Finding an architect to design your dream home is often the easy part. Finding a way to build your ambitious design, and to do so on budget, is not always as simple.
We have the solution. Facit Homes’ mission is to create great homes for our customers. These have mainly been homes that we designed ourselves, but in recent years it has started to include homes that have been designed by other architects - some of which were at risk of never being brought to life.
Projects can stall after design
Hiring an architect is exciting, creative and a well-defined path, and getting planning permission for your future home is a cause for great celebration.
However, finding a way to build their design can be a significant challenge and it’s easy to lose faith in the process at this point. It's why many fantastic architectural designs sadly don’t get built.
We've seen two main reasons that people get in touch with us to discuss their project at this point.
1. Escalating costs.
This customer discovers some way into the journey that their new home will cost a lot more than anticipated. How did this happen? In the early design stages they might have outlined what they wanted to spend, but, for most, the true cost of construction is unknown until they are much further down the line.
In the excitement of being able to have input on the design of their own home, this customer has added in everything they ever wanted. It’s understandably easy to get carried away with a breathtaking concept design which perhaps does not reflect the budget.
Their architect may have suggested (but not insisted on) commissioning a cost plan from a quantity surveyor, but this never happened for whatever reason. The design may also have issues that have not yet been resolved in the 2D drawings. Architects don’t traditionally consider a lot of the details before planning is granted, for example the exact window specification or a structural scheme, but such things can have profound effects on cost.
Post-planning, the technical design information is needed for a contractor to understand the materials, products, quantities and complexity in the project so they can provide an informed estimate on cost.
Only once technical drawings have been paid for and detailed prices received back from contractors is the full extent of the disparity between the original budget and the actual build cost finally identified. Faced with this issue, the customer has a decision: find a more cost effective solution or abandon the project. Enter Facit Homes.
2. Trouble finding a capable contractor.
Experienced contractors that can confidently deliver a complex, modern architectural project are few and far between.
After getting planning permission for an architecturally impressive home, this customer is searching for a way to feasibly deliver the design.
The complexity of their project means that it will take too long for a traditional small building firm, who are unlikely to have done something similar before. Larger main contractors find the project too small, as they generally look for bigger and more lucrative contracts. The customer finds that they either need to take a risk with the builders, which could pay off, or look for an alternative solution that will give them more confidence in their project.
Certainty of cost and quality are important, and an end-to-end professional service is desirable, which leads them to look at prefab options. But they discover that working with a prefab company would most likely involve a major redesign to suit a fairly standardised product, so they’re looking for a company that offers a more flexible approach and can solve their construction problem. This is where we come in.
The alternative to a builder or contractor
Facit Homes uses digital manufacturing technology to create individually designed, high performance homes.
Our progressive approach allows us to respond to the requirements of other architect’s designs, and deliver the project with a guaranteed level of quality, sustainability and value. This modern method means we can use our design expertise to resolve complex issues, confident in the knowledge that we can then accurately build the home as designed.
Under the skin of each Facit Home is our advanced structural system, the Facit Chassis™. Digitally designed and manufactured to seamlessly receive other components, it provides a range of advantages over traditional building methods. We customise the Facit Chassis™️ to each bespoke design. It is an inherently flexible system that gives complete freedom of form.
Often we can simply deliver another architect’s scheme as designed, with a minimum of alterations. For customers that come to us with significant cost issues, we may take a slight step back in the design process and rationalise parts of the scheme to bring it into line with their budget. This will require a planning amendment, but will not jeopardize the permission.
The start of every such Facit Homes project is about working to find the perfect balance between the original design and the final costs. Our experienced architects and designers ensure the original design intent is nurtured into a feasible construction, and is still the home the customers always dreamed of living in.
Whatever their situation, those coming to us with an existing design still get all of the benefits associated with a low energy Facit Home:
Super-insulated, airtight building envelope
Triple glazed windows
We provide either a turnkey or assisted self finish build and take care of every part of a project, from planning conditions to utilities connections.
