It is not uncommon to hear of a building project gone wrong because of misunderstandings between an architect and contractor. On one hand, the contractor wants to make sure that the building gets done on time, within budget, and in adherence to the highest engineering standards. The architect, on the other hand, is protective of his design, upon which the aesthetics of the building rests.
The case isn't hopeless though. Over the years, architects and contractors have found a way to create a harmonious working relationship. Still, it is inevitable that there will be instances when the two wouldn't agree on how things should be done. If you are the contractor in such cases, what would you do?
As a contractor, you must take measures to avoid a head-to-head collision with the architect. You can start this juggling act the minute you hear the name of the architect with whom you will be working. Find out what his or her reputation is, and ask anyone in your network what it's like to work with that architect. Knowing how the architect operates gives you an idea how you should deal with him or her.
- Maintain constant and open lines of communication. This is important from the start until the end of the project. During your first meeting with the architect, emphasize how crucial it is to maintain all lines of communication at all times. Tell the architect that you want to be informed of any changes in design before it is implemented or adopted, so you can evaluate how this will affect your job. Maintaining constant communication will go a long way in preventing disagreements and catastrophes in the future.How do you make sure that communication is constant between you and the architect? Exchanged contact details, including e-mail addresses, instant messenger IDs, Skype IDs, and mobile numbers.
This way you can maintain constant communication through emails, chat, and telephone. You could also agree to set up daily, weekly, or bi-weekly meetings just to get things in perspective. These meetings need not be long, since it will be just an update on what's been done and how the project is going, unless of course an emergency comes up and you have to brainstorm solutions to the problem.
- Always be professional and keep your head cool. Remember, you are on a job. Should you find yourself annoyed by the creative and artistic eccentricities of the architect, try to maintain your composure, and focus on the work at hand.
- Keep your mind open to ideas. Sometimes, an architect can come up with a new design detail while the project is ongoing. Do not dismiss the idea upfront; give it some consideration. Even if the idea seems outrageous or preposterous and there is no way on earth that you will agree to it, pretend that you will give it some consideration. This will appease the architect and prevent public display of artistic hysterics.
Learning how to deal with difficult architects is part of a contractor's life. Follow the advice above and you can increase the chances of having a good working relationship with architects.