I recently heard a story that shocked me to my core. At first, I wasn’t going to share the story on a public forum for two reasons, it’s not my story and I didn’t want to contribute to the old age argument between builders and architects. That all changed when I heard a second, very similar story. So here I am, about to share with you something that can protect you. We hear the same advice given often about builders, this time I’m giving you some advice on architects.
Architects – Do Your Research
I must be transparent, I have not contacted the architects involved to comment on the experiences shared with me. I do not believe this is common practice but like rogue builders, there are rogue architects and you as a consumer should be aware that things can happen. Sharing of these experiences is for your awareness only.
Several weeks ago I was made aware of a friend who had contracted a big-name architect to draw up their plans for their new family home. This is a high-end project with a high-end budget. My friend had spent some 18 months working with this architect to get the plans to a satisfactory state. They had also spent upwards of $50k on the plans alone.
Once the plans were completed the architect sent the plans to ‘their builder’ for quoting. The quotes came back $400k over budget!! That is a massive amount for plans that were drawn with a budget in mind. So my friend asked to take the plans to a builder they had sourced. The answer was NO. Written in the fine print of the contract with the architect, was a clause that meant the plans were only my friends IF he used the architect’s builders.
My friend went on to offer another extraordinary amount to purchase the plans outright, only to be asked for an outrageous amount by the architect and if my friend did not pay, they had to walk away.
So, my friend walked away. They had lost a lot of money, 18 months of their life and their dream house plans.
With a little research of my own, I found that while not common, it is practice for some architects to have a team of their own builders, who mark up the price of a job to ensure the architect is receiving a healthy kickback.
Now I am not suggesting for a moment that every architect with their own or prefered builders do this. What I am saying is that you need to be aware that this does happen in the industry.
So how do you as a consumer protect yourself from this kind of trading? Read your contracts, every clause, every word and if you are unsure, take it to a solicitor to help you understand every part of the contract.
Ask questions of your architect, are the plans yours to keep regardless of the outcome? How confident is your architect to draw plans to suit your budget? How often do their plans actually come in on price from builders? Do they have previous clients they have worked with you can talk to?
Then research the crap out of them, find reviews, stalk them on social media, ask around. Talk all the necessary steps to be sure you are working with someone you trust.
If your architect does work with their prefered builders, then ask to meet them and do the same research BEFORE you sign a contract for your plans. When we develop a relationship of trust with an architect we are inclined to work with people they then trust, but does that make it the right fit for you? Research all these options before you begin working with the architect.
Have you had plans drawn only to find they were well outside your budget? Had a great experience with an architect, I’d love to hear about it.