The Right Partnerships: Builders and Architects in Home Building

The Right Partnerships: Builders and Architects in Home Building title on white background with photo of Amelia Lee and Duayne Pearce and Live Life Build Logo

Choosing the right partnerships can make all the difference in home building.

Discover how the right partnerships between builders and architects transform the home building industry.

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They are just blown away by what an incredible life they get to lead in this home, and then they tell all of their friends and family.

Builders and Architects’ Challenges in Building Partnerships


All right, everything Amelia and I are doing at Live Life Build is about getting the best outcome we can for clients who want to build and renovate. So we’re not afraid to stir things up and tell people how it is. And I think this one’s going to be one of those, Amelia. 

What would you say to builders who feel it’s too hard to collaborate with designers and architects? 

They may have worked for a lot of them in the past, and they’ve had bad experiences. 

It hasn’t worked out well. 

They haven’t made money on a job. 

They didn’t manage it correctly. 

Or they may even think that they’re better at it. 

They can pull off the design better than a designer or architect can. 


This is an interesting one, isn’t it? Because it is a bit of a contentious issue in the industry. And we’re firm believers that there are specific roles in the industry for a specific reason. And that the best way for a homeowner to get the best result for their finished home is to have those roles in the industry working to their best capacity, to their best potential. 

That’s when designers design, and builders build. My firm belief is that designers aren’t builders, architects aren’t builders, and in the same way that builders aren’t designers. And I’ve seen lots of problems where, understandably, I can see why builders have had some issues with architects and designers. 

There can be some challenging industry professionals out there who don’t respect the value that builders offer, who don’t work well with builders, who are very dismissive and disrespectful of builders. 

Equally, there are builders who think that architects and designers aren’t necessary, that they like design, or that they can design. Ultimately, though, the training of both of these professions of designers and builders is entirely different for a very good reason. The process of building a home is very, very different from the process of designing a home. 

A much better solution for the homeowner is to get that collaboration working well and get the industry professionals doing the right jobs in the right way. 

The Role of Partnerships in Enhancing Business Outcomes


I must confess since we didn’t do it in the PAC Process and I’m so involved in the design stage, it has made me such a better builder. 

But stepping back, because we did it in the past, we would start jobs, and the designer or the architect would be done, they’d be paid, and the client would come to us with the plans, and we’d start the building. 

On-site, the client would want to move windows around or change the width of a hallway, and back in the day, I just thought nothing of it. I was like, well, it’s your home if you want it done, if you want to pay a variation, and you want us to make changes, then it is what it is. 

I can’t believe I used to do that because, knowing what I know now, designers and architects do everything for a reason. If a designer had a fantastic design brief, I’ve found by sitting in these meetings. They’re figuring out how clients live, their hobbies, and their families. Are they going to age in place? All these types of things. I don’t understand any of that. 

At the end of the day, I need to let the other professionals around me do their job and do it well. Ultimately, that ends up being my business card. 


The thing is that when homeowners go to look for professionals to work with, 

  • they’re looking at finished homes. 
  • They’re looking at photographs of finished homes. 
  • They’re looking at things online. 

So, those finished homes do become your business card as a builder. It becomes really important to think about what kind of business card you want and what you want those finished homes to look like. 

The other thing, too, is that you can build the most incredibly quality, fantastic home, but… 

  • if it’s poorly designed, 
  • if it’s expensive to heat and cool 
  • if it doesn’t work functionally, 
  • if it causes the homeowner daily frustration, 
  • they won’t remember how well it’s been built. They’ll just remember that they hate living there because everything gets in their way. 

You’ve seen this firsthand: a homeowner who has moved into their finished home can’t believe how well they get to live there because its design has transformed their everyday life experience. 

You’ve done a great job as a builder. That combination has meant that they are just blown away at what an incredible life they get to lead in this home. And then they go and tell their friends and family about it. They couldn’t even anticipate how amazing this could be for themselves. 


I must admit, I didn’t understand when it came to all that. And, like I said, sitting through these design meetings and building incredible relationships with designers and architects that we can collaborate and work together has just really enhanced my understanding of why things get done. 

The Impact of Excluding Design Professionals

We’ve had a few of our own experiences now, where we’ve done our projects and for builders out there that are smashing out jobs that haven’t got a designer architect involved. They are making changes on the job. 

