FAQ 9.- Builders Free Drawings

1. FAQ question A Builder tells me that he can provide me with the drawings and the building works as a "one stop shop" and it will cost me nothing up front for the drawings, he will bundle it all in the price of Building Contract - so why should I pay for the drawings?
  FAQ answer

The offer by a Builder of "free drawings" is a common methods by which Builders "lock in" prospective clients into a contract, where the drawings are included in the price of the Building Contract including the cost of consultants as a "one stop shop arrangement";

"Why pay for the drawings - we will give these to you free " - The Builder may say.

If you believe that you are getting something worth thousand of dollars, which involve copyright issues and the complexities of the employment of multiple consultants - I believe you will be sadly disappointed with the reality.

Builders sometimes use the offer of a free "concept plan" to gain a foothold on the project - you can be sure of one thing, that if the concept plan provided is cost free, it is not free for you to use with anybody except that Builder - because he may hold legal ownership of such documents.

This might not be an issue at the beginning but it will become and issue when you try to get a competitive tender from another Builder for the proposed works - the unfortunate reality is that by then it will be to late.

2. FAQ question Can the Builder stop me getting another quote from a competitive Builder?
  FAQ answer

No, the "one stop shop" Builder cannot stop you from attempting to get another quote, he may actually say "you can get a quote from any Builder" - and this is true.


But the quote that you will obtain from other Builders will not be a "competitive one" mainly because other Builders will quickly surmise that the drawings are most likely the legal ownership (copyright) of the original Builder or the person that he/she has employed to do the drawings - they are certainly not you property to make use as you see fit.


"One stop shop" Builders do not produce drawings to aid their competitors to quote them out of a job!


By then you may even have paid a building deposit, and have obtained a full set of documents including consultants drawings,  and believe that you have ownership of the documents, but unfortunately this is not the case, the ownership of the drawings remains with the "one stop shop" Builder - what you most likely have paid for is a deposit to build but that does not give you ownership of the drawings.

Thus after a couple of clarifying questions the Builder which you are trying to get a second quote from will most likely tell you that he/she/they either "too busy to quote at the moment" or they may give you an inflated quote thus excluding themselves from the job.


This is because Builders are fully aware of copyright issues and do not want to get involved in an ownership dispute and will steer away from quoting on jobs that other Builders may claim copyright.


However you may remain under the impression that the quote you have received is competitive one, as you have no other way of judging the veracity of the prices before you. Regardless of the number of Builders whom you ask to quote, the process and the probable result will most likely be the same - and it is most likely that the "one stop shop" Builder will appear to be the lowest quote - you will be none the wiser.


If the markup on the Building costs for the drawings by the Builder is 15%or 20% to cover for the cost of the drawings, even on a a modest renovation of $200,00.00 this results in a $30,000 to $40,000 fee which is well above what you may pay to a reasonable Building Designer.

'The one stop shop' Builder generally will get you to sign up on what appear to be 'preliminary drawings' or 'concept drawings', "We do not need complicated drawings, we know how to build - we have been doing this for many years" is the general catch phrase, and he might add that the Building Drawings will be produced after you sign the contract.

This might well be true, however your contract is signed on drawings and written documents, not on the verbal promise of the Builder. Later on if you become unhappy with the process or the result, you will not have the final building drawings to support your argument, and you will have to rely on what "might have been said" between you and the Builder, and if clarifications to the drawings are required in a dispute the person that the Builder has employed to do the drawings is unlikely to take your side of the argument as he/she was employed by the Builder not by you. This can often lead to all sorts of misunderstanding and may require use of legal experts to resolve - not a cheap exercise and may be very stressful.

3. FAQ question I can get independent Building Estimator to value the cost of my project this would get me a price for the job?
  FAQ answer

However, what you get will not be a competitive quote.

If your 'one stop shop' Builder has produce final Building Drawings for you to get a good quote from an estimator you will need to pay about 1% to 2% or above of the project cost, and then you still will not have a competitive quote, this is because generally estimators (even Quantity Surveyors) generally price on "average" pricing from Building Cost Guides - these prices are generally above competitive prices and are not specific to your job, as every job is different.

A Builder that thinks that he/she has a chance of getting the job will give you a competitive quote, if you have chosen your Builders carefully and they want to do the job, your quote will be competitive and most likely within 10% of the other quotes.

You should have a list of about six builders that you have spoken to previously and from these six you should select three or four to quote on your job, then you may negotiate further to clarify any details with the winning Builder - you will then be assured that you have a competitive quote. (Also read FAQ 5 - 'The Builders Quote or Tender' for a further explanation on how to obtain a quote on your proposed works.)

4. FAQ question

The Builder design team have given me a concept drawing of my ideas for the new design of my premises, can I get an independent Building Designer to do the Town Planning and the Building Permit documents?

  FAQ answer

If you get a copyright release from the person that did the "concept drawings" and pay him the requested fee you may then get an independent Building Designer to do the the rest of the work. But even in this scenario you will find a degree of uneasiness from a prudent independent Building Designer, Drafts person or Architect, as changes from the original concept drawings (depending on their detail) can be challenged by the original Designer.

There is the "copyright law" and a law called the "moral rights law" that deals with the protection of original works by authors -(all building design drawings fall under this category) - this is best explained by your legal representative that deals in copyright law. Generally, the person that does the drawings for your proposed works is the author and automatically holds copyright to the drawings, and he or she has certain right in law which can be enforced. When you add an in-between party like a Builder it increases complexities and is often frustrating, time consuming and most likely, very costly.

5. FAQ question Why is it better for me to employ a Building Designer directly?
  FAQ answer

You should always employ a Building Designer to do your designs, especially if you are doing a new or residential addition, the reason is that Builders are responsible for Building the project, Building Designers are responsible for designing the project:

"Building designers design buildings" - that is why they are called "Building Designers" - although at first this might sound trite it is indeed a truism - employ the people that are experts in the field that you require services.

The primary function of the person that you employ to design your proposed work should be Building Design - if they need to derive their income from other areas there may be reasons why that is the case.

The area that you may need advice on is the productions of drawings for the Design, Town Planning and Building Documents, these are "default" products of this professional body.

You need advice on "Building Design" - the concept of "what fits where and why it fits there", these might be at first interpreted as spacial issue but when considered as a whole they form the concept of design in a three dimensional form hopefully with some aesthetic reference in context with your neighbourhood  and again hopefully resolving some of your living space requirements.

Then after an agreement of the of the desired designs is achieved - Drawings are produced to satisfy authorities like Planning and Building permits, generally with the aid of consultants like Structural and Civil Engineers, Land Surveyors, Planners Energy Consultants etc.

6. FAQ question

Is there any other reasons why I should avoid "the one stop shop" type solution like the Builder that offers "free drawings" or a "bundled deal" or the "Spec home volume builder"?

  FAQ answer

You should avoid the “one stop shop", “free drawings”, “no copyright “ and the “display home - volume builder" jargon at all cost – unless you want to pay a lot more and dramatically reduce your control of the whole process.

The whole point of having quality documentation is not only that it aids in building the building that you wanted, most Builders know how to do domestic construction, a good set of documents produced by an independent Building Designer aids in obtaining a competitive quote and the Building Designer works for you not the Builder, thus you retain control of all your consultants - you do not have to go through the Builder for further information on your drawings or consultants.

If you hold to the above principles you will reduce the cost of your “drawings” considerably, furthermore you will have access to all your consultants and you have ownership of the documents for that site.

The production and documentation of a building is something done in stages, start early to get a good result, and retain as much control of the cost as you possibly can, as soon as you get any "bundle deal" it means it will cost you more and you will have less control of the result.