10 Jan 2013

The Agent – Value Beyond Construction

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I often wonder if my architecture work matters. So much of what an architect does suffers mistranslation and loses design intent. By the time an idea cycles through construction, numerous people guess what it should be rather than clarify what it is. Unless a client hires the architect to monitor construction there’s no link between the design inspiration and the finished construction. One in 12 clients hires me to observe construction because they don’t understand the value. This story reveals how the “one” recognized an architect’s value beyond construction.

A former client called today. I say “former” because we finished their remodel 18 months ago. Some architects fear client follow-up calls because they assume the client calls to complain; however, I always assume they call to send me a referral. In this case, it was neither a complaint nor a referral. This client called to ask for help.

They hired me to remodel a 1980’s era home (The Sketch, The Details, The Docs). We expanded the great room and the masterbath/closet area. They also hired me to review the builder’s contract (The Advisor) and observe construction (The Agent). While all my services were valuable, it’s this last one (The Agent) that proved valuable beyond construction.

As I mentioned, we finished the project 18 months ago, but 4 months ago, their A/C burned. Luckily it was under warranty and they received a replacement unit, but the fire affected other areas too. The owner filed a claim with his home owner’s insurance and explained the fire affected the remodeled area. The insurance company wanted proof the owner performed work.

Since they hired me to monitor construction, I wrote reports, processed change orders, processed payment applications, documented & tracked progress. At the end of the project, I supplied a DVD with all the contract and project documents (about 1,000 files). The documentation made it easy to track all the new work and it’s value.

The owner shared the information with the insurance agent. The agent responded, “I’ve never seen this much documentation.” The agent insinuated, “This must be fabricated.” The owner invited the agent to call me so I could explain what I provided and why.

I use the AIA documents and each document contains a unique identifier when I generate the document. It’s impossible to fabricate and simultaneously authenticate the document. Mine were legit and helped the owner file a claim to repair his fire damage.

I know I do thorough and good work, but this call proved my thoroughness creates value for me and my client beyond construction.

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.