There is far more behind why something’s been done. I honestly did not understand this for a second, even a kitchen living space, for example, how it all interacts, how it works. If someone is right into cooking, or they’ve got a busy family, or both parents… many different reasons can change the outcome for a designer or architect around why something gets designed. And a builder can stuff that up just like that. 


I’ve had this experience so many times when I practiced architecture and worked very closely with clients regularly, but I wasn’t hired the whole way through construction. 

So I would work up to the point of going with the builder, and then I would be available at an hourly rate for them to call me. And oftentimes, there would be a discussion on site with the builder where they would say, the builder had come to them and said, look, if we change this, it’ll be faster to build, or it’ll be cheap. It’ll cost less. What do you wanna do? 

And they would, of course, go, oh, okay, that sounds like a good thing. But they wouldn’t have understood that by changing that, that was gonna have this flow-on effect that then was going to impact something they cared about. 

The builder hadn’t understood that because they hadn’t been involved in understanding why that was there in that way and why it was a priority for them. 

The builder would make that change, and then they’d get to that point in the project, and all of a sudden, it would look the way that it was, and they’d be so disappointed. It would be like, well, it’s because nobody had understood what was going to happen, and at the end of the day, they’d ended up with something that actually just disappointed them long term. 

Getting these collaborations right is really important for me. One of the mistakes that often happens with creating these collaborations is, oftentimes, it can be, if you use us, we’ll use you. 

So, architects might contact builders and say, if we send jobs your way, you send jobs our way. And that’s NOT what collaboration looks like. 

You wanna create collaborations with professionals 

  • who respect what you do,
  • who respect and value the input and the contribution that you can make, 
  • who respect how you work and how you run your business, 
  • and are like-minded with the way that you do things and 
  • you get along as people because then you can create these fantastic relationships with like-minded professionals who can sell you into the process. 

So, if an architect is asked, do you know a builder? They know that you’re someone who cares about the work that they do, who cares about the designs that they do and also is going to help them be better. 

I’ve had such fantastic relationships with builders. I wouldn’t be the architect I am if it weren’t for builders who took me under their wing, who spurred me on, who challenged me, who had me stretch and justify and talk throug. 

I remember early in my career, I’d be designing things, and you’d show a builder, and they’d say, do you have any idea how much time that’s going to take me to build? And it was only through us being able to talk through things and understand I’d not been taught how to build a house in my architectural degree. 

Being able to say, okay, all right, but if we do this and this and this, yep, that will work. My design’s not compromised, and equally, they could then understand because they, as a builder, are not taught why designing for orientation is important or about all of the various aspects of flow and functionality and all of the things that we spend time learning. And so that beautiful professional camaraderie helps you both be better. 

Creating a Culture of Learning and Teamwork in Home Building


Collaboration is sitting down. It’s being involved in meetings. Like you said, it’s not picking up the phone saying, Hey, I’ve got a job over here. Do you want to share? I’ll give you this one. You send a client my way

It’s being involved. 

It’s creating a team. 

It’s sitting down at team meetings. 

It’s having phone conversations during the process. 

And it’s learning from each other. 

But many builders think the process is too hard because they’re trying to work with the wrong people. 

I got myself into this situation for a long time. I was trying to work with architects because I loved the house they were designing. I wanted to win the awards, too. And it just kept getting me in trouble. 

It wasn’t until I started finding designers and architects who were like-minded people to me and had similar interests and hobbies that we could connect on a deeper level. So, it wasn’t just about sitting around a table and discussing a client’s project. It was having a bit of a laugh every now and then, catching up for a beer here and there.

When you get that relationship, collaboration is incredible. 

  • It enhances your business. 
  • It becomes your business card. 
  • It becomes your marketing. 
  • You have the designer and the architect referring you. 


You get to enjoy the people you work with because you have that personal fit. You’re not working with somebody who doesn’t respect and value what you do. 


Yeah, so if you’re finding the collaboration process too difficult with designers and architects, I would suggest that you’re possibly working with the wrong people. 

Open your doors, start looking around, and try to introduce yourself to new people. 

If you’re interested in more insights on building successful partnerships, read our other blogs on home building collaborations to see how strong partnerships can transform your projects:

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