Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry Logo

The Architect’s Response

Last month I told you how I was asked to bid on a shopping mall, but the building plans were littered with nothing but design errors. As angry as I was, I decided to send a matter-of-fact e-mail to the architect to try to start a dialogue.




The e-mail I sent referenced the job name, and I simply asked, “Do you check your drawings before they are sent out for bid?”




I think that was a reasonable question. My intent was just to see if he would contact me so we could discuss the errors I had found in the drawings.




Within an hour of my e-mail, I had a response. The architect’s e-mail requested a phone number, which I provided. My thoughts were twofold: Either this would be the start of change, or I had set myself up for a tongue-lashing.




My phone rings and on the other end, a person identifies herself as a person with the architectural firm. I asked, “Are you the project architect for the mall project?”




“No,” she said. “I am the accountant.”




The accountant? I really thought she was going to tell me she was just kidding. But she didn’t.




She continued, “The architect received your e-mail and he said he didn’t understand it and wanted me to call you.”




I tried to put things into perspective for her: “I just finished struggling with one of the most hard-to-follow architectural plans in my career. I sent a simple, one-sentence question to the architect, and he doesn’t understand the point of my e-mail? Then, the architect has the accountant call me to find out the purpose of the e-mail. Obviously the architect cannot convey his design from vision to paper, so why should I expect he could read and understand my e-mail?”




I ended the conversation with, “Thank you for calling, and have a nice day.”




Based on the importance the architect gave my e-mail, I would conclude that either the architect did not really care, or he did not understand his drawings either … or my e-mail.




The way I see it, if the architect really wanted to address my e-mail, he would not have passed it on to the accountant. After all, I was not inquiring about payment of an invoice; I was inquiring about his failed attempt to convey his design visions.




Is this cavalier attitude of the architect befitting all architects? No! Would it describe a large percentage of the architects? Yes! Based on what I experience every day, I would say that a large percentage of architectural firms could not care less about the quality of the plans they produce. I cannot think of another profession that could get by with such mediocrity and remain viable.




Errors and omissions in building design typically account for half of a project’s change orders, according to a registered architect retired from the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. The rest are normally due to a variety of unforeseen and/or inconsistent site conditions, and changes in the project owner’s needs.




Shouldn’t some governing body or the licensing board for each state hold the architect to a higher standard? What will we, the construction industry, be expected to accept from the architects in the future?




I don’t have an answer for that question, but maybe you do. I encourage you to respond to the editor of this magazine (porinchak@awci.org). If we fail to demand better, we will only encourage continuation of the mediocrity that we now endure on a daily basis.




About the Author


Charles Mahaffey is president of Accuest, LLC, Marietta, Ga., and The Academy of Construction Estimating in Atlanta.

Browse Similar Articles

You May Also Like

white, yellow and blue hard safety helmet hat for safety project of workman as engineer or worker, on concrete floor on city.
I’m never at a loss for words when describing the difficulties confronting my estimating contemporaries in their daily endeavors.
When I say compensation, I’m not just referring to amount, but also the method of distribution.
AWCI's Construction Dimensions cover

Renew or Subscribe Today!