Architect or volume home builder?

When to use an architect vs a volume home builder? Great question.

It’s no secret that a bespoke house is typically more expensive than a generic volume-built home. Yes, volume-built homes are a great option for some sites and homeowners, and we absolutely support their role in our Australian housing supply chain; however, not all situations benefit from this approach.

So, the question is, how and when do you choose between an architect-designed custom home and a volume home build?

Below are six situations where an architect would provide significant advantages over a volume home builder.

1. When you have a sloping or challenging site
The moment a sloping site cannot be cut and levelled at an affordable rate, a volume home build will become less financially beneficial.

Further, volume-built designs are not site-specific: they are by nature generic, which may mean valuable opportunities are missed, particularly on smaller sloping sites where the house design needs to work extra hard.

2. When you want a customised design or have specific requirements
Any time specific needs and requirements demand a custom design, a volume home design will always be left wanting. While minor tweaks and changes are often accommodated by volume home builders, significant alterations come at a substantial cost, while also not completely addressing the requirements like an architect-designed custom home would.

3. When you have views or other site benefits you want to maximise
The nature of volume build designs is that they have a one-size-fits-many approach. The designs do not consider site-specific opportunities. When there are specific site features or views to capture, an architect-designed home is the best option. Being able to thoroughly understand and appreciate the opportunities presented by the site, the architect will be able to develop a design that responds to these and utilises them to their fullest. For example, a sloping site leading down to a stunning countryside or water view that requires careful consideration will achieve superior results from a custom design.

4. When you have a constrained site with physical restrictions or overlays
As with site opportunities, when site constraints are present, an architect is able to understand these and design a considered response. Owners are often surprised at what can be achieved on their awkward or seemingly limited site, when the design is approached by a creative architect. It is often the most constrained sites that result in the most interesting and exciting home designs.

5. When a planning permit is required
Typically, volume home builders would shy away from sites requiring a planning permit, simply due to the unknowns of the process, and the additional costs and uncertainty. It is in these scenarios where architects are invaluable. With thorough knowledge of the planning permit process, an architect can provide guidance through this requirement, with which home-owners often have no experience.

6. When you want to build your dream home
When a client has a specific design intent or is looking to create their dream home, it is best achieved in collaboration with an architect. Whenever a home is intended to be lived in for a long period of time, it is always worth the investment. The architect will design your home with your design ideas, desires and dreams at the forefront, to create the perfect home just for you.

Building a new home offers a unique opportunity – a blank slate for you to fill with the design elements you love. With volume home designs, only a set number of facades and design options are available. If none of these choices provide the look you want, you may end up dissatisfied with the result. Long term, this can lead to regret and either expensive rectification works or moving on from the home earlier than you intended. Any money saved during the initial build will quickly disappear!

Because an Architect designs a house to suit you – and not the other way around – you will end up with a home you are much happier with for many years to come.

Thinking about a custom home build? Get in touch with the team at Thextonsmith for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your ideas and we can help you get started on your journey. We’re approachable, knowledgeable and passionate about what we do. We will provide excellent value to your home build project with a custom home design incorporating your dreams and desires to suit your site – and your lifestyle – perfectly.

Peruse examples of our architectural work through the link below.