How to Deal (On-fly changes in construction)


I am working on a project currently that had a tightly constrained budget and even more so, schedule. 

I am seeing things in shop drawings and CA that are not ideal, but there is not time to do another or the better way. Essentially on any other job, I would send these back or make the GC re-do work, but there is no time for that on this project, so it is mostly making lemonade out of lemons. 

The project looks good but in the course of completing it I have made even more compromises than I normally would.

What is your moral/ ethical/ psychological take on how to handle this? I'm currently using whiskey, but maybe there is a better way?

Aug 10, 17 3:52 pm

Ask the client what they want to do.

Aug 10, 17 4:07 pm

perfect is the enemy of good

Aug 10, 17 4:12 pm

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"  --John Wooden

Aug 10, 17 4:38 pm

next time

vado retro

John Wooden's brother was my shop teacher. He taught me not to wear a necktie while using the lathe.



Non Sequitur

Send it back, always. If schedule is tight, then you don't have the time to review non-compliant submissions. Better to extend the schedule slightly than have an angry client at the end.

Aug 10, 17 4:53 pm

Without exception, my clients care more about schedule than accuracy or quality.


Does the client know or care about any of these issues?   

Aug 10, 17 5:09 pm

yes - we have been updating the Client's CM as we go. Hard to get him to care about anything other than schedule. Client (let alone their CM) doesn't care that I have 2 shadow lines at my ceiling transition and not the 1 I had intended, for example.

Can you copy/paste the part of your agreement that says that making sure the contractor meets their tight schedule is your responsibility, especially if it is due to the contractor not complying with the contract documents?

But yeah, if the client doesn't care, and it's not a code issue ... I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. 

Aug 10, 17 5:31 pm

A project that, as you say, "looks good" is in good shape in my book.  Not every project you do is going to be great.  Finish it and move on to the next one.  The lesson here may be to avoid projects where the budgets and schedules are too aggressive.  I hope your fee was enough to make it worth your while.

Aug 10, 17 6:39 pm

Yes, but what substance do you suggest for coping with your own internal disappointment? As for fee, time + materials is pretty sweet and damn hard to beat.


if it looks good to you, that means to the lay person its perfect

Aug 10, 17 6:45 pm

I usually have a one-on-one with the GC at the kick off.  I tell him where I'm going to be looking very hard, the things that matter, and that I'm amiable to any better ways of accomplishing what I want if he or his subs want to pitch an idea that can work for me.  There are always certain places and details that are important to the concept; best to let the GC know when you are going to dig in.  Elsewhere, I'm a lot more flexible as long as it looks ok.  

I also skip a lot of the paper.  Regular jobsite visits and talking to the GC and subs; often with the owner (basically all the decision makers).  Follow up with meeting minutes so decisions get documented.  Saves about 80% of the RFI's, and more importantly gives the GC a voice in the solutions making them part of the team. The owner is also armed with why there might be a change or why this looks slightly different or the issues and they get to be part of the solution as well. Basically, you want to team build and lead the process so it goes smooth.

btw; when I contracted knowing there will be an expedited construction schedule, CA services get bumped significantly so I can spend a lot of time out there.

Aug 10, 17 7:02 pm

Great advice. This is in line with my approach but I like the idea of having a kick-off to establish good working relationship.


I love lemonade.

Aug 10, 17 9:31 pm

Prioritize. Your job is to maximize the project within constraints. 

The things you can accept are not an issue. 

Attempt to work out the things you can't accept with the GC (use the things you can accept to help work this). 

Those things that can't be resolved with the GC get bumped up to the client.

As the old man used to say, it's time to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

Aug 10, 17 10:00 pm

Get the client involved in the process, and make them understand that compromises must be made when the budget and schedule are very tight.  After all, budget and schedule are really their requirements and they have to be grown up enough to understand that.

PS, has anyone ever had a truly "grown up" client?  I wonder what one looks like.  

Aug 11, 17 8:45 am

"make the client understand" LOL


Thanks for all the good advice and re-assurance. 

How do you deal with the internal conflict that comes from turning out a project that you feel is less than optimal? 

This is my 3rd project that I've been the primary designer on from concept design through CA and my first full-phase as a licensed architect so I am sweating the small stuff as it is ultimately all my responsibility. 

Aug 11, 17 11:48 am

I struggle with the same issues. At this point I'm now overseeing projects as a PM, with a project architect working below me. Now when one of my architects brings me something terrible to look at, I have a hard time caring all that much. There's just too much to do in a typical day to get bent out of shape over something so subjective. If the building performs well, the client is happy, and it comes in on time and budget, that's something to celebrate. Not all projects can be magazine covers.

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