Start With the Architect or the Builder First?

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If you want to build a custom home and aren’t sure whether to start with an architect or a builder first, we’ll explore both options.

Let’s say you decide to start by engaging an architect first. You meet with the architect and share the perfect dream home you envision. The architect designs an amazing home based on your lifestyle, with all the features on your wish list. You love it and are excited to move forward with the custom architectural plans and meet with your builder.

Next, you meet with your builder and provide your architectural plans. Your builder then takes the plans and bids out the materials, labor, and all costs for the project.

Once the builder’s bid is ready, you meet to review the proposal. You are then shocked to discover the cost to build the home your architect designed is way over your budget goal. So you have already paid the architect for designing plans that you now know will cost far more than you budgeted for. What do you do from here?

Revisit with the architect to redesign the plan? Or down-size the sf and/or lean down some features? This approach will incur more costs with the architect to keep revising the plan until the builder’s bid is within your budget. At this point you’re probably asking, isn’t there a better way?

Yes! If you want to be certain that the home you want can be built within your budget goal BEFORE your hire anyone or even contract on a lot, start by meeting with the builder first!

By reversing the order and starting with the builder first, you can avoid the sticker shock nightmare and wasted time with the other approach.

At Thomas Sattler Homes our process begins by meeting with our customers to learn about the home they envision, the lot they want to build on, their time frame and budget goal. We then will analyze and research every variable needed to provide you with a Conceptual Estimate.

The Conceptual Estimate is a feasibility analysis we provide at no cost to our customers, to help them understand the total project costs and determine if the home they want can be built within their budget goal, before making any commitments.

Using our expertise in estimating, we can accurately map the starting point and destination of the project, usually within 3 – 6% of the final project cost. We then use our Conceptual Estimate to collaborate with the architect and design a home that will meet the customer’s budget requirements, followed by a 4-point cost review to dial in the final price, or fixed price contract.

This is why fixed-price contracts are often preferred, because they clearly map out the project and keep progress on track to complete at the agreed upon price. This approach is the ideal way to determine feasibility before ever beginning a project. Our award-winning process ensures that your dream home can be built within your budget goal, on time, with expert craftsmanship, and with maximum value.

So avoid the rushing ahead into pitfall of starting with an architect’s design that can cost way more than you budgeted for, and begin by working with your builder first to chart the path to a successful build.

Reach out to us today and discover The Intelligent Way to a Luxury Home!

Found the perfect lot? Already own land? Call us today to schedule your free feasibility estimate! Know your total project cost before you commit to any decisions. We pride ourselves on a customer-oriented experience, always putting your needs first. You can reach the Thomas Sattler Homes Sales Team at Call (720)449-3562 or online at