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Thorne Group


8 key things to consider before embarking on a design project

It’s all about the journey …

There is a commonly used phrase that “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. The bitterness of a poorly managed build journey is sadly what, for many people, taints the enjoyment of moving into their new home.

We have lost track of the number of times clients have approached us after having been on a design journey only to find that they have had to go back to the drawing board once engaging a builder for pricing.

This year (2022) marks fifteen years for Thorne Group Homes as a Master Builder. Over this time we have gained some great insight into how clients can save both time and money with a unique “architectural design and build service”. It was this vision that led to the establishment of Thorne Group Architecture in 2015 giving clients the option of having an architecturally designed and built home within the same service.

Thorne Group Architecture is headed up by multi-award-winning Architectural Designer – Jon McAlpine. Jon creates what is described as ‘conscious architecture’ – bespoke designs which have a life beyond a material manifestation. And these designs have won him both regional and national awards every year since starting in business.

Not to be confused with the commonly touted ‘Design and Build’ service, Thorne Group clients get the opportunity to combine an award-winning architectural designer with high-quality, best practice construction expertise. Having both involved from the very outset, this unique collaboration, ensures clients maximise their budget and get the best possible result. Jon McAlpine and Thorne Group Director Aaron Thorne share some advice for those embarking on the journey to designing and building a new home.

(from left) Gavin Morrow (Construction Director), Aaron Thorne (Managing Director) and Jon McAlpine (Thorne Group Architecture Director)

  1. Choose carefully. Reputation counts in this business. “In our experience, a one-stop service is by far the best approach”, suggests Aaron. “We recommend that before selecting your preferred provider(s) always, always, speak to a number of previous clients. Although written testimonials are great, it isn’t the same as when you can speak with someone to get a really good insight into their experience. Ask about the design process, whether the project met their brief and finished on time and budget, what the communication was like and about any unexpected costs.” Read what our clients have to say about us

  2. Do your due diligence. As well as ensuring all of the above, check how long your architectural designer and potential build partner have been in business and how many previous projects they have worked on together.

  3. Ensure there is an authentically collaborative approach from the outset: Delivering architectural design and construction in one service is unique. For us there is the attitude of being in it together with a collective goal – to exceed our client’s expectations. When challenges are encountered on a project, pointing fingers is not an option, everyone just rolls up their sleeves and works on finding a solution” says Aaron.

  4. Check who is on the team: Having a single point of contact for any queries or concerns will save you time and allow you to relax knowing that your project is being well managed and overseen. Meanwhile, having the right people working behind the scenes is critical. Expert finance, administration and procurement people and processes will ensure your project runs smoothly. Most importantly, a quantity surveyor on the team is a ‘must have’ and will mean there should be no big surprises with costs.

  5. The devil is in the detail: Taking your eye off the detail is the quickest way to get off track and blow the budget. “Sharing an office, we can be in constant communication with Project Managers and suppliers ensuring we are up to date and detailing the very best outcome throughout the design process. This will ultimately ensure optimal allocation of materials and labour, saving clients both time and money” says Jon.

  6. Who’s monitoring the budget? Working alongside the Thorne Group construction team provides a valuable insight into creating affordable designs that work. Jon explains, “A designer needs to be completely in touch with practical construction methodology and up to date with construction costs. You can have a great looking design, but it needs to be buildable to a budget. Working alongside the construction team helps to keep this in check”.

  7. Consider what your time is worth. Engaging an architect and builder separately, you will likely be responsible for driving deadlines and deliverables. You may also find yourself stuck in the middle should any design errors or omissions occur. This can add unnecessary delays to your timeline not to mention the drain on your time and energy.

  8. It’s all about the journey. Let’s face it … life is too short to sacrifice months of your life to a build project that leaves you stressed and exhausted. Entrusting your project to one-team, working together to create your new home means you can leave the distracting details to the experts and focus your energy on the fun stuff.

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