I'm seated at a table near the bar watching Dr. Froggy enter the restaurant. He’s in the navy blazer and on his phone talking to someone other than me. He sits down a few minutes later and says, "Sorry I’m late. I was talking to the builder on my house. Between him and the architect they are behind…what else is new?” Dr. Froggy mutters.
Sure, I know. Frank Lloyd Wright is the living legacy regarding what a pain in the ass architects can be. And contractors have subjected me to mocking and ridicule, asking if my hard hat is from Macy’s. So I know architecture and construction are dysfunctional. I also know Dad has always run his practice on the straight and narrow, with honor and integrity. So Dr. Froggy should not make such generalizations that upset the Architect's daughter.
“How long has the construction been going on?” I ask and sip water. “Since January,” Dr. Froggy replies. “How many square feet again?” I ask. “Over 5,000 finished and then there is an unfinished basement and attic. But it took forever to get the kitchen done and they made a mistake with the hot tub and the concrete pad was not engineered for the correct weight load. My mom keeps coming to oversee the construction,” he replies.“Well, that sucks for your Mom, but look, construction is an inexact science unfortunately. There are lots of unexpected variables. But have you made a lot of Owner requested changes? Because that is where they get you. If you sign off for A, B and C and then you ask for E and M, forget it. The price of your house just doubled,” I explain. “Really? I have had a few but the builder keeps telling me it will be okay,” Dr. Froggy says. “Well, maybe, but thankfully you're not at the year mark yet, so there is time,” I reply. "What happens after a year?" he asks. "Most clients have it built into their contract that liquidated damages kick in after a year. You have that right?"
Dr. Froggy looks puzzled and then says, “No. And they started construction LAST January, not this year, but LAST year.” I almost spit out my water. The Taj Mahal was on a faster construction schedule than this damn P. Diddy styled McMansion. “What? This has been going on for two years? You need to fire your architect,” I say. “I don’t have one,” he replies. “What?" I ask horrified. He is a Contractor's dreamboat. I know plenty of folks who build their houses without an architect and then suffer a woeful agony when they are price gouged and left with a house that is 80% complete. Desi Girl’s PSA: Always hire an architect. On an architectural project they operate like an attorney, someone to advocate for your project and pocketbook against a Contractor. “No, I just have a builder,” he replies. “Well, then you deserve to suffer. You are basically designing your house like a surgeon removing a gall bladder with a rusty oyster fork. I cannot have sympathy for you when you didn’t safe guard yourself."
Dr. Froggy laughs and leans into the table, “You’re feisty I like it…and I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed the weekend and am wondering if you’d like to visit me next?”