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|How Not To Engage An Architect. by SeniorArchitect: 2:27pm On May 25, 2017|
We all know that there was a time when the question " What is your budget?" played important/ determining roles in how architects were engaged by private clients.
We will also not deny the fact that there are still architects in Nigeria today who insist on either costing to design or designing to cost when approaching a contract.
There is also no gainsaying the fact that having full knowlegde of your client's budget and the extent to which he is willing to commit financially is key to preserving your dignity and avoiding career-recking embarrassments.
Unfortunately though, there are lots of practitioners today who act with so much anxiety and haste that once a client indicates interest and issues a brief, they flush out designs without being properly engaged.
The more unfortunate thing in this case also, is that a greater percentage of the people in this group will repeatedly crawl back with lamentations of how clients have abandoned proposals with them and refused to pay.
There is another group also whose members, even in the thick of an economic hardship, insist on proper consultation and commissions, and on advising the client professionally. These, they do even before preliminary sketches are done for the proposal.
The worst that could happen to this group of professionals is having the client pull out of the contract, and this is what no reasonable client will do. But even if they do pull out, they would have saved you the stress and aweful sight of a backlog of abandoned proposals.
Most architects believe in what they do and in what they can offer. This is good. You need to see the confidence with which our young architects display their works.
What is not so good however, is that many of us are very eager and, in fact, cannot wait to impress clients with our out-of-the-world creativity, imagination and 3D Visualizations, and we do this at the expense of very critical elements of successful practice - for us and the larger profession.
You need to first ascertain whether your client is capable of financing your imagination, or if maybe he would want you to design what his pocket can absorb.
This is not even about how architects no longer write specifications or draw up estimates.
Below is a list of situations that must occur if you engage a client without a pre-discussed budget, unless of course you have a Burj Al arab -type of commission.
1. The client could get intimidated by the scope of your proposal and/or be forced into unsolicited financial pressure.
This is not good for business.
2. You run a risk of having your client abandon such proposals on your own shelves.
3. Your proposal, if accepted, may get massive alterations on site. Believe me, you don't need that in your career.
4. You may end up having the credit for a number of the abandoned projects that span your career life and which dot your cityscape.
5. You may become known as the professional who is not in touch with reality.
Being an elitist-architect is good but like peak milk, being the people's architect pays better.
6. You will box yourself into a corner and all you achieve is handing the mantle over to the client. What was supposedly a consultation becomes a dictation and the client decides whether to pay or not, and how much he will pay. You end up negotiating cost of your services against yourself just to get paid.
Visualization impresses a client but the knowledge and assurance of feasibility, cost friendliness, and profit for his pocket wins his heart.
Some of us get uncessarily worried about the secrecy with which clients guard their financial capabilities - maybe they wouldn't want to get kidnapped for ransom. This is funny.
The truth is that a client who consults you should be able to trust you with how much he can afford. You are not asking for his bank statement.
Unless you wish for frequent additions, subtractions and adjustments during design, please ask for his budget.
It is also easier if you have a catalogue or portfolio ready with samples of previous projects that match his brief. This way he gets to chose an option that best suits whatever available funds he has.
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