Know When to Run

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My architect colleagues will do some nodding here.
Sometimes you have to know when to run screaming from a project or risk losing your shirt to someone who probably makes six times your income.
-If I client is in a hurry, step away
-If a client refuses to divulge budget numbers, back away
-If a client has unrealistic expectations and refuses to listen to reason, turn and start walking
-If a client wants something for free run for your life!
The mistake I have made in the past is thinking I can change someone. If this sounds like the stereotypical doomed personal relationship then BINGO. I am limited in my abilities to educate a potential or new client as to the architectural process and rely on references in the form of previous clients and builders (I always give out a list) If after all this, it is clear that the client hears what they want to hear and nothing more or less than it is time to exit stage left.
An example: A few years ago I was hired to do an addition to an old Vermont cape. The addition was to have a large family room, two studies, a bedroom suite with closets and bathroom, a utility room, a porch etc etc. This is a LOT of square footage. I found that I could make a floor plan that made them happy but the resulting massing and scale was far off no matter what I did. I got fired from the job and lost my shirt to someone who can not only afford a second home in Vermont but can afford to renovate and add on. Mental note: future Woe-Is-Me post – why didn’t I become a New York architect so I could afford to live in Vermont. In retrospect, I realized that what they were looking for visually was irreconcilable with what they wanted for a program (the floor plan spaces) The addition was to replace a small shed ell which was quite cute and a good match for the old cape and my job was to make the new addition just as small and cute despite containing 4x the space. Impossible. There will always be someone else who will tell them they can do it. Either an architect or designer who is a better salesperson than me and will do fanciful renderings with lots of flowers that make it look okay or a builder who will say “lets just figure it out as we go” and exude confidence all over the place. Yuck. I must assume they found such a person.

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  1. Pingback: Red Flags « Entrepreneur Architect

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