Expecting the Unexpected In Your Project

No matter how long we’ve been working with a client, there’s one conversation we are always returning to, and it’s about surprises. With so many moving parts—not to mention processes and permits—design projects and construction projects will inevitably take an unexpected twist at some point. So the question is not how we’re going to eliminate those surprises, but rather, how we’re going to deal with them..

If we could completely plan ahead for surprises, well, they wouldn’t be surprises. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be fully prepared. Here are a few principles we apply to our process in every project to make sure we’re ready.

  • Talk first. There’s an old saying that suggests it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, but whoever said that probably wasn’t in architecture. We’ve learned over the years to have conversations about surprises early—and often—not because we want to get clients concerned about the unknown, but because we want them to know they can be confident we know what to do if and when a situation arises.
  • Be realistic. It’s important that part of those early conversations be about timing. For some of our new clients, it’s often a little surprising how long something like the permitting process can take. And since most of our clients are business owners, we know time is the biggest concern for them, so we work hard to make sure our clients are aware of what the future holds for their projects on a daily basis.
  • Respond quickly. As business owners in a variety of industries, our clients obviously keep a variety of schedules. So as their architect, it wouldn’t make sense for us to only be available from 9 to 5. We intentionally build flexibility into our work, so that we can keep our clients updated well into the evening, if necessary. It also means that when that surprise finally does come around the bend, we’re responsive and poised for action.
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