  • Knowledge of Building codes and design issues.
  • Professional analytical capabilities to select and size structural, mechanical and electrical elements

As can be clearly noted, the strengths and weaknesses of the architect and engineers is the opposite of the building contractor. Therefore the use of a team approach will guarantee that all factors of the building process is analyzed and covered.

Of course, as with every sales pitch, the architects and engineers, will tell you that there is no possible way you can construct your project without them, and the builder, will repeat the identical sales pitch back to you for their services.

It is difficult to present an accurate answer to the question for all circumstances. There is a need for professional design experts (architect, engineers) on even the smallest of projects, if there is engineering issues, problems or creative solutions required. However, the majority of builders, if selected properly and according to guidance from professionals, have the ability to construct and solve a myriad of problems from simple to difficult. On the other hand, the design experts will not be capable of constructing the actual project; therefore the builder is always required.

Once again, as I have stated in past articles within this website, it is my opinion that the hiring of a professional construction consultant for, even a few hours, will allow you to evaluate the need for the engagement of design professionals for your specific project. The construction consultant can identify the need for all specialized services and will only recommend the design services that will offer financial and design benefits.

Unfortunately this question is similar to the infamous, what came first, the egg or the chicken? All circumstances are different; however the use of a local professional consultant should offer enough information for you to make the proper and most informed determination.

 

 

 

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