top of page

Collaborative Construction (the BEST way to build your home)

In my business, I'm constantly on the lookout for really great content.

Industry ideas, trends, techniques, approaches, hacks, checklists—anything that can provide value and be helpful to others. And while being on the constant lookout for content ideas that are new and fresh has been my typical method of operating...

I recently took a stroll down memory lane and found a blog post from 2017 that was so darn good I just had to share it again.

​My good friend Ashley Hopwood Farrar a Licensed Architect and Design Consultant, and owner of Meldrum Design wrote the following and with her permission, here it is again.


Collaborative Construction (the BEST way to build your home) This information is adapted from Ed's article "A Better Way to Build." Click here to download the original. The Problem (the Common Building Process):

  1. Architect and Homeowner design what the client wants but not what they can afford.

  2. Architect and Homeowner ask a few Contractors to bid the project.

  3. Contractor spends a huge amount of time compiling their bid. The Homeowner will likely pick the lowest bidder so the Contractor knows they need to be optimistic with the numbers. They cut their contingencies too thin. And the Homeowner is on a budget so they did not ask the Architect to provide technical specifications such as flooring type or what kind of toilet the Homeowner wants. Now, in order to create the lowest bid, the Contractor is going to make assumptions about ALL the specifications.

  4. Construction begins and the change orders are flying. The Contractor needs more money for that water-efficient toilet the Homeowner wants. The Contractor didn't know the Homeowner wanted maple floors, they only budgeted for vinyl. The Contractor joined after design was finished, we can't expect them to know the Homeowner's preferences! Plus, by choosing the lowest bidder, the Homeowner has also chosen the most optimistic, unrealistic builder.

  5. The Contractor, Architect, and Homeowner go on the defense, protecting their position and financial interests. One hopes this would happen in a civilized manner but, man, it can get dirty.

  6. The Homeowner gets disappointed. They have to cut back on some of the coolest aspects of their new home. Ed explains it perfectly, "It’s like test driving a Mercedes all day and then buying a Kia! They are never really going to be happy with the Kia because they didn’t get what they actually wanted to experience in a car"

BLARG! So frustrating. As Ed says, "All the parties involved can be great people with good intentions, but by the time they finish building a project using this process, they’re stressed and exhausted, with relationships permanently damaged. There is a better way." If you know anything about building a house, you know this situation really happens. Common construction is fraught with negative emotions. The Solution (Collaborative Construction):

  1. The Homeowner assembles their project team. They bring people on board in whatever order makes sense. Perhaps the Homeowner knows a Contractor who knows an Architect who knows a Project Manager who knows a Decorator... *Some lower-budget projects cannot afford a Project Manager. In that case, the Homeowner should set aside many hours each week to act as Manager.

  2. The Homeowner shows their budget to the project team. As team leader, the Project Manager manages project costs with input from all other members of the team.

  3. The project team is allowed to collaborate through the entire design process. The Manager, Architect, and Contractor use their creativity and expertise to create the best design to meet the Homeowner's goals. Together, they specify all details including equipment, finishes, and fixtures. By the end of the design phase, all parties know exactly how this project should look and what it should cost.

  4. The project gets constructed with very few surprises. When issues do arise the project team assembles to figure out the best solution. AND, because the Contractor was bidding from an informed position rather than a fearful one, the bid is correct! The home is finished on budget and on time. AND everyone still likes each other!

Imagine a building process based on trust instead of fear... And it's all within reach! This article is first published at Meldrum Design.

Sometimes the best bet is to remind ourselves of the foundation on which all of our businesses are built—the relationships where we collaborate. Find us on Instagram where we post helpful ideas every week. Be Well, Ed


bottom of page