In addition to the services I expected to provide as an architect – drawing, modeling, product research, etc. — I find I give a lot of social and psychological advice.
Renovations bring out the best in people. And since that last sentence is written and not spoken, please read it to yourself dripping with sarcasm.
Renovations are not easy! We do everything in our power to help them go smoothly, but the fact remains that home renovations are messy, expensive, time-consuming, and stressful.
Of all the professionals you might work with on a renovation, we architects are often first. So by the time our clients are under construction, they’ve got a strong working relationship with us. They rely on our input on all sorts of non-architectural issues related to the project.
But I don’t want to be a thorn in their side
One concern I often hear is that clients are afraid of being a constant nuisance to their contractor. On the one hand, they want to make double-sure the contractor understands all of their wants. On the other, they realize construction is not their area of expertise, so they’re hesitant to inquire when parts of the process are unexpected or unfamiliar.
Bottom line, they’ve never renovated before and they don’t know what’s normal. When I’m hashing out questions like these with homeowners, I often give the same advice: here’s what I think, but ask your contractor.
Even if I know exactly what’s happening and can reassure the client that things are going well, I still encourage them to bring any and all concerns to their contractor. Here’s why:
It never hurts to double check. Before it’s framed, installed, or painted, make sure the work in question conforms to the plans. It’s so much easier to fix something before it’s built than after.
Contractors are like anyone else – they’re going to adjust their communication style to your expectations. So if you are regularly in touch with comments and questions, they’re going to check in with you more often in advance of doing the work. Clients who rarely speak up may give the inadvertent impression of being less concerned with budget, schedule, or craftsmanship.
It’s a good thing to be a squeaky wheel.
Treat your project as you would like your project to be treated. We construction professionals (architects, designers, contractors, etc.) take our cues from the client. If a client seems sensitive about schedule, we’ll tend to move those drawings along as fast as possible. If they ask a lot of questions about budget, we’ll take care when recommending products and finishes that support their spending goals.
You as the client set the tone for the renovation. Don’t worry about being the squeaky wheel or seeming pushy. If you’re interested and in-tune with your project, your professionals are likely to respond in kind.