House Design – Finding a designer

To make it simple you have two choices when it comes to designing a house. You can start with a completely blank canvas or you can chose a base design and modify it to your specifications. Depending on which approach you choose you can go to a designer/architect and discuss your ideas and specifications and let them be creative and design you a house from scratch, or you can go to a specialist package build company who will take a standard design and modify it for your needs.

Package Build Companies or Freelance Designers / Architects?

package build company of freelance architect
There are a few things to understand here, and all is not what it seems. Package build companies on the surface seem a safe and easy option. You can choose and therefore see what you are getting before you pay, and you get a total end price up front rather that an ever changing (aka ever growing) estimate as the process evolves. Everything is sorted for you and can relax as the package build company takes care of things. Also, choosing a package build company is much less involving, you can browse websites and take your time choosing a company to represent you, while if you had to hire your own freelance designer you would need to talk to people, get recommendations, negotiate prices etc., which is a lot more personal and involved.

You can compare package build companies to travel agencies / package holidays. If you wanted a scuba diving experience you can buy a package deal that includes flights, hotels, insurance, scuba lessons & excursions, and maybe even food & drink. So the same can be said of designing a house, you let the package build company sort and arrange all the design work for you with no real interaction with architects etc. However, once you go through the process once, whether it be a package holiday or a package build, you will probably see that you could sort out the individual bits yourself and potentially save money in the process, but for beginners letting a company take care of things for you is a safer and easier option.


Because there is a middle man in the process, paying a package build company will be more expensive. They will use their database of contacts to do the design work, thus for everyone to make money costs to you will be higher. The thing you need to weigh up though is if this is worth it to you, with less stress and less work on your side in terms of hiring your own freelance designer/architect. Hiring your own personal freelance designer will be cheaper in most cases, so if cash is tight you may want to go down this route. You can make a good choice but this can take more effort because to be sure you get a good designer you will want to see photos of past work, references, quotes etc.

I mentioned that things may not be as they seem with a package build company, because while knowing what your house will look like and how much it will cost up front is a positive for a lot of us, in reality the vast majority of building plots available today are complicated, meaning designs have to be modified significantly to meet both the limitations of the plot and also your design ideas. Quite often an ‘off-the-peg’ house will actually need to be designed from scratch, and the reason you choose the package build company is for the security of a big company handling things for you rather than searching, hiring, and working with your own freelance designer.


There are many analogies that we can use when comparing a package build company to a freelance designer/architect. It is like buying a package holiday instead of organising the separate components by yourself, or it’s like hiring a wedding planner compared to arranging everything yourself. It can even by like crawling the red light district in Amsterdam compared to going on a blind date. OK, I’ll expand on this last one.

If you are looking for a good time you could walk up and down the red light district (I’m not advocating this practice by the way) and see what’s on offer and either choose someone you like or walk away. You don’t need to interact with anyone and it’s pretty impersonal. Plus you pretty much know what you are getting before you commit. However, if you want to build up a relationship with someone and only after you are 100% satisfied they are the right person for you this takes a lot more work. You could go on a blind date, chat, find out more information about the person, see how they look, and only after a connection is formed do you move on to the next stage. The latter takes a lot more effort but in then end you may well get a better deal out of it.

Ultimately whether you go for a package build company or a freelance designer/architect is entirely up to you and each has their own benefits, whether it be security or price.

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