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The Diary of an Anonymous Architect #1

The first in a new series about the day-to-day travails of an embattled practitioner. This week: Degrees of Diplomacy

I must remember, there’ll be days like this…….’  Van Morrison

Friendly drizzle today – perfect. In the office early, it’s quiet to start with but soon it’s business as usual. I take a call from a client. We’ve been working on an interior for her. She is also acting as project/construction manager - without a JCT contract against our advice. 

A minor crisis arose a week ago. Her joiner was on holiday and our client had been inspecting his work and becoming increasingly unhappy.  We met on site, discussed the issues and agreed to meet with the joiner.  

After a joint site meeting a couple of days ago our client seemed content with the outcome - the joiner assured her that he would make amends, rectify the work and carry on. Job done.

But today our client says she has lost confidence in the joiner. Truth is the client doesn’t really like the joiner and the joiner doesn’t really like the client.  Neither of them wants to get contractual. 

They agree they both dislike solicitors more than they dislike each other

The client wants to appoint another joiner who has apparently been criticising from the sidelines and the joiner just can’t afford a solicitor. They agree, it appears, that they both dislike solicitors more than they dislike each other.

Our client wants the joiner to walk away from the project and repay an interim payment.  It’s not a lot of money but still significant in these straightened times.  Can I help sort it out? 

This didn’t come up in my professional practice course and is possibly on the margins of what I feel comfortable doing but someone has to resolve this and there aren’t many candidates…….

I call the joiner.  To my surprise he seems relieved.  He isn’t enjoying the job and can only see losses mounting.  He wants to repay by instalments.  I email our client. She says she doesn’t want to put him out of business and a repayment schedule is agreed.  Our client will ask her solicitor to draw up a simple agreement. Job done.

The joiner offers a pillar drill and band saw

Another phone call. The solicitor has suggested that the joiner could go under at any time especially in the current climate and recommends our client stores some of the joiner’s equipment as security. I text the joiner. He offers a pillar drill and band saw.  The client accepts and her solicitor is set to work.  Job done - again.

That’s enough distraction for one day.  It’s raining harder, getting late but there’s still time to get back to the drawing board, or what passes for one these days………..

Readers' comments (4)

  • Interesting ! Distractions that can eat up your week.

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  • All this would fall under work stage K for which the client declined to employ the architect. There is no JCT contract and the terms of any contract between the client and the joiner are not stated. The architect would be extremely unwise to get involved without establishing the terms of agreement between the two parties. It appears that a good number of hours have been spent by the architect sorting this out yet there is no mention of the client being charged for the hours spent providing this additional service. If the architect is not charging then he/she is underselling the profession. It's bad enough trying to get a reasonable fee for our services without having to compete with others in the profession who are prepared to work for nothing.

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  • News editor's note: The anonymous architect has contacted me to say that they did 'charge a fee for the time spent'. And they were paid.

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  • Unless agreed, it is not allowable to retain tools or equipment against losses. And surely this action will precipitate joiner no. 1's bankruptcy.

    Clients taking a dislike to tradesmen, and conversely liking bad tradespeople is a serious hazard.

    David Berridge

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