Design; How It Can Work


I just returned from our semiannual Builder 20 meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.  Builder 20 is a club of 17 custom builders from all over the United States who meet twice a year ; we share information, systems and procedures.  A topic we revisit year after year is design.

Volumes have been written about the pursuit of good design.

Steve Jobs famously relentlessly pursued it and perhaps understood it better than anyone.

“People think that it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told; “Make this look good”.  That’s not what we think design is.  It’s not just what it looks like and feels like.  Design is how it works.” …….Steve Jobs

The old adage form vs. function—is that it?  Form without function isn’t good design nor is function without form.  If it looks great but it doesn’t work, what’s the use?  This is at the heart of the design/build philosophy of project delivery.


We use them both on every home.

The Jurassic method of employing the architect to oversee the builder is woefully inadequate.  People think that with modern technology that method of project delivery would be extremely efficient.  Not even close!  Technology has rapidly advanced construction materials and methods at a pace beyond what the architect and builder can master, much less separately.  Now we have the rapid adoption of BIM (Building Information Modeling) added to the equation.  Here is the problem the architect and builder are not on the same page.  Architects are concerned about their reputation and getting the project through permitting; more importantly they assume no risk.  The builder is concerned with his reputation, putting the project together on budget and he has most of the risk and the client assumes the rest of the risk.

With the true design/build firm this basic conflict is removed.  When the designer and builder are one the client wins.  The home is not designed and built by committee; the same people who worked with the client to design it are actually building it.  The resulting home has both form and function; it not only looks great but it works great—-Steve Jobs would be pleased.