The BEST Way To Build Your House

There Is A Better Way To Build

Remember last week, when I discussed the different ways to get your house built? We learned that fun phrase: project delivery method. Well there was one method I didn't talk about. IT'S THE BEST ONE. This delivery method is called... drumroll please... Collaborative Construction!

*You should at least skim my previous article on project delivery methods. It will help you understand why this one is special.

Technically, Collaborative Construction (CC) is a type of Construction Management in which the Manager acts as the Owner's Agent. HOWEVER, it differs in a few ways making it also very similar to Design/Build.

Collaborative Construction: the best way to build a house.


Back in February 2015 a fantastic contractor friend of mine, Theresa DeMarco, took me along with her to the International Builder's Show in Las Vegas. Aside from getting more time with T, which was amazing, I met two other people who turned out to be some of my favorite building industry pros. Dianne Sheridan, the most passionate lighting designer I've ever met, and Ed Earl, the Construction Management guru. 

One night, the four of us went to dinner. We were a cool-as-hell, mold-breaking, motley crew. Three vivacious ladies and one truely gentle gentleman. We talked for hours about the construction industry. What was awesome about it and what we wanted to change... I felt empowered sitting at the table with three other people who wanted to change people's lives for the better. Through construction! This was an architecture nerd's dream.

Two years later, the four of us still stay in touch. I continue to be amazed by the action they take to change our industry for the better. I'm sure I'll be talking more about them but right now, I have to tell you about Ed Earl's brain child: Collaborative Construction.

Collaborative Construction

(the BEST way to build your home)

This information is adapted from Ed's article "A Better Way to Build." Click here to download the original.

The Problem (the Common Building Process):

1) Architect and Homeowner design what the client wants but not what they can afford. 

2) Architect and Homeowner ask a few Contractors to bid the project. 

3) Contractor spends a huge amount of time compiling their bid. The Homeowner will likely pick the lowest bidder so the Contractor knows they need to be optimistic with the numbers. They cut their contingencies too thin. And the Homeowner is on a budget so they did not ask the Architect to provide technical specifications such as flooring type or what kind of toilet the Homeowner wants. Now, in order to create the lowest bid, the Contractor is going to make assumptions about ALL the specifications.

4) Construction begins and the change orders are flying. The Contractor needs more money for that water-efficient toilet the Homeowner wants. The Contractor didn't know the Homeowner wanted maple floors, they only budgeted for vinyl. The Contractor joined after design was finished, we can't expect them to know the Homeowner's preferences! Plus, by choosing the lowest bidder, the Homeowner has also chosen the most optimistic, unrealistic builder.

5) The Contractor, Architect, and Homeowner go on the defense, protecting their position and financial interests. One hopes this would happen in a civilized manner but, man, it can get dirty. 

6) The Homeowner gets disappointed. They have to cut back on some of the coolest aspects of their new home. Ed explains it perfectly, "It’s like test driving a Mercedes all day and then buying a Kia! They are never really going to be happy with the Kia because they didn’t get what they actually wanted to experience in a car"

BLARG! So frustrating. As Ed says, "All the parties involved can be great people with good intentions, but by the time they finish building a project using this process, they’re stressed and exhausted, with relationships permanently damaged. There is a better way."

If you know anything about building a house, you know this situation really happens. Common construction is fraught with negative emotions. 

The Solution (Collaborative Construction):

1) The Homeowner assembles their project team. They bring people on board in whatever order makes sense. Perhaps the Homeowner knows a Contractor who knows an Architect who knows a Project Manager who knows a Decorator...

*Some lower-budget projects cannot afford a Project Manager. In that case, the Homeowner should set aside many hours each week to act as Manager.

2) The Homeowner shows their budget to the project team. As team leader, the Project Manager manages project costs with input from all other members of the team.

3) The project team is allowed to collaborate through the entire design process. The Manager, Architect, and Contractor use their creativity and expertise to create the best design to meet the Homeowner's goals. Together, they specify all details including equipment, finishes, and fixtures. By the end of the design phase, all parties know exactly how this project should look and what it should cost.

4) The project gets constructed with very few surprises. When issues do arise the project team assembles to figure out the best solution. AND, because the Contractor was bidding from an informed position rather than a fearful one, the bid is correct! The home is finished on budget and on time. AND everyone still likes each other!

Imagine a building process based on trust instead of fear... And it's all within reach! Let me know if you want help building your CC project team. There are some amazing people out there. (760) 822-6417

*If you want to know more about Ed Earl, check out his website, The Zen Builder. Or contact him at or 858-232-3677. Ed is a Construction Project Manager as well as public speaker. He's excellent at his job and a really wonderful person, to boot.

*If you want to know more about Theresa and/or Dianne, let me know! Theresa builds very large multi-unit apartment buildings. Dianne designs lighting for medium to luxury sized homes. I can't recommend them highly enough.