We’ve developed a set of robust, digital estimating tools which enable us to accurately predict what a home will cost to build using just outline information about the site and the planning drawings. We have a wealth of historical data from previous projects that allows us to make accurate estimates for new projects.
In order to firm up these costs, the next step is to commission us to create a full 3D computer model of the home, from which we can harvest all the relevant information such as exact material quantities. From the size of every window to the precise amount of cladding on the walls.
A detailed cost plan at the start of a project gives our customers confidence and certainty that their build will stay on budget. And with a fixed price building contract, they don’t have to worry about wildly escalating construction costs once we are on site.
Many appreciate great design. But what about great construction?
At Facit Homes, as soon as we have agreed the project cost, we start the technical design, construction mobilisation and statutory approvals in parallel so that we can start on site around 3 months after being appointed.
Compared to the traditional tender process, this means that we can save our customers anything between 4-7 months on their project timeline. The construction programme can be anything from 6 months faster than traditional methods - we’ve been known to shave a whole year off a project in total.
Building your architect-designed home: Step-by-step
The Facit Home is the perfect turnkey product for creating architectural designs. Here’s how it works.
You supply us with your project design and planning information
Our in-house architects review the existing design and provide a cost estimate, and/or highlight what might need to change for the home to be built on your budget
The design is updated and modelled in our 3D BIM software, a full cost plan is completed and if required planning amendments submitted
This BIM model is used to digitally manufacture the components of the home
Construction starts and is completed on time and on budget
Our customers Patrick and Scott appointed the architecture practice, Kirkland Fraser Moor, to design their dream home.
Moving into the next phase of their project with an exciting design and planning permission granted, they needed to find a way to build it within their budget. But as designed, it was estimated to be more than they had hoped to spend.
It had the potential to be a fantastic architect-designed home. Approaching Facit Homes with the hope of bringing their home to life, Patrick and Scott decided to work with us to rationalise the design to find a more realistic build cost.
The original design specified a timber roof - beautiful but expensive and potentially high maintenance. Whilst keeping the pitched design, we encouraged them to rethink this material to reduce the risk. We detailed a standing seam metal roof system that we could install with our carpenters, as opposed to needing an expensive specialist metal roofing contractor.
Floor to ceiling glazing was shown on more than half of the ground floor walls. It is often bespoke, not very thermally efficient and has long lead times. Large expanses of frameless glazing require a full steel frame, which is also expensive.
We found another way. We used large, triple glazed windows with very slim frames, reducing the total amount of glazing and structural steel, but keeping the original design intent of bringing the outside in. In between these large windows we proposed weathered COR-TEN steel cladding to contrast the timber cladding above.
In order to further reduce costs, we removed the master bedroom balcony, which Patrick and Scott felt they would rarely use, and railings from the flat roof, which again they were unlikely to often use as a terrace with such a lovely garden below.
At some point in the future, they have the option to add some of these ‘nice-to-haves’ to their home, but it wasn’t deemed essential at this stage.
The stunning structural steel columns holding the projecting first floor form in the original design were a key architectural feature that we knew we had to preserve. We developed the design and digitally manufactured them from COR-TEN steel to great effect.
All design decisions were driven by the value they brought to the project - if they were integral to the design or use of the home, then they were kept, but if not they were evaluated on their own merit.
Our adaptations and additions, such as the unique feature staircase (designed and digitally manufactured by us) brought the project to life by rationalising the design for construction.
We made a simple minor planning amendment, showing the changes to elevations and materials and stating that we had not changed the fundamentals of form, volume or building height. This was a simple box ticking exercise with no obvious risk of getting caught in complex planning issues.
As planning consent existed for the previous design, we felt confident that we could carry on with technical design and modelling work in the background, even though we were also waiting for formal approval, which came within 8 weeks. From then on it was full steam ahead with the build.
For more information about this project, visit the case study.
Get a construction cost appraisal for your project today
Bringing ambitious designs to life is part of our vision: to build a better future - one home at a time. Have you had your dream home designed by an architect?
If you’re looking for a better way to build it, get in touch. We can give you an estimated construction cost for your design. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your project plans or call 020 3034 0720 to speak to Rhys in the studio.