Scary thing about building No 1

Yes, building projects in general are exciting things, but anyone who has watched Grand Designs will know the stress and anxiety that they can cause. This is not reserved just for the client, but also true for any involved professional who has an ounce of soul and empathy. So it is with my first extension project for my friend Jemima. Being a fellow ex-architecture student and friend, the client-architect relationship (I should point out I am effectively an architect without a title for this project) has come naturally. Quite often, it has been myself that was pushing the scope of the project down on account of the limited budget! I feel a huge responsibility over the small fortune that my friend is putting into this project. In our minds, architectural practice is overshadowed by design, and the project management element is a neglected subject. Good project management (and empathy) is the difference between a satisfied client with a successful building, and a resentful one with a building tainted by the memory of its birth. With this is mind, here's are the parts of building that make me anxious.

Demolition

So the builders are on site, and you have handed over your beautiful straight line drawings to them. They bring out the sledgehammers. Within hours, the house is no longer the client's - it is the builder's. If building works were to suddenly stop, then the house would be in a worse state than it was before. Minimum excitement for the client, and maximum anxiety. The same for you.

Excavation

There are big trenches a metre deep in places, right next to existing heavy walls. The thought of neighbouring walls slipping looms heavy on your mind. You say nothing about this to anyone.

Foundations

Finally! Progress. Something has been made. But were they laid deep enough? In my case, "maybe not". After 20 phone calls, this was resolved to "make sure you trim that tree every 10 years". All the while, dreading the words "do it again" which equals upset client. Of course, the client knew nothing of this until it was resolved. My tip - don't let clients know about problems until you can present a solution.

David Pennington

Exactly. The point is, architecture schools seldom perpare you for the oncomig problems. They say "the engeneers will solve that", but it is quite never the case, only on big assignments. So the erchitect feels at loss, actually. If the contractor has experience and is a responsable bloke, then all well - things seem to move ina good pattern. Otherr the architect must be cautious, and pursue correct INFORMATION to take decisions. -David

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