Contractor vs Architect and Your Construction Project - Architect's Digital Workshop
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Helping Homeowners Design and Build Their Dream Home

11 Sep Contractor vs Architect and Your Construction Project

Contractor vs. ArchitectContractor vs. Architect

When I first graduated with my degree in architecture and started my first job, my boss would describe contractors as gorilla’s that dragged their knuckles on the ground as they walked.  As an architect, I had to interact with contractors; I viewed it more as Alien vs. Predator.  After 30 years of working with contractors, I realize how wrong that was.

I realized it was not Alien vs. Predator, but more like The Odd Couple.  Two people from different worlds but working toward the same end goal; completing your construction project.  Why am getting lost in movie metaphors?  Because how your contractor and architect get along will determine the success or failure of your project.


The contractor is the person who will read and interpret the construction drawings that were prepared by your architect.  If the drawings are not complete, they may guess or estimate at critical design decisions to give you, the homeowner, a bid for your project.  Are there gaps in the construction drawings? – You bet.  There are many pieces to a new home or remodeling project.  Budgets are tight; timelines are short and things can be missed.  Many a contractor has saved my bacon by picking up the phone and asking for my help – allowing me to make the decision that may affect the design of the project.

I have been fortunate to have worked with some excellent contractors.  But I have also heard stories about contractors who don’t pick up the phone and give pricing for projects.  The homeowner later learns that the contractor has exploited gaps in the plans to introduce Change Orders.  These Change Orders may be justified.  But I have found that they can be prevented when the architect and contractor are working together, they can reduce or even eliminate Change Orders.

Contractor – My New Best Friend

I work hard to make the contractor working on the project my new best friend.  Not to slip things past them or the owner, but to build a working team that will construct your project.  I know there are gaps in any plan.  I also know that there may be mistakes on the plans.  Who is more likely to find those errors before they are a problem, the contractor.  He can f two things: 1) call the owner and complain that their architect is creating problems for their project, 2) call the architect and work as a team to review, revise and correct the problem.

I am rooting for option two every time.  I want the opportunity to make the corrections.  When the architect and contractor are working together, they can overcome challenges as they appear.  The project will go smoother for you, the homeowner, and quicker for the contractor.  Everyone is happy.  The architect is happy because they have a happy client and contractor and a winning project to put in their portfolio.

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