The pitfalls of design and construct builders

The pitfalls of design and construct builders

Renovations, Tips and Advice, New Homes

design and construct buildersAs one of Brisbane’s most experienced architects, I have seen people make a lot of innocent mistakes when it comes to building or renovating homes. But one of the most common mistakes that I and other Brisbane architects often see, are people falling into the trap of choosing to work with Design and Construct Builders.

And there are plenty of Brisbane builders who offer design services, typically through drafts people that they either employ in-house or those they have an alliance with.

Problems with design and construct builders

So what’s the problem with this you might ask? Well, it’s probably easier for me to illustrate the problem by posing a question to you.

Would you buy a car that has been designed by the people on the factory assembly line? Or would you rather buy a car that has been designed by a talented designer who specialises in automotive design?

You see the people on the assembly line are no doubt good at assembling parts of the car, but what do they really know about designing cars for comfort, safety, fuel economy, lifestyle purpose etc? The answer is they probably know very little.

So with that in mind would you want your home designed by the person who builds it? Or by a talented, experienced architect that understands things like comfort, functionality, sustainability and lifestyle design?

Whose goals mirror your own?

Now ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are the builder’s goals?
  2. What are the architect’s goals?
  3. Out of the builder and the architect, whose goals most closely mirror your own?

The builder’s goals are simply to build the house in the fastest, easiest, most profitable way. I’m not saying that they are trying to rip you off or do a dodgy job. I’m just saying that the easier the job is to build the faster they can get it done. The faster they get it done, typically the more money they make.

But the architect’s goals are different. They don’t have to build the project so their entire focus is on creating a design that will meet your goals and enhance your lifestyle.

So which of two most closely mirrors your project goals?

Advantages of having an architect do the design work

Not all architects are the same so let’s focus now on dion seminara architecture and the advantages that we offer.

  • Because we are creating the design independent of any builder our design is 100% focused on your needs. That’s not to say that we create designs that are a nightmare to build, but rather that our interest is in what’s best for you, not the builder.
  • At dion seminara architecture we offer a holistic approach covering architectural building design, interior design and landscape design. I am personally not aware of any design and construct builders that offer all of these services in-house, which means the chances of you getting a blended design where all elements work seamlessly together is greatly reduced.
  • We use an independent Quantity Surveyor to cost your project so that you know how much you are up for and that everything is staying within your budget.
  • We can manage the application and building phase of your project on your behalf. Because we are not the ones building the project, we can oversee construction to make sure that everything is being built to the standards that are specified and that the builder is not taking any short-cuts.
  • But most important of all, unlike a design and construct builder, we are not locked into using any particular builder. Therefore our designs can be tendered on by any number of builders which means you’ll be getting the best possible deal in terms of price and construction time. Now, this part is important, as we commonly see a range of prices up to 20-30% in the quotes we get from builders tendering on projects! If you’re using a design and construct builder you can’t get a second or third quote. Do you really want to be paying up to 30% more to have your home built?

The changing face of construction

Fortunately for homeowners, some builders have begun to realise the value in having an architect create the designs for their client rather than trying to do it themselves. This makes sense of course because a happy client has to be good for their business long term. In addition to this, an architect that provides plenty of detail in their designs can make life easier for the builder as so much of the thinking has already been taken care of.

So if the success of your project is important to you, leave the builders to do the building and have dion seminara architecture create your ideal design.

Dion Seminara Architect


Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.