Trust Must Be Earned

Have you ever noticed the statement: “AVOID SCAMS BY DEALING LOCALLY” predominantly displayed at the top of each page on Craigslist?

Colleges, Hospitals, Municipalities and other clients with campuses of multiple buildings tend to know this. They have learned to value the service and accountability of a local firm.

Once or twice a year we get a call from someone involved in a building project that went bad. Whether it was choosing the wrong design professional, the wrong builder, or even both – they need help. So where did they go wrong? Here are a few reasons we have heard:

1. The local architect told me it was going to cost more.
You mean the local architect that has to look you in the eye at Rotary Club after bid day?!? He knows you’re going to be much happier if the project comes in on budget. He knows a building can be $100/sq. ft. or $300/sq. ft. and he wants to tie it to your needs and expectations. He’s probably also coached you on comprehensive budgeting for the many development costs you may have outside of the building construction. Your expectations of quality and the bidding climate will dictate the cost. Remember, the architect projects the cost, he does not set it. Most importantly, the local architect works in your community and depends on earning your positive reference for future work. For him, there is no “one-and-done” then off to the next city scenario – he needs to set realistic, not idealistic, budgets.

2. He’s teamed with this builder and they have a unique process that makes it cost less.
No one has a magic wand, and be leery of anyone trying to sell you one. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The bricks and steel are not going to get cheaper because of this “special process.” Quite frankly, it is often the opposite. An outside builder, who is not competitive in the area, convinces someone he has a “unique process.” This process in fact removes some competitive pricing, not to mention he has additional costs due to the distance.

3. He has specialized expertise in similar projects.
This may in fact be true. Sometimes there is a stigma that anyone from out of town with a briefcase must be an expert. The local guy can’t possibly know anything because we were in the fifth grade together.

The fact is, occasionally projects can benefit from focused expertise. Most architects know their limitations and will engage that type of expertise. The architect knows the people in the industry who have a reputation for creative design, performance and service. In these cases, consider hiring the local architect and have him engage the “expert” as a consultant. You benefit by having local service and accountability, along with the unique expertise needed on your project.

Your local architect understands the importance of your organization or business and your community. He is likely just as passionate about your success as you are.