This is a challenging QUESTION grounded on three conditions:
1. Clients often have difficulty in expressing their needs and wants for a building project. In some cases clients have conflicting requirements in terms of what they want. Additionally, clients needs and wants sometimes exceed their budget.
2. Due to client’s difficulty in expressing their needs architects sometime assume clients needs since we are eager proceed and “get started” without knowing precisely what the client is looking for.
3. Some architects impose their own agenda onto the upcoming project and don’t seriously listen to their clients.
The combined result of these conditions is an unsatisfactory finished product and an unhappy client. What if the final design and building is award-winning but the client is unhappy? This does not serve the client, the architect nor the profession. This situation results in:
- the client being disillusioned with the architect, meaning there will be no repeat work; in the future, the client will certainly choose another architect.
- the client will go around spreading the ‘bad’ news about his project, so not only will he choose another architect, he will tell everyone he meets to stay away from the monument builder.
Design and construction of a project should be an exciting happy time for everyone involved. In order to maintain positive momentum, the architect, as the professional, must provide the leadership. Yet design and construction projects involve many players and contributors. Each player must be recognized and acknowledged for his role, especially the client who is the diver of the project.
3 strategies will prevent a common problems on any project:
1. Do not be in a hurry to begin the design process. Spend as much time as it takes as is necessary to understand the client and their needs prior to any design work.
2. Proceed slowly through the design process. This allows the client to understand the layers of the decisions required throughout the design process. Keeping the client informed and involved in the process, he comes to appreciate the complexity of design and will likely appreciate the finished product much more.
3. Keep-in-touch with the client throughout the process and be prepared to repeat explanations about the process and decisions. Many clients are unfamiliar withd the design / construction process so they must be fully and tactfully kept up to speed throughout.
Each client has unique needs and wants in a project and in the process of creating a project. These unique needs must articulated for the client to achieve his goals in the completed building. The architect must consider every detail:
- how to gather information from the client
- how to report to the client
- how and when to communicate with client
Just because a method of dealing with a client was successful, does not mean the method is universal. Each client is unique and must be dealt with in a unique way. From the first day to the last on any project keep asking yourself the question: What does the client really want?
Identifying each client’s unique needs will result in better projects and a successful practice in architecture. Happy clients are salesmen who will sing your praises long after the project is completed.