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Clients. Can't live with them can't live without them...

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Clients. Can't live with them can't live without them...

Old 01-11-2019, 03:43 PM
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Default Clients. Can't live with them can't live without them...

.Been in private architectural practice for over 25 years and have had my good days and bad - mostly good but today was a frustrating day. Working on a small residential project that required a State variance on a flood plane issue to get a building permit. They are rarely granted and I told the client ( a kind of friend who I've known for years) that from the beginning repeatedly. I had gotten one for a project 3 years ago but told him I was shocked we prevailed and it was no guarantee for success on his project. Well we got denied in September. I sent a bill for my time for the preparation and presentation at the hearing - a total of 6 hours - 3 of which where driving to Boston for the hearing. After 3 months of not getting paid I sent him a friendly hand-written note asking if he overlooked the bill. I got a check today along with a nasty letter about how I disappointed him in failing to get the variance.... I picked up the phone and called him to discuss, I did not lose my temper and we hung up after some discussion. Upon more thinking about how I had done nothing wrong I wrote him a letter stating my case and re-iterating that I never guaranteed success in getting the variance in fact the opposite and that these cases all take time. Time that is billable success or no and that I billed very reasonably for my time. I included his check in the letter and dropped it in the mail... I hate most people. Rant over.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:53 PM
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No sympathy here. As a builder I get multiple sets of plans a year for me to bid on. A single bid can take anywhere from forty to over a hundred hours. I don't get to bill for that but if I call an architect, engineer or a lawyer for some quick advice it's on the clock. Sometimes it's better to fire the client.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:54 PM
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No good deed goes unpunished. Repeat in the mirror daily.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:56 PM
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...feel your pain..been having issues with single women homeowners lately. 3 jobs in 3 months have been aggravating...
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:56 PM
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Zero upside to doing business with friends and family. Avoid if at all possible. If unavoidable, consider it pro-bono
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:58 PM
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s
Originally Posted by DotRotten View Post
No sympathy here. As a builder I get multiple sets of plans a year for me to bid on. A single bid can take anywhere from forty to over a hundred hours. I don't get to bill for that but if I call an architect, engineer or a lawyer for some quick advice it's on the clock. Sometimes it's better to fire the client.
Difference here is you know when going into a bid situation you are taking the risk of not getting the job after many hours of working the bid. For me in this case I had done the 'free' work in meeting the client, writing the proposal with the hope of getting the job. Once secured, there was never any question that the work I signed up to do included the variance process which was to be paid for work without any guarantee of success. I sympathize tremendously with contractors that have to put bids together only to get yanked around by homeowners who want to use those bids to shop the lowest price. I work hard to make sure that does not happen and try to avoid bid projects like the plague. In this case, the client has been fired.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DotRotten View Post
No sympathy here. As a builder I get multiple sets of plans a year for me to bid on. A single bid can take anywhere from forty to over a hundred hours. I don't get to bill for that but if I call an architect, engineer or a lawyer for some quick advice it's on the clock. Sometimes it's better to fire the client.
I think most people think contractors all have secret numbers the multiply by square footage and wa la bid complete. The never see prints covered in posted notes and pages of supply quotes. Also probably think the Architect has form letters for all situations and loves a nice drive. It's very hard to dissuade people from there dreams even when truly is just a dream....a dream ready to metamorphose into a nightmare.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Elusive View Post
Zero upside to doing business with friends and family. Avoid if at all possible. If unavoidable, consider it pro-bono
My ending sentence in my letter was something to the effect that 'mixing business with friendship was probably not a wise decision on my part'
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:08 PM
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Calling the friend/client was good
Sending the friend/client a letter was good

Should have kept the check because he isn't going to be your friend/client any more.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ktdtx View Post
Calling the friend/client was good
Sending the friend/client a letter was good

Should have kept the check because he isn't going to be your friend/client any more.
Yeah, the missus is pissed cause I returned the check, but I have to tell you it felt good to me.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:14 PM
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To the OP, you might if you ever in the future get wrangled into doing work for a friend, bill them a minimum up front with periodic small bills laced throughout the process. In short, you got it right, don't do business with friends.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ktdtx View Post
Calling the friend/client was good
Sending the friend/client a letter was good

Should have kept the check because he isn't going to be your friend/client any more.
This x2. People who think this way never change and many do so in hopes of not paying. I no longer give any money back. Took me awhile to reach this point though.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:22 PM
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something in writing up front about him geting a bill either way instead of just words on a phone or even in prerson might have been better.

same thing that I think lawyers should do, instead of the no cost if you loose
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 99yam40 View Post
something in writing up front about him geting a bill either way instead of just words on a phone or even in prerson might have been better.

same thing that I think lawyers should do, instead of the no cost if you loose
It's a crying shame that you have to put that in writing but I guess it is what it is.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:27 PM
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My father was (semi retired) a small town architect. Similar to you, private practice, one partner for a decade or so.

I remember vividly Several clients he had To fire. You can't please em all. Then I remember being at the bar as I got older and hearing construction buddies bitch about my dads "overbuilt" homes.

Take it with a grain of salt. Self employed, doing cool stuff, some people just don't get it. At least you're in a position where you can walk away, because you're the boss.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:30 PM
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The general public sucks. I too have lost time, money & friendships by them taking advantage of my expertise, time, and resources. You did the right thing, you kept it above belt and institutional.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Double tyme View Post
My father was (semi retired) a small town architect. Similar to you, private practice, one partner for a decade or so.

I remember vividly Several clients he had To fire. You can't please em all. Then I remember being at the bar as I got older and hearing construction buddies bitch about my dads "overbuilt" homes.

Take it with a grain of salt. Self employed, doing cool stuff, some people just don't get it. At least you're in a position where you can walk away, because you're the boss.
I’d overbuild your fathers houses any day of the week.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:33 PM
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Dont let them drive you to drinking...... or drugs!!!
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:37 PM
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Obviously you explained the odds of getting the variance to your client. I’m guessing your billing was more than fair. I would have deposited his check.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Brett1 View Post
Dont let them drive you to drinking...... or drugs!!!
Funny you should say that - for a number of reasons I have stopped drinking for the past six months or so. Tonight, I hit my old watering hole - nothing over the top but after dropping the letter at the post office I drove past the bar and well...…
Hope you are doing well tonight Brett!
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