We Talk to Pete Furlong from Elyte Focus about the Benefits of Having a Builder and Architect in One

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One thing we are passionate about here at Grand Designs Australia magazine is the importance of employing an architect when embarking on a renovation or new build, rather than just a builder.

But what if you could have an all-in-one solution? Well, you can. That’s where someone like Pete Furlong from Elyte Focus comes in.

What services does Elyte Focus provide?

Elyte Focus is a multifaceted design and construction company that also provides property development and management services. We focus on architectural residential construction, building our own designs or working with other architects to make their designs
a reality.

As both a builder and an architect, how does this help achieve positive outcomes?

As many would know, often there is a certain amount of information and architectural intent lost in translation between architect and builder. This relationship is also often adversarial. There is a time vs cost vs quality balance that is important to maintain for a project’s outcome to be considered successful. Unfortunately, some builders balance only time and cost, with quality being a less important factor. Architects consistently emphasise the importance of quality and architectural merit. As an architect myself, the importance of a quality outcome is innate in both my nature and approach to building. Pairing this with the commercial considerations of time and cost allows this balance to be seamlessly maintained without conflict, thus achieving an optimal outcome for the homeowner.

During the construction phase of a project, the architectural intent is always a high priority. When alternative construction processes or material selections are proposed, they are considered with an architect’s understanding of the desired design outcome.

Typically, the homeowner initially seeks design input from an architect and brings the design to the builder. Often the architect has not fully resolved the building process, so the design needs to be reviewed by the builder and modified to achieve an optimal construction outcome. As an architect and builder, I am ideally placed to provide early input into the design process as well as achieving a design that utilises optimal building materials and processes.

Close communication with homeowners provides the opportunity for me to understand not just the broad outline of their objectives, but the subtler nuances of how the homeowners see themselves living in their new home. Communication includes understanding the lifestyle the homeowners lead, their environmental values, their financial objectives and budgetary constraints, and the way they see themselves within their local community. Listening closely to homeowners allows me to optimise the design, both in the initial stages of design, but also in the construction phase as adjustments can be made relatively simply to accommodate the homeowners’ personal needs. An example is the construction of an extra cubby house at the rear of the underground basement excavation of a four-storey house, or the inclusion of a custom-built lightwell to bring natural light into a dark, rear kitchen of an inner-city warehouse extension.

Because I am so intimately involved in every stage of every project, I have a detailed oversight and understanding of every element of design and construction. I enjoy frequent and regular communication with the homeowners, usually onsite, so that design and construction can evolve through the building process. Homeowners are given extensive opportunities to provide their input for consideration, which contributes to a productive relationship between homeowner and builder and facilitates resolution of any points of difference.

Do you have any advice for someone embarking on a new build or renovation?

Identifying the right team for the project as early as possible is vitally important. Review an architect’s body of work to see if it is your style. Interview the selected architect to ascertain their construction experience and whether the architect has a strong working relationship with a selection of builders.

Recognising good design at the very beginning of a project has the most significant impact on the final project outcome. Under-valuing the importance of considered and appropriate design input at the beginning of a project can never be overcome with decisions made later in the project.

Ensure that the builder is involved in the design phase and establish a clear and detailed brief, including budget and timing constraints before commencing design.

Consider your budget and maintain realistic expectations. It is very easy to be carried away by impressive designs and amazing materials and products, but budgetary constraints can transform a building project from an exciting, rewarding and enjoyable process into a very stressful experience. It is important to have realistic expectations in the initial phase.

Don’t feel obliged to stick with a design idea if it doesn’t feel right and don’t be afraid to start the design process again. This is a homeowner’s best chance to achieve their ultimate goals. However, once construction begins, clear, concise and timely decision making is vitally important to the successful construction phase of the project.

So to recap, what are the main benefits for the homeowner?

• Higher-quality outcomes can be achieved more economically and in a shorter time frame.
• Cost variation risk can be considerably reduced.
• Design intent can be maintained throughout the
entire project.
• Less time and effort are required to describe a project to a builder with copious amounts of documentation.
• A builder can build more successfully if he thoroughly understands the back story to the design.
• A broader knowledge base does not need to be communicated between two parties (separate architect and builder), with the possibility of it being misinterpreted or misunderstood.

For more information

Elyte Focus