Perspectives - Fall 2012 - (Page 24)
The Sole Practitioner—Part I
PAUL HASTINGS OAA, MRAIC, LEED AP
To many sole practitioners who are operating from a home ofﬁce, competition and reduced cashﬂow is a major problem. How do you compete with larger ﬁrms to get on a consultant list? How do you compete with other designers in Ontario for smaller, simpler, Part 9 buildings? How do you qualify for business loans for equipment and software upgrades? How do you ﬁnd time to market your ﬁrm, get your work done and still maintain your home base? How do you ﬁnd and negotiate with consultants in the disciplines you require? How do you ﬁnd answers in 10 minutes to practice and code questions? In short: how do you survive? Most sole practitioners have to know everything and have to do everything, all within the 24-hour day. Most sole practitioners complete one job and have to go looking for the next—attract a new client and then negotiate an accounts receivable settlement with an old one. Oftentimes this old client is the same one who was happy to meet with you in the beginning and now has to be chased for payment, so that the amount owed is being reduced by the time spent in collecting. There has to be a better way.
deﬁciencies, schedule changes and ridiculous extras. But they are convinced that they now know how to handle those problems on the next project and are even prepared to offer advice to others. Unfortunately, as architects well know, the next project will have a different set of problems. No matter how many house renovations or additions they do, the contractor has done many more and an unscrupulous contractor has many tricks to draw on. After all, it has been said that construction is a continuous process of concealment.
The non-requirement for an architect in smaller and less complicated Part 9 buildings seems to stem from the principle that every citizen should be allowed to build a shelter for him- or herself and immediate family and perhaps a building in which to conduct a business that will provide for that family. However, as concerns for safety increase, an architect is needed to assure that these concerns are not left to the assumed skill and competence of the citizen/builder, even under the oversight of city building inspectors. The larger, more complicated Part 3 buildings—churches, schools, apartments and hotels, for example—require licensed architects as part of the design team and a professional seal on construction documents for building permit submission and approval. In cases such as these, architects are needed to ensure the safety of occupants and to tend to the complexities of “Firmness, Commodity and Delight.”
VALUE ADDED BY ARCHITECTS
First of all, architects provide added value to projects, both quantitatively and qualitatively. An architect adds value by monitoring the contract and contractor, ensuring quality workmanship, fair credits and extras, all of which can be quantiﬁed to show value added. Notwithstanding inspections by the city or municipality, the contract management and payment certiﬁcation aspect is very important and architects share heavily in that responsibility to protect the client. Certifying proportional payment for work done properly; ensuring that warranty, maintenance material and commissioning in “wired-homes” are completed—it is not only the CAD drawing and heat loss calculations; it is also the contract and construction review where an architect adds value to projects. Many people who have undertaken a project without an architect live to regret it: having to deal with contractor
CLIENTS AND ARCHITECTS NEED EACH OTHER
Clients need design services and architects provide them. Clients come in various sizes, ranging from the individual to multinational corporate conglomerates and governmental agencies. Most larger buildings are in the corporate and governmental domain, where a larger architectural practice with many architects and designers can provide the resilience, continuity and resources to satisfy the client. But the reputation for on-time and on-budget
OAA PERSPECTIVES|FALL 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Fall 2012
Perspectives - Fall 2012