Architect vs. Builder: What’s the Difference?


A Guide to Custom Home Builders & Architects: Everything You Need to Know

Similar to how custom home builders and general contractors have their own commonalities and differences regarding their roles in construction, so do architects and custom home builders. In fact, architects and builders have their own set of unique, highly specialized tasks to complete for every single engagement, and these tasks must be approached strategically to ensure a common goal is reached. This unique relationship makes for an interesting and – when done correctly – effective dynamic, one that very often leads to optimal results and high customer satisfaction.

A team meeting discussing the design phase of a residential project.

To help you better understand the intricacies of a typical builder/architect relationship, we’ll describe the various duties that custom home builders are responsible for. Then, we’ll cover the common duties and tasks assumed by architects. In doing so, we hope to highlight just how much these two professions actually overlap, giving a clearer idea of how custom home builders and architects can work together to obtain that most essential goal: building your dream home.

Let’s start by briefly describing the difference between custom home builders and architects.

What’s The Difference Between Architects & Builders?

A custom home builder is a professional who can execute a custom home or condo build from start to finish. Meanwhile, an architect is tasked with creating the blueprints of what the finished property should look like. The home builders then use these blueprints as a reference throughout the construction process.

In More Detail: What is a Custom Home Builder?

While many custom home builders began their careers as general contractors, the majority went on to refine their skills over time, all the while amassing the staff necessary to complete various home construction and remodeling projects mostly by themselves. Note that we said “mostly,” and that’s because these custom home builders still need to request outside help from time to time. This is where specialists like architects come in.

Now, What is an Architect?

When it comes to building a custom home, architects are the most commonly contacted outside specialists. That’s because they possess a unique skill set that allows them to lay out and visualize a certain design, aesthetic, or blueprint, all while making sure it stays in line with the customer’s wishes (and budgets).

These preliminary design processes can include everything from laying out an entire floor plan to conceptualizing the facade of a house. The architect’s blueprints also have to be up to appropriate standards to ensure safety during construction and long after the completion. Meanwhile, it’s the builder’s job to raise concerns about the feasibility of the plans and make sure everyone follows these blueprints as precisely as possible once construction commences.

It’s also worth pointing out that the educational backgrounds of these two professionals is often quite different. In most cases, an architect will have completed a formal education, ending with a degree in their respective field. Conversely, a custom home builder will generally have completed an apprenticeship or some similar program, then started on their path upwards following years and years of hands-on experience.

So, How Do Architects and Builders Work Together?

Similar to how architects come up with a rough vision or outline of what they want to create during the preparatory design stage, custom home builders also strive to achieve the same level of perfection for their visions. The difference is that the custom home builder does this by identifying and then implementing the most practical construction processes to get the job done on time within a specified budget, all the while following the architects’ original blueprints to make sure everything comes together safely and precisely.

This rigorous adherence to staying within budget can sometimes result in conflict amongst architects and builders if the two parties don’t have a strong relationship. Fortunately, at Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc., we’ve been able to develop a wealth of strong relationships with some of the region’s most talented, dependable, and renowned architects, including individuals at Studio DRAW (who we’ve worked with extensively on projects such as this Back Bay condo), Hacin + Associates (with whom we closely collaborated with throughout the duration of this $10 million townhouse remodel), CBT Architects, and many others.

Architects and Builders: A Home-Building Match Made in Heaven

As a company, we at Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc. have always taken great pride in the relationships we build with our clients. The exact same is true when it comes to our collaborators, especially architects. Therefore, we understand that a custom home builder will always have a vision of what the final product can and should look like, but the architect should also be there to supplement that vision – or, in some cases, present a better version of it.

On that same note, if an architect’s vision is going to be a bit more difficult to execute than anticipated, the custom home builder will come up with an execution plan that best accommodates that vision. Of course, this will often require out-of-the-box thinking and innovation along the lines of this stylish and space-saving hidden television. Despite their different professional titles, educational backgrounds, and areas of expertise, there’s no doubt that the best custom homes are almost always the result of close collaboration between skilled home builders and trusted architects.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the luxury buildings that we’ve been able to create thanks to our trusted architect collaborators, visit our Portfolio page. Or, for a more in-depth overview of how our unique design-build process works – including more insights on how architects and various other specialists contribute – check out our design-build overview.

Finally, if you’d like to speak with a Sleeping Dog representative one-on-one for any reason, feel free to contact us today!


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