Benefits of Working With An Independent and Talented Architect

We often get the question, “What are the advantages of working with an independent architect or designer?”

While there are some builders that create custom residential drawings, our team at Hamish Murray has chosen not to draw the design in order to focus on the quality construction and building of the home. We believe that our clients are better off when they work with an architect or designer who best matches their personal style. Since it’s an important home project, we believe you’ll get more from selecting your architect or designer directly.

In addition, we are sometimes asked, “When should I hire a designer versus an architect? What’s the difference?”

This article explains some reasons for choosing an independent architect or designer – and how to choose between an architect versus a designer.

The difference between a design-build contractor vs. an independent contractor

Let’s start with the builder who employs their own designer or architect. They may tell you that they will provide you with a cohesive team, that is, one company that will be responsible from the beginning to the end of a project.

Design costs Design costs for an independent architect/designer should be similar to a design-build contractor’s rate. Sometimes, the design-build contractor fees are less. Despite that, when you are spending so much on construction, paying just that much more on your design may be the best investment you can make. A talented architect or designer of your choice can often deliver beyond your best imagination!

Your personal tastes and lifestyle matter, so design your remodel or new home for what’s best for you. Do it right. Don’t later adjust your life around a space that isn’t quite right.

Cohesive team It truly is important that you have a cohesive builder-architect team on the job site. Having a construction crew who will listen to the creator of the drawings is important because it’s rare to have construction drawings with every small detail in them. So, make sure your builder prefers to listen to your architect or designer. At Hamish Murray Construction Inc., we have highly collaborative teams that enjoy working out the fine craftsmen details with the architect or designer, so that there is design integrity and consistency throughout.  

Why we choose not to employ our own architect or designer If you find your builder is a good fit for you, and you find an independent architect or designer that is a good fit for you, and they both will work well together, that’s important. You’ll get the best of both worlds; the best design for you and the best quality build. We’d rather focus on being excellent builders and strong collaborators, and leave the taste of our clients up to them.

Pros of a Design-Build Contractor Depending on the contractor, you should get a “cohesive team”, so long as the employee creating the plans is strong and experienced, and is empowered by the employer to advocate for you during construction.You may save some money on the plans, but this is not a given. For cost savings, some may offer to modify their existing home plans.Cons of a Design-Build Contractor
This could be a critical issue! You may have less satisfaction if the architect or designer employee is not the best fit for your tastes. If the person creating your plans is the builder’s employee, this person may not advocate and push for design continuity with their employer during construction.  
Pros of an Independent Contractor
You get to choose your architect and designer. This is a big opportunity! Start by going to a gallery of completed projects to see which architect or designer resonates with you. You can trust that the architect will have more opportunity to advocate for you and interpret design details during construction.  
Cons of an Independent Contractor
It is possible to hire a combination of architect or designer/builder that do not work well together. (At Hamish Murray Inc. we have team-approaches in place to ensure cohesiveness.)Small potential cost savings are possible. However, you may find hiring your own architect/designer is just as cost-effective, depending on the professional.

When to hire an architect and when to hire a designer

A registered architect is strictly governed and generally has more education. Some designers are self-taught; others have formal training in interior design or another design concentration. Some have the same level of education as an architect. With a designer, ask about their credentials and area of expertise.

The main thing to find out is what the architect or the designer likes to design! All architects enjoy designing the flow and space of a building. Some do not like to choose materials, products, and colors, whereas others do.

If you already have all your home structure in place and want to change up certain elements within the home such as shelving, lights, colors, and materials, a designer may be the better fit. But if you are going to move walls or do an addition, often an architect is the best choice to make. If the architect needs a designer, they usually have a trusted professional in mind.

Every project is different and each architect has their own personal design strengths. We recommend that you start with an architect and explain your project. Ask the architect how they would describe their services versus a designer and what they recommend for you. Then you decide what’s best for you.

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We would be happy to talk with you about your project

If you are thinking about a home project, we are the builders and we work with the designer or architect of your choice. If you are looking for a few recommendations, we’d be happy to talk with you about what you are looking for so we can suggest possible architects who may be a good fit for you.

At Hamish Murray Construction Inc., we pride ourselves in knowing not just how to build a quality home or remodel, but how to build on schedule and on budget. We would be delighted to talk with you about your project ideas. We seek to bring your home dreams to life, while keeping your project within a realistic budget for you.

Contact us

We’d love to hear from you. Contact us or call us at (503) 460-7203 with questions you have, or to tell us about your home plans.