Buyer beware: Why it's best to use the architect's builder

If you've already dropped a small fortune on architectural plans for a new house, it might be tempting to try to score some mates rates off that friend of a friend who's a builder to save a few dollars. But beware: it could cost you in the long run.

Architects and builders agree, it's probably for the best to work with your architect's preferred builder, or vice versa.

Brisbane architectural builder Rob Gray of Graya Constructions said it also made for a better finished product, as well as saving money and time.

"All the high-end builders are highly passionate about they do and love what they do and they want to get the detail right every time," Mr Gray said.

His team recently completed a home in Plunkett Street, Paddington, which he said came out almost exactly like the architectural renders. Mr Gray attributed the success, in part, to the relationship he had with the architect.

Award-winning architect Tim Stewart said he often recommended going with a specific builder to his clients.

"It inevitably makes the process smoother because we can understand the way they like to do things and we can detail it to the way they like to do things from the start," he said. "We work on the same page from the beginning."

So how does that save you money? Architectural builders are some of the most expensive in the market, right?

Not necessarily, according to David Moses of Sydney construction company Horizon, who said working with an architectural builder offered clients a more realistic appraisal of the cost of bringing an architect's plans to life.

"A lot of people make the mistake of not finding out whether their design aligns with their expectations of the timeframe or cost," Mr Moses said.

Attempting to find another builder who can do it cheaper can result in disappointment, award-winning architecture firm, MCK Architects said.

MCK principal Steve Koolloos said managing a client's expectations was an important part of the design process. "We are increasingly engaging with both prospective client and builder, as early in the process as possible, so no one ends up being disappointed," he said.

Getting your mate to build the plans may look cheaper to begin with, but Mr Gray said it often meant the builder who ended up with the project wouldn't be fully aware of the what the build would require and the client's expectations.

"There's a lot of hidden traps in an architect's plans and if they don't have that relationship, it will be a bit harder," he said.

Mr Gray argued there would be some unintended consequences if you decided to change the plans to save some cash, too.

"If an architect designs a set of plans and you go and grab those plans and give them to an average builder and change a few things because it'll be cheaper and easier to build, it might say in their contract they can remove their name from the project and you also can't talk to the person who designed your house."

"It can be fully at the cost of the homeowner if they've taken that path.

"You waive that portion of the service and you lose the value of saying that that architect drew up your house."

This story Buyer beware: Why it's best to use the architect's builder first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.