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Residential builders work hard for their incomes. Additionally, they assume a great deal of risk with every job they win. It is not an easy way to make a living. The current recession in the construction industry has made times even more difficult than usual. So it is not surprising that the ones who have survived the recent downturn have employed strategies that give them an edge over their competition. And while these strategies are generally legal and ethical, they are designed to advance the fortunes of the builder, often at the expense of there customers.
These strategies generally are aimed maximizing profit and reducing the competition. The builder wants to avoid having to bid against three or four other builders for every job he goes after. In those situations, not only does his odds of successfully winning the job diminish, but he knows he must lower his profit margin or shave his estimate in order to produce a competitive bid.
One of the common strategies is to offer something for free. Of course, we all know that in the end, you don't get anything for free, still, the offer is enticing. A builder may present himself as a design/builder, and tell prospective customers that he will not charge them for the design work provided he is the eventual builder. This leaves the customer with the impression that after the design work is completed, they will be able to “shop the plans” around and get bids from other builders for the actual construction. In the minds of the customer, this is how they intend to insure that the design/builder is giving them a fair price for the construction.
What the customers generally do not know is that once the builder has done the design work, he owns the design. It does not matter how much input was provided by the customer. That is to say, legally, he owns the copyright of that design. No one can build from that set of plans without that builder's permission. Other builders know this, so generally, they will simply refuse to bid a job that has been designed by the design/builder.
The trap is sprung. I have seen customers come to me with scrapbooks of clippings many inches thick of articles and fliers they have been collecting for years. They know what they want. They want all of those individual particulars in those clippings molded into one very personalized dream house. There maybe only one ultimate design that satisfies the customers many requirements, and once completed by the design/builder, the customer is faced with the realization that the only one who can build it is the one who designed it. And at his price.
This scenario is avoided when you call ARD first. Why? Because Karl takes the approach that the design should be created between the client and the designer without any ulterior motives. The rights to use the design for construction of the home are granted to the client in the Design Agreement signed by ARD prior to initiation of the design work. The client is free to have anyone they choose bid the job. Often, ARD can be of some assistance in the bidding process by providing the client with information when, as often is the case, the client encounters conflicting information between builders they are interviewing. With nearly 35 years of building experience himself, Karl can be a valuable resource in making that critical decision as to which builder is right for the job.
In summary, the traditional method of first hiring someone to create the design, and then inviting builders to bid the project has proven itself to be the best strategy for the prospective home owner.