Builder Gambit

Builder Gambit

Builder Gambit is about how some Unlicensed Builders (as distinguished from Licensed reputable General Contractors) can mislead Clients.

Once in a while, there are some naive Clients who listen a bit too much to unlicensed Builders who do not have the depth of knowledge and experience that a Licensed Architect and Licensed General Contractor have.  These unlicensed Builders can divert an unsuspecting Client away from dealing with an Architect and licensed General Contractor and talk the Client into taking another problematic route on the path to their hoped-for dream house.  This can lead to that dream becoming a nightmare.

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This can result in economic damage, lost time, a substandard house with structural flaws, leaks, mold, rot and other dangerous conditions.  These unscrupulous “Builders” really don’t want you talking to more knowledgeable professionals.  Why?  Because those licensed Architects will quickly find fault with the inappropriate suggestions and code violations that typically run rampant through “builder” houses.  “Building Code?  We don’t need no stinking Building Code,”  such a builder might say.  And with good reason: they don’t know what is contained in the Code and don’t care.  All they want is your money, as fast as they can get it.


However, some naive Clients become concerned about the cost to build their dream house and so, they ask around about what it might cost to build (rather than employing their Architect to properly bid it out for them in a controlled, professional situation, which would typically yield more reliable results).  This is the possible door through which the unlicensed rascal (“builder”) enters and begins to cause his/her harm to the Client: through bad advice.  The first thing they do is to tell you what you want to hear.  Not the truth, but only what you want to hear.  “Cheaper?  Sure.  Yup.  I can do that.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper.  And I mean cheap.  You don’t need all this other stuff the Architect says or the licensed Contractor said you need.  Me and Rufus know how to build yer house real good.  We’ll use smooth shank pot metal 10-penny nails; that’s how we always built my Uncle Bob’s chicken coops down in Georgia.  Worked jest fine.  Might rust and fall apart in a few years, but I’ll be long-gone by then.  Duh-yup.  And we don’t need that much insulation.  That’s a waste; we’ll put in much less and save you some real cash.  Yesiree (not mentioning how with escalating energy costs you will pay through the nose every month when you pay your electrical bill).” 













What’s that?  You think that your local Building Department will make sure that Rufus and his couple of helpers will make sure that your house will be properly built?  Don’t count on that.  Ever see a County Building Inspector make an inspection?  Tag along sometime; if you can; it might surprise you.  Often, such personnel are political appointees, not selected based on skills, degrees and almost never are licensed to do anything.  They often operate by the seat of their pants, doing things “the way we’ve always done it,” and often their inspection consists of a drive-by from the street.  Sure, there are exceptions to this, sometimes with licensed, conscientious pros, but not always.  It’s often pot-luck: you don’t know who’s going to “inspect” your house.  And they don’t insure that anyone is going to follow your “plans.”  They are Not paid to do that.  At best, all they care about is that you hopefully might meet certain minimum requirements (that are typically 3 to 9 years behind the latest code edition).  Don’t think that your “great deal” will result in having it built with the best means possible; it won’t.


What’s the big deal?  You might ask.  It’s only a house.
Let’s review that phrase you just said/thought: “ONLY a house?”
Really?  As in YOUR house?  And it’s going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, whether Rufus and his rag-tag band of ne’er-do-wells build it or others.  Would you like to rephrase your estimation of it being “only” a house?

















How about this: it is MY house and I want the best, most professional licensed people in the world designing it (Architects) and the most skilled professional labor building it (licensed General Contractors) BECAUSE it is costing me HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars!  I want it done correctly!  I want it energy efficient!  I want it to be durable.  I never want to see a leak.  I don’t want any mold; I want a healthy house.  I want it beautiful.  I want it to be tailored to my lifestyle and land, so that it fits what I want to do, that it is comfortable and lifts my spirits, every day, just by living here.

That’s what Home Architects ® are talking about.

Usually what the unlicensed builders tell a naive Client is that they can build their dream house for much less than anyone else and they know how to “cut costs” magically to result in the dream house being constructed for pennies on the dollar.  Think about that. Does that sound realistic?  What an Architect includes in the design does quite a few nice things for you:

1.  Looks sensational. 
That sort of artistic skill doesn’t come easy or without decades of experience.  In other words: what an Architect designs for you will look a lot better than anything else.

2.  Energy Efficient.
Architects perform research to become aware of the most energy efficient types of insulation, how to shade your walls, windows and doors, the latest hot water heating systems and many other features to result in you obtaining the greatest bang for your buck in terms of heating and cooling your house.  No one else is as interested.  Except perhaps the person that pays for their energy consumption: you.











3.  Durability.
Your Architect understands how to detail conditions, specify materials and arrange elements so that your new house will last longer and with fewer problems and lower maintenance.  No one else will be as concerned about these things.  Once again, except for the person that pays for that maintenance: you.
What sort of things?  Like your Architect specifying that all exterior structural wood shall be pressure-treated and that stainless steel or galvanized ring-shank nails shall be used.  Why: because they last much, much longer and stay in place.  Just one of the features that Architects care about.




4.  Fiduciary Relationship.
Your Architect, by law, by virtue of his/her license, is required to help protect their Client’s HS&W (Health, Safety & Welfare).  No one else is required to do that, except perhaps for your Physician and Attorney.  You want an Architect in your corner, acting to help you obtain the best house possible.  There is a higher standard at which Architects operate.  No one else in the house design and construction industry has your best interests at heart like your Architect.


 5.  Structural Superiority.
Most Architects want a licensed Structural Engineer involved with their projects.  However, highly experienced Architects of houses already have a tremendous amount of knowledge of what constitutes a solid structural arrangement.  But they also coordinate with Engineers to help protect your house against environmental forces, like seismic (earthquake) and wind, to help preserve your investment in your house and protect you and your family during storms.  (tell that to the countless thousands whom have died or been injured when their non-Architect design houses have fallen down on them during the increasingly more severe storms these days).


And many other reasons.


Note to self: stay away from so-called Builders who try to talk you out of proceeding with your Architect.  You want a higher level of education, experience and real-world knowledge working in your best interests.  You’ll be glad you did.


And do you want to know the result of many Builder houses?  By the time they are done, you will have spent every penny you would have on the properly designed house, created by your Architect and built by a licensed General Contractor.  One of the biggest dirty tricks employed by the “builders” is to over promise and under-deliver.  Especially in terms of the value they bring.  They constantly forget things, since they aren’t professional and they then tell you “that’ll be extry.  I didn’t have that in my quote to you.”  And because their quote wasn’t based on a good set of comprehensive documents, you won’t have a leg to stand on.  So: in the end you won’t have quality and you’ll pay just as much, for an inferior product that will have poor maintenance, might fall apart, leak, rot and mold around you.


This architectural firm has actually seen, first hand, some of these scoundrels tell them, right to their face: “I don’t want an Architect involved: I don’t want anyone watching what I’m doing.  If I want to cheapen something to save me money, then I will and I don’t want anyone catching me and telling the owners.”  Amazing that some of these people can be so brazen.


Do yourself a favor: go to an Architect first.  Have them design your dream house and allow them to complete ALL of their documents, through CDs (Construction Documents).  Then pay them to Bid out the project to only licensed General Contractors.  Then have one of those licensed GCs (General Contractors) build your dream house.  You’ll be glad you did.  You’ll get that custom design you wanted and better energy performance and lower maintenance.  And you will experience the joy of home ownership, possessing a piece of art in which you live. 






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