Houston Home Building; 3 Different Design – Construction Methods

10:26 Apr 2023
Houston Home Building

The Houston home building mission is a long challenging process that results in a deserved rewarding outcome representing your personal lifestyle and successes. Houston home building is an exclusive club that has a very limited membership that enjoys the opportunity to follow its dream.

Designing and undertaking a Houston home building journey is a unique and rare opportunity for most aspirating owners. Most owners that have either experienced or researched the journey of building their own custom home understand that this is important to have a trusted advisor to guide them through the entire process.

The second important factor that someone that has built a house would share with you is that the entire process from design through construction completion can often take more than 2 years. The timeline stresses the importance of carefully selecting the best house build delivery method for your needs.

This lengthy timeline is taxing on both the owner’s patience and ability to contribute to the design process, product selections, and house construction decisions. During this journey, there are many highs and lows. This is due to the emotional nature of the Houston home building process.

Designing and building a one-of-kind house is a privilege that financially secure and successful owners enjoy. It requires sufficient financial resources that need to be discussed with your builder, planned for during design, and monitored during construction.

In addition, the owner must have a clear understanding of their lifestyle and how their family’s personal needs can be fulfilled to provide the direction that is necessary to make all of the decisions. The ability of the owner to communicate these priorities to the design team is critical to the process to incorporate into the house designs.

One of the first and most important decisions the owner will need to make is which house building delivery process they will choose to use in achieving their Houston home building goals. The following will be a summary of the alternative methods including their advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Discussion of the Details of the 3 Different Home Construction Delivery Methods

Houston Home Building

Traditional Design to Bid Approach

The traditional method of building a home is that the owners purchase a lot, hire an architect to draw house plans, and submit those plans for competitive bids to a small group (usually 3) of custom home builders. 

This method of house delivery for the custom home building has been conventionally favored because owners felt that this was the most efficient method of obtaining the best price to build their house.

Although the design to bid approach does provide competitive bid alternatives, by no means that it ensures the owner of receiving the best price to build a house. This process does not provide for value engineering unless the owner requests this service after the design process is complete.

In addition, the need to value engineer will usually lead to longer delays resulting from the need to redesign if bid amounts are substantially over budget. Ultimately the most significant disadvantage is that this process does not protect the client if there are construction drawing omissions or mistakes.

Design to Bid Process Summary

  • Locate and Secure a Building Site It all begins with selecting a building site. The house footprint is designed with the lot orientation in mind. Soil samples, tree preservation, setback restrictions, and drainage are the primary concerns to address.
  • Develop a Budget and Home Design Theme Defining your construction budget is the next order of business. Your architect will require some direction in both budget range and design theme.
  • Hire an Architect to Design Home With your design theme in mind and your budget range defined it is time to hire your house plan designer. You will need to rely on your architect to design to your needs and lifestyle but to maintain fiscal responsibility to the budget.
  • Interview and Select Custom Home Builders to Bid After the plans have been completed and approved you will need to request a small carefully selected group to bid the documents. You should already have two or three general contractors already vetted so you can swiftly move to a request for proposal.
  • Value Engineer and Redesign to Meet Budget It is not uncommon that the bids from your reputable general contractors will have to be valued engineered, redrawn, and rebid to conform to your budget guidelines.
  • Hire Custom Home Builder  Once the owner is satisfied with the plans and budget, you can negotiate terms and conditions, sign a contract, and submit for a building permit.
  • Custom Home Building Process With permit and approved documents in hand and a GC commissioned to build your Houston custom home, it’s time to complete your product selections and commence with the required building site reviews and site visits.

Design to Build Approach

The design to build approach is a collaborative effort that also involves the architect, general contractor, and client. The owner defines their needs, and desires and communicates to the design team. The architect and general contractor work together to produce a house that fits the client’s architectural, construction, and financial needs.

The architect then draws these ideas developing the client’s visions into house plans. The role of the custom home builder during the design phase is to balance the client’s needs and wants with the cost and buildability of the project deliverables. Through the collaboration of the architect and builder, they develop the most efficient design to construct. 

Design to build construction is an effective process to reduce time, and construction costs and provide the owner with control over the entire building experience. This method saves time by eliminating steps in the delivery development process. The construction cost is reduced through the design build process rather than after the plans are completed through the value engineering step.

This house delivery method serves the owner’s interest by saving redesign costs, reducing project time, and reducing the owner’s frustration with the pre-construction process.

One of the most positive benefits for the owner is budget control. Due to the design build a collaboration of the builder and architect, there is a pricing function conducted after preliminary drawings are accepted to confirm the plan is in compliance with the budget.

Another distinctive advantage of this method is that the owner remains in full control throughout the design and preconstruction process. This is the result of being directly in control of building design and construction cost at all times of the house building experience.

Design to Build Process Summary

  • Interview & Hire Design Build General Contractor You will notice that the significant difference in the two approaches is that you are hiring your contractor first in the approach. A GC will act as your trusted adviser and advocate throughout the design and construction of your house.
  • Locate and Secure a Building Site Although you may have already identified a new home site, it is wise to get your GC involved in the evolution and final approval to purchase. They can also be helpful in the negotiations of the lot purchase.
  • Develop Home Design Criteria and Budget  With the guidance of your custom home builder, you will develop the home design theme and discuss the conceptual budget costs associated with the design. These discussions will lead to identifying the best architect and engineer to collaborate with.
  • Develop Design Build Team The general contractor commissions the members of the design team. He will facilitate the hiring of the required design team. This is usually an architect and a structural engineer. As the client’s needs require, the team may also include an interior decorator and landscape architect.
  • Design Home Process The actual design of the custom home is similar to the process of the design to bid process. It begins with the hand sketches of a concept drawing and moves to preliminary drawings. The final step in home plan designs is to create the working drawings. As the owners approve the preliminary plans the GC confirms the construction budget by providing a detailed schedule of values.
  • Custom Home Building Process There is little difference in the actual building of the custom home between the two approaches. The difference is in the GC is responsible for the cost of design omissions and errors. Under the design to bid method, the owner pays for architectural errors and omissions. Since your house builder is a single source in this approach, the GC would be responsible for errors and omissions.

Home Building & Design Houston

The Construction Management Approach for the Owner Builder

The owner builder house delivery method is when an owner assumes the risks associated with having house plans prepared with the intent of building their own dwelling.

Historically speaking without proper guidance, this approach will likely result in greater expense and more complications than the use of a builder, unless the owner has the required special skills to facilitate such an achievement.

If an owner is committed to the owner builder method, they may want to consider hiring a construction management firm to provide guidance and leadership to the owner’s house building effort.

The approach is a process of hiring a competent construction firm to provide quality control and work site management over the construction process.

If the owner wants a professional firm to facilitate the offsite administration tasks like subcontractor bids, accounts payables, and cost control, they can hire a project management firm.

It is essential that when you are ready to build the house you consider which of these approaches best serves your risk aversion and service needs before you select a house construction delivery method.


Regardless of which Houston home building method you select, it is important to understand the methods available to the owner. The decision to select a specified house building approach needs to be made early in the planning process.

Once the owner selects the best home building delivery method for their needs, they can focus on assembling the home building team to execute their project. It is through these methods that if the owner works closely with their advisors that they will realize the best results.

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