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The Coach: ‘We fear our developer client might be dodgy’

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Trust is crucial in business relationships, says Matthew Turner

We are a busy but still emerging practice. We have been approached by a developer client with an amazing project that would boost us to another scale, just at a time when we would welcome larger projects, as we have the resources in place. However, asking around, I have only heard negative things about them, and that they are very slippery. I fear we might be being used to provide an acceptable face to the planners.

Matthew turner

Ultimately, architects are in service to their clients. However much we see ourselves as forming, leading and driving projects, it is our clients, or even their funders, that call the shots in the end.

The development industry is a dark art to many architects, and the concept that, for example, the trade in consented sites can be more attractive than actually developing a project seems alien to us, with our incentive tending to be to construct the end-result, rather than the profit motive alone.

With planning policy in many areas citing quality more and more, deploying a well-regarded architect can be a canny way to sweeten the pill of a project that otherwise pushes the planning envelope.

We are part of this industry, however, and you need the larger projects. Most seasoned architects would say there is a point when you need to evolve and develop the kind of clients you work with if you are to take a leap in scale of project, and this may be the opportunity.

Clients of larger, more commercial projects can come across with more cut and thrust; it can come with the territory of commercial property scene.

Trusting your instincts might be your best guide

While I don’t know the details of your particular situation, I can’t help thinking that you have answered your own question already – trusting your instincts might be your best guide and, for me, this trumps other considerations. Whether or not you trust people is especially important when it comes to business relationships.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Very topical, given the (as far as I know) well established architectural practice keeping its head above water by working for a developer with a 'back history' of reported trouble with the Mafia and an apparent 'magic touch' with the current Housing Secretary.

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