First Things First – my wife, retainers, planning & life

My wife has a great expression for when I need a bit of guidance on what my attention needs to be focussed on:

“First Things First…”

What she’s meaning is that in order to reduce your stress in life when you have a pile of things that you need to get done; you simply do the most important thing first, forget about the rest until that is done and then when it is done simply move on to the next thing that needs to be done first. Then repeat for each thing that needs to be done ‘first’. Did I ever tell you that my wife is an amazing person?

Now as you know this is an architectural blog and what could this possibly have to do with building? Well the same principle applies – First things first!.

  • I’ve said it before that before a big project starts, my standard procedure now is to obtain an upfront retainer prior to commencing. This sets the scene in a number of ways:

    * It establishes who the client is, sounds obvious but sometimes with committees, backers, etc… it can be difficult to establish who the actual client is and who is going to pay the invoices.
    * It demonstrates the commitment of the client to the project, when the money is in the game – we’re all committed.

    As I’ve written previously, alarm bells begin to ring if there are problems at this stage; if we have problems at the beginning then how is the project going to progress smoothly. So, First Things First, let’s get the project started well and the retainer is part of this.

    The second staging post for ‘First things first’ is the period between going in for planning and the production of the construction drawings. For me, these are two distinct steps and they are two completely different RIAI Work Stages. There is a tendency to try to be rushed into the production information whilst the project is still going through planning and it’s important to remember “First things first”. Let’s get the planning out of the way first and then deal with the construction information; the last thing the client wants to receive is a fee for abortive work if the planners request design changes. Who knows, planning is never guaranteed and the architect has done a stack of work where (in some cases) there is little likelihood of ever getting paid for.

    So always remember “First things first”

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