Should you hire a builder or an architect first?

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If you are considering a home build in Singapore, you are probably thinking about whom to hire first – a builder or an architect? Like most homeowners, you may only get a chance to build your home once, so you want to get everything right and ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. However, the answer to whom to hire first is not straightforward. It is important to weigh upon the pros and cons of hiring a builder or an architect first to help make a better choice for yourself.

Hiring an Architect First – Pros & Cons


  • Professional architects in Singapore have decades of experience in the construction industry and can draw upon ideas and lessons from their previous projects. Their industry knowledge of the current building trends, along with the best practices, ensure their ability to transform your dream design into reality.
  • Experienced architects will take into consideration lifestyles and hobbies and will incorporate an architectural design that will be based on the owners’ requirements and more.
  • Knowledge of varied materials in the market enables the architects to suggest the best and the most appropriate material depending on the functionality, proportion, and budget. They can also act as your quantity surveyor to ensure the exact materials specified are used in the construction process.
  • Architects prepare detailed and accurate drawings that help reduce cost significantly due to the elimination of design errors. Modern technologies allow them to have better control on designing, building, and presentation of architectural projects allowing precise estimation of project costs.
  • Architects can handle tenders of qualified builders on your behalf and ensure a fair selection of the builder without any bias. They also check for the accuracy of implementation of design throughout the construction process.
  • Architects are professionals and registered to submit to Authorities to obtain all permits for your project. They know the various Singapore government regulations as stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Building Construction Authority, thus making your life smoother and easier.


  • A longer initial design process may be required with Architects. Architects need to have all the pieces in place before the project can go to tender and construction. This is to ensure work can start smoothly without any hiccups. Thus, it is important to have a timeline established in advance and expect certain variations to ensure great work in the end.
  • Each architect will have a particular design style that is unique like their signature. You need to be comfortable with the style that will come to life in your construction project. One way is to ask to see their portfolio of works. It is also good to show the architect pictures of works you like so as to ascertain if they are able to do what suits you. Of course, you will also need to be comfortable with the architect’s style and way of administering project since it is a 1-2 year working commitment.
  • You will need to allocate professional fees for the architect and his/her consultant team. The fees generally only makes up a fraction of the overall construction budget that you will set aside for your project.

Hiring a Builder First – Pros & Cons


  • Hiring a builder first is your best choice for projects with tight timelines. It allows you to enter the construction phase pretty quickly and get the project completed quickly.
  • When your builder knows your budget parameters, they can provide an up-front cost estimate for executing your project design. It may lead to important specifications left off the plans if they do not fit into the budget during the construction process.


  • Singapore builders provide upfront costs for their projects, but in reality, the costs most often go up as there is no accurate drawing before they begin working.
  • A lot of builders have architects on their team, and the homeowners pay for their services indirectly. However, the homeowners do not have any direct contact with them or cannot communicate with them freely.
  • Builders often provide low bids to get them through the door knowing the homeowners will not want to switch halfway through the process when the construction has started.
  • Some builders may use low-quality materials and not the ones specified by the architects to help lower their costs. There is no way for the owner to know which materials or finishes the designers have picked.
  • Builders often do not discuss the budget in advance, which puts you at risk of finding your project is going over budget. At this point, you need to make difficult changes to your project or accept higher costs.
  • Builder may not be fully familiar with the Singaporean authority issues, and it can put your entire project at risk. Furthermore, they may not provide full updates on clearances so you may be kept in the dark.

Why Should You Hire Both an Architect and a Builder?

Both builders and architects work in the same industry but fulfill different needs during the construction process. An architect envisions a design that meets your requirements, ensures it meets regulatory requirements and provides detailed instructions on building it. On the other hand, a builder takes those designs and provides the material and labor needed to construct the dream.

You will notice that the roles of an architect and a builder are becoming quite blurry. You need to find an architect and a builder who can collaborate as a team rather than hiring solo performers. People are discovering the value of hiring both of them in early design and planning.

In Conclusion

When you are ready to start your building project, we suggest hiring an architect first, followed quickly by a builder. Excellent communication and good working relationships are the keys to successful results.

ADX Architects is happy to provide you with design consultation without any fast commitment to pick us as your eventual builders. We want to provide you with professional advice as early as possible to ensure you get a design that aligns with your needs and your budget perfectly.

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