Bidding Approach vs Team Approach

I partook in a discussion on Houzz pertaining to a question someone posted asking if he should hire the interior designer first or the architect. Although many opined differently the one thing most were in agreement with was to hire a team consisting of architect, interior designer and contractor. This discussion made me think back to an article that I wrote several years ago. I’d like to share that article with you. I hope you find it informative and please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.

 Bidding Approach vs Team Approach

Being in the construction / design industry for over 30 years we are often asked to competitively bid on a job based on a set of finished plans. Many homeowners use the “bidding approach” as a way to get a feeling of what the cost of construction will be and also to get the best price. But is this the best way to go about it?


teamAt Sandella Custom Homes and Interiors we prefer to take a different approach, called the team approach. We have devised a team consisting of an architectural designer, builder, interior designer and of course the client. Having a team of professionals working together for you, from the beginning, designing per building site, established budget, life style and overall design goal is a better approach. The “team approach” has proven beneficial for our clients. It is the most efficient way to perform a custom home build and the least costly regarding time and money.

So why do some homeowner’s continue to use the bidding approach? Many professional architects believe in the “team approach” because they have seen the true benefits involved. But others don’t support it and instead advocate the “bidding approach”. These architects should be asked this very question….How many of your home designs have your clients NEVER built?  Based on what we’ve seen, it’s a high percentage. Even the very best architects can lack the knowledge of what the construction costs really are, which result in a design that is more costly to build than what the client expects…in other words the project has been “over designed”.

With a builder and interior designer involved from the onset, we can advise our clients during the design phase, what the cost will be along the way, helping them make informed design decisions based on their established budget and not someone else’s.

With the bidding approach, when the initial bid comes in too high the first reaction of a homeowner is to bid it again and again until they can find the “lowest bidder”. However, many times this can never be achieved because the house was “over designed” in the first place, therefore causing the home to never be built. Other times the client chooses the lowest bidder, which most often ends up costing as much or more than what the initial bidder quoted for the completed project. In addition, the quality of the finished work can be sub-standard and the homeowners expectations disappointing.


Is the lowest bidder really the lowest bidder in the end? It may make sense on paper, but if the bid was based on a set of plans where specifications weren’t clear or fraught with errors, then it isn’t the best way.

So why is the bidding approach dreadful and confusing? Competitive bids are not usually “apples to apples”. One builder may bid granite countertops in a grade 3 while another builder could bid the lowest grade just to get the number down even while knowing you wouldn’t want the lowest grade of granite. Dry wall texture can be another example; most custom homes offer a smoother finish, which cost more, the lowest bidder can quote a texture which cost less. You won’t know about these lower priced line items until it comes time for the work to be performed. Then in order for you to get what you want, the lowest bidder will charge you for a change order that will therefore cost you more money in the end. These are just a few examples but many exist on a cost sheet when specifications aren’t clear. Also, builders are calculating the bid based on their level of service and quality. Many lack professionalism, communication and integrity; they don’t spend the necessary time with their clients or on a job site so they can charge less. They can also under-bid knowing that they can make up the difference later with upgrades and change orders.

In our 30+ years of building custom homes, we have rarely seen a set of plans and specifications that are of adequate detail and clarity for clients to truly obtain comparable pricing. Even if a good architect specifies specific materials they still don’t know the best value options for materials as a builder would.

When you hire our team, we can identify early on where the budget is going. We also have the ability to provide material and product recommendations, from the interior designer, for the architect to ensure a quality finished project. Many architects welcome our involvement because we can provide them with the product, material and detail specifications that can be entered into the drawings early on, so we are all on the same page and can obtain adequate pricing from our sub contractors. There is no guessing, low ball bidding or quality being compromised. The plans are being quoted based on the features, amenities and selections you made with our design team.

Also, many “lowest bidders” bid so low that they are forced to abandon the job because they can’t make a profit. Others put you on the back burner because they are working on another job where they’re able to make more money. Unfortunately, a big problem in the construction industry is builders not knowing how to properly price a job therefore creating a lack of profitability to run a business properly or even stay in business for the long haul. The truth is when a value-conscious consumer accepts the lowest bid it practically ensures a sub-standard finished project – if the project can ever even reach completion.

Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get.”

At Sandella Custom Homes and Interiors we feel the best approach is to choose your team up front. The team will understand your goals and work together collaborating throughout the design phase to ensure that the plans are complete, in line with the overall design program and established budget.

The “team approach” has the client and builder working together in harmony from the beginning to reach the desired goals. The client is now comfortable working with the builder, knowing first-hand how they communicate, how their personalities mesh and the integrity of the company, which is so important. They can see the service they’re receiving and the value for their money, while building trust in the team and the process. This type of “trusting” relationship eases everyone and makes for a smooth building experience, rather than moving forward with a builder you briefly met during the bidding process.


At Sandella Custom Home & Interiors we provide you with a fair price and a superb building experience. We welcome and look forward to long lasting relationships with our clients.



Contact Cheryl at for more information.


With Sandella you’ll have ONE point of Contact from Concept to Completion for your Convenience!


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