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Hard Day at Work, Stupid Tile, Confused Clients

July 18th, 2013 at 11:39 pm

It's after midnight and I can't sleep - argh!

I am very nearly finished with the history display for a local hotel, and as I was working on it another client called.

The building I designed for him is a fire station, and the firefighters want the tile in the bathroom extended. He was asking me if I would pay for it out of my errors and omissions insurance! Huh? I asked what the error or omission was, and he said they don't have any more money in the project to pay for the tile. So I asked again what I did wrong... apparently I "left out" the additional tile that they now want. (He did understand that it was not something they asked for during design). And, "we don't have any more money for the project; who is going to pay for the tile?"

I've never had an errors and omissions claim, and even though this is additional and not an error or omission, I will end up paying for the tile rather than have it go to a claim.

I think that's why I can't sleep.

But the history window will be finished tomorrow, which is what I promised. Maybe the money I made on that project will pay for the tile?

It sort of makes me sick to think of it.

Also - just venting here - I think sometimes my clients, because I am female, think that I can't possibly be the primary earner in my family, and that what I make is extra and therefore expendable (which I gather from comments they make, that are meant to be funny, but seem like kidding on the sly: "why don't you have your husband buy you a new [car/clothes/whatever].

This same client was very complimentary about the extra work I put into the project during construction (with a difficult contractor) - with no extra compensation, though. I asked for some of the contractor's liquidated damage money, so maybe we can just trade that out for their tile.

(You know, they even asked me why there were no paintings or posters as part of my plans, and were suspicious when I explained that architects don't provide things like that...)

OK, I'm done ranting; I'm going to go to bed now!!

13 Responses to “Hard Day at Work, Stupid Tile, Confused Clients”

  1. Wino Says:

    Tell him to take up a collection from the guys who want the additional tile. If my clients don't ask for something, I certainly don't pay for it for them.

  2. SecretarySaving Says:

    I agree with Wino

  3. ThriftoRama Says:

    Oh Geesh. That is so wrong for so many reasons. If you DO decide to do this for them, I would explain that you are paying out of your own pocket and that you are doing it only as a courtesy thank you very much, because in fact, you don't need to do it.

    And as for posters, maybe they've been watching too much HGTV where the designer handles everything. That isn't reality!

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    Don't agree to do it! That's ridiculous. That's not what errors and omissions insurance is for, and just because they ask you, you don't have to agree to it. It's not your problem they don't have money, and you aren't a bank.

    Speaking of gender differences, consider if you were a man. A man would just say no, so stand your ground. That's really taking advantage of you.

  5. My English Castle Says:

    What a jerk.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    It's one of my pet peeves about women in the work place. It's hard to be taken seriously when so many are just part-time/second-income and are happy to be walked all over.

    Heck, a client once told me it was a shame I had a huge mortgage and had to work and send my kids to daycare. (For reference, my spouse stays home with the kids, and has since before they were born). Assumptions MUCH!?!

    I would be very clear (maybe even in writing) about how the tile thing is their error and that you will be covering it as a courtesy. But, I don't think a flat out "no" is the best way to do business either. It's sometimes better to appease a difficult client. IF a client is going to sue you, bad mouth your business, etc., it's easier just to play the nice guy and send them on their way. As long as that is a small percentage of business doings, it is bound to happen.

  7. snafu Says:

    Does this type of add-on happen often? I'm guessing that clients are unfamiliar with the process and every time they ask/demand a change it costs $$$$. Isn't it revealing how willing that chap is to lie and cheat and ask you to cover his error. Did he discover after the fact that the firefighters expected extended tile? I suspect they weren't consulted at the beginning of the project as is typical in these types of circumstances. No wonder ethics are slipping day-by-day.

    Is it practical to change wording in future contracts to indicate that changes/additions in materials will incur additional costs?

  8. FreebieQueen Says:

    When you prepare your proposals do you include a statement regarding extra costs or issues like this that come up? I know that jerks like this will probably come back and say they never saw that in the contract, blah, blah, blah, but at least you'd have a foot to stand on. I recently took a few mediation/negotiation courses and I found some of the technqiues helpful in dealing with difficult people/bullies.

  9. Buendia Says:

    Seeing everyone's comments of support makes me feel much better (and I think stronger). My outlook this morning is that we need to meet face to face to discuss this, and I can show them in my meeting minutes where they said they didn't WANT tile on the entire bathroom wall. We do extensive meeting with the firefighters early in the process, and they want everything but their bosses have to make decisions for affordability and give me final direction (maybe a case of them not communicating final decisions to the end user). It's actually a nice looking station, and all the firefighters I've talked to are super happy there (they were in a dark decaying space before we renovated/added). I'll post a photo later!!

    And regarding contracts... I have to sign the city's contract (it's not a terrible contract and does have language about additional services) - if I won't sign, they can always go to another architect. It's not a terrible job, though - I get to use my creativity/talent.

    *note that creative people are sometimes really bad at valuing their work and negotiating in situations like these!!

  10. PatientSaver Says:

    Yeah, but I don't think their point is that you did anything wrong. So why waste time having a meeting to discuss that? I think they're simply looking for a way to get more tiling done for free, and so they're suggesting you make a claim on your insurance to do that. They already know you didn't do anything wrong, and that they didn't initially want the whole bathroom wall tiled. They're just trying to get it done at no cost, and this is not your obligation. Having a big meeting about it just makes it appear that you're going to consider doing it and it will make it harder for you to just say no, you need to be paid for your time, you don't do charity work. You really need to draw a line.

  11. Baby_nurse Says:

    I'm so sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, DH and I have these types of clients, too. Our so,union so far has been to have very, very specific design parameters spelled out. That way , when they come back and tell us that they want the kitchen redesigned so they can now get the Subzero fridge they've fallen in love with, we can say they signed off on a setup designed around brand and style "x" that they previously coveted. Having it in writing with their signatures, as well as any changes they make along the way, has cut down on the angry phone calls I have to deal with. We actually had one that wanted us to add about a thousand square feet to her house because she decided after the house was framed that she wanted a seperate she closet for her daughter and we should have anticipated this need ! Oy!

  12. Baby_nurse Says:

    I'm so sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, DH and I have these types of clients, too. Our solution, so far has been to have very, very specific design parameters spelled out. That way , when they come back and tell us that they want the kitchen redesigned so they can now get the Subzero fridge they've fallen in love with, we can say they signed off on a setup designed around brand and style "x" that they previously coveted. Having it in writing with their signatures, as well as any changes they make along the way, has cut down on the angry phone calls I have to deal with. We actually had one that wanted us to add about a thousand square feet to her house because she decided after the house was framed that she wanted a seperate she closet for her daughter and we should have anticipated this need ! Oy!

  13. LuckyRobin Says:

    It really sounds like that guy is trying to take advantage of you.

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