How Architects Work with Home Builders to Build Quality Homes

When homeowners choose to embark on a big home remodel or new home construction, it is critical to know how to choose the right combination of architect and builder. After all, these projects take many homeowners into uncharted territory. Having a seasoned and competent team can make it fully enjoyable, with the best results.

Modern entryway with wooden room divider and bench designed by architect Paul McKean
Architect: Paul McKean Architecture LLC | Photography: KuDa Photography

How a luxury builder demonstrates competence to homeowners and architects

Home construction companies are not all equal. If you are building a luxury home, you need to know that your luxury home builder has already demonstrated the skills needed to take the quality up to that level of home. This does not mean just experience; it’s also a mindset.

Here’s what we believe most architects would suggest you look for in a luxury home builder:

  1. Gradual experience over time towards doing quality construction
  2. Value and respect for the architect’s vision and areas of competence
  3. Strong competence in noticing and attending to the many details
  4. Interest and ability to communicate at every stage to the architect and homeowner
  5. The same deep caring about the end result as the homeowner and architect
  6. Strong references from previous clients. Ask the homeowner if it was a fair process and good value.

Paul McKean, Principal at Paul McKean Architecture, LLC is one of the independent architects in the Portland Oregon area that Hamish Murray Construction has worked with across several home construction projects. Paul McKean offered us his thoughts on the best qualities of a builder:

“There’s a higher degree of thoughtfulness and care that goes into a custom high-end project. Strong luxury home builders bring much needed experience that has been built gradually over time, as there is always new learning from every project…”

It’s not just about a good track record and experience. Your architect and luxury home builder should work as a well-integrated and interdependent team. They should, in a sense, use the same language and share the same values and mindset. After all, they will be relying on each other’s expertise to solve the complex details that make up each high-end home project. Paul McKean goes on to say;

“…Also, a strong luxury home builder needs to be willing to ask questions to the architect when further clarification or details are required; this is also true for any good architect in working with the builder.”

What good architect and builder team synergy and communication looks like

Architect Paul McKean shared some experience on what he looks for in creating synergy with a builder;

“Here’s another earmark I have for a good builder; I’m driving and the builder calls me from his vehicle or from the site in wind and rain. He asks a well-articulated question and I give him my answer. If, together, you can navigate complex questions regarding three-dimensional geometries, over the phone, all with noise in the background, and keep the project moving on course, that’s great communication. We often both need to use clear and specific language to describe things,resolve things quickly, wherever we happen to be. We both need to be good listeners and also explain ourselves very well.”

At Hamish Murray Construction Inc., how we align in values with the Architect shows up during construction. As a small example, we recently had a project where a finish carpenter had completed some details that resulted in a wood finish that was not super smooth and had very minor wood variations showing through the finish. Hamish Murray and Architect Paul McKean looked at it together, and it was a gray area for whether it should be smoothed out or not. Just raising the question provided clarity and gave both of us the needed answer; that yes, it needed to be redone and smoothed out.  

Bright Modern Dining Room with vaulted ceilings and skylights by Architect Paul McKean
Architect: Paul McKean Architecture LLC | Photography: KuDa Photography

Most of the time, as a builder, if there is something that is not quite up to our vision or quality standard, we just course-correct before others are involved.  Often, course correction will not even happen because we have strong well-trusted trade partners who share our standard for quality, such as for landscape, electrical, exterior, HVAC, plumbing, cabinetry and the like. This next level of quality is sometimes not so easy to describe, but it is reflected in the satisfaction of the homeowner and architect.

How a good architect and builder establish and maintain a realistic homeowner budget

All homeowners want to get good value. Most look to establish a budget and be able to depend on that number. Both the architect and the builder together can help manage a realistic budget for the homeowner. Some architects choose to bring in the builder as early as possible, at the schematic design phase, before beginning the technical, construction drawing phase. Bringing in a builder early can help you avoid spending money on further architectural drawings using a design that will exceed the budget. It’s also an opportunity to get to know a builder before you make a final builder decision.

Although architects have some good experience on what things cost, a builder will know more precisely, especially in today’s volatile supply chain environment.

 For example, the architect, builder and structural engineer could meet and the engineer may suggest certain types of beams to support the spanning a large room. The builder could give that insight, before the final drawings are done, to say how difficult it is to get those special beams. All three can come up with a creative alternative that still keeps to the architectural design integrity.

Vaulted Modern Living Room Design with mid-century furniture by Architect Paul McKean
Architect: Paul McKean Architecture LLC | Photography: KuDa Photography

Finally, most architects know that reputable, experienced luxury builders bid very close to each other. After all, everyone should get fairly paid for the same work while the homeowner should also receive good value.

Final thoughts on your architect and builder relationships

The journey of undertaking a large residential construction project is not for everyone. It requires your ongoing attention because there are many decisions to make, from the design down to approving smaller details such as a recommended door knob. You can rely on your architect and luxury builder team to give you recommendations, but you are in the driver’s seat for all final decisions. Choose your team carefully, where you feel understood and cared for in order to make the journey fully enjoyable.

Modern Kitchen Stove & Cabinetry Design by Architect Paul McKean
Architect: Paul McKean Architecture LLC | Photography: KuDa Photography

Tell us about what’s important to you.

At Hamish Murray Construction Inc., we seek to build each project on schedule and on budget, and always with top-notch quality results. We solely work with independent architects and designers, and we build long-term lasting relationships. We can introduce you to some architects, or bring your architect to us.

Contact us

We’d love to meet you. Contact us or call us at (503) 460-7203 with questions you have, or ask us about our philosophy, experience, or any other question that is on your mind.