Just like the proverbial “chicken and egg” question, “Which comes first?” is a question that confuses some people, but must be answered before you start the custom, homebuilding process. While the answer may seem obvious, it’s important to know the right answer in order to avoid problems from the beginning. The designer comes before the builder, right?

Wrong! Read on…

Sometimes people get the cart before the horse and in all the excitement, they get ahead of themselves. Mike and Janine thought they had done it all right. They had a roll of plans tucked under their arms, a sparkle in their eyes, and a skip in their steps because they knew they had something very special—they had the plans to their dream home.

During the last several months, Mike and Janine had spent countless hours dreaming about their new home and holding meetings with their designer. They went through revision after revision pouring over the plans until late in the evenings. The couple worked tirelessly to make every room just right—put the baby’s room here, move the daughter’s room there, make that closet just a bit wider, add two feet to the kitchen—giving instruction upon instruction to their designer about each room.

Their dream home included the newest ideas from This Old House, the latest trends in low voltage lighting, and cutting-edge insulation that could lower energy bills by up to 90 percent. It had a cabana like the one they saw while vacationing in Acapulco, layers upon layers of moldings, extra tall ceilings, an additional bay in the garage, a steeper roof that was changed—not twice, but three times—because their friends told them it looked too shallow.


Mike and Janine were now ready to find a builder. They were so excited! Janine was bubbling over with her plans—holiday decorations, birthday parties, and dinners with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma. They had their finished plans and they were now ready to build. They could see it; they could taste it; they could hear the sounds of laughter around the table.

And then the moment of truth arrived.

They were ready to talk to a builder and get him started on their new house. But here was the problem: the actual cost to build this house—the house they had labored over for so many hours, over so many months—ended up costing 40 percent more to build than they expected.

How did this happen? Well—they asked the designer and he gave them his estimate of what it would cost. That’s what they based their plans on. The designer’s estimate.

And that is the problem. The designer is not trained in doing cost estimates. This news was so devastating to them that Mike and Janine just rolled up their plans, walked out the door, and… sold their lot.

Their dreams had been shattered and they were crushed. After all their initial efforts, they couldn’t gather the energy to start the process all over again. But it could have been different. If only this enthusiastic couple had known the importance of which comes first: the builder, not the designer.

If you’re in this predicament and you’re unwilling to sell your lot, stay tuned to discover what happens next to Jim and Linda.


Meet with your builder and discuss your budget before you meet with a designer.


Contact us today to start building your next home!