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Oh Joy! Builds A House: Choosing an Architect and Contractor

How to Choose an Architect and Contractor / Oh Joy!

After finding land, our next step in building our forever home was to find an architect and contractor to make this dream come to life. The process in which this happens can vary depending on what type of home you're building. There are some developers and builders you can hire to design and build a custom home with both parts built into their process. In these cases, they may have specific types of land to build on or have a set style they build and design to. But you know by now, our land is on a hill and not the easiest to build on, so we chose each partner (Architect and Contractor) separately based on who was the best fit for our project.

Here's a video that shows at a glance of the process and how we went about it! We found an architect first and fully designed our house before finding a contractor that could execute it. Because the reality is...you can't get an estimate for the cost of construction until you have a design to show. And, both are crucial to my next post about getting construction loans for a home build. And, you can't get a construction loan until you know how much it's going to cost to build your home and you don't know how much it will cost until you have a design in place. There are so many interconnected parts to this process that heavily rely on one another.  

How to Choose an Architect and Contractor / Oh Joy!

The Architects. Cleo and McShane of Project M+ had recently finished building their own house around the time we were contemplating this crazy project. We had mutual friends in common so we chatted with them about their process. The next thing you know, we got to see their own home first hand which is a prime example from their own portfolio. Their style and aesthetic matched what we were looking for, and after a few phone calls to various past clients, we decided to hire them to design our home. They were really the first partners of ours for this project when we first found the land four years ago as we spent a good chunk of the first year with them designing and prepping for permits. We have had many in-person meetings as you do in the early stages of any design process. But once major designs are in place, we now communicate a lot by phone and email. In upcoming posts, we'll dive deeper into our actual home design and that whole process!
 
If you are looking for an architect and don't have any personal referrals, ask around as much as possible on Facebook, Instagram, and any social media channel you use. Chances are that friends, acquaintances, or even strangers who follow you or you may follow have similar tastes so those suggestions are a great start! You can also check out sites, like Houzz, where many architects feature their work!
 
How to Choose an Architect and Contractor / Oh Joy!

The Contractors. When it came to finding a contractor, I asked every architect I knew for a referral. Architects are a great place to start because they have to work with contractors on every job to make their designs come to life. Because both my husband and I work very busy full-time jobs, we needed a contractor who was very organized and had great communication skills. This is where Boswell Construction came in. While they were higher in price than another contractor we almost went with, their communication and organization skills are incredible so we felt they were worth the value they would bring to our project. We have weekly meetings on site (which is crucial for us on staying informed with our entire team), they respond to emails and texts quickly, and really make the process as seamless as possible for us. Most of your interaction with a contractor will happen after construction begins. Some people are very involved with their sub-contractors and want to be able to choose each sub-contractor for the job. We chose to let our contractor handle most of that. We do get to chose between some subs if there are varying price options, but for the most part, we do not interact with the sub-contractors.
 
In this process of choosing both an Architect and Contractor, you'll likely meet and interview several of each. After you decide who you're going with, I always like to close the conversation with those you have not chosen. While you don't necessarily owe them a "We've chosen someone else" email, I think it's good feedback for everyone to know why they didn't get chosen for a job. Whether it's due to their fees, you wanted a smaller or bigger company to work with, their style wasn't quite right, etc. That helps to inform them for their own knowledge and everyone can move on being in clear communication with one another of where you stand.
 
Check out my post over at Architectural Digest's Clever, for the specific criteria I suggest looking for in both an Architect and Contractor!

If you have any other questions about this process or anything else you want to see in my upcoming posts on this project, please leave a comment here so I can make sure to reply and cover it!
 
{Photos by Lily Glass, video by Jenner Brown}

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