The Stupid, It Burns!

I don’t often comment with regards work, but the events of the last few weeks have become so surreal that comment is necessary – if only to prevent a further slip into a madness almost Lovecraftian in its complexity.

The customer is always right.

Actually, the customer always think they are right – which is why they pay money to us professionals to do the hard thinking for them when it comes to specialist matters. This is especially true when they want to save money, professions such as my own often cost less money in the long run because we can see the mistakes they are going to make with their present course of action before they make them.

This money saving is of special importance in these hard financial times, and one would think that when a company only continues to exist because its former owner re-capitalised them after they failed to keep track of their yearly financial expenditure that they’d keep a tighter reign on what they were spending now. I’m not going to name any names, but if one were to look at major companies in the north of Greater Manchester you wouldn’t be to far wrong.

However I digress. The point is that this company is now in the process of rebranding its image following the acquisition of fifty percent of the properties owned by the former (now financially unstable) company. This has been capitalised by the buyer buying the profitable side of the company back for less than a quarter of what they sold it for. Part of this rebranding takes the form of a new property portfolio which they can use as a springboard for advertising the business to future investors – all good stuff when the former company has acquired a reputation for not investing wisely.

Given this, it was fair to expect a number of changes to their first properties as they attempted to develop this image. On average a job of this value will generate somewhere in the region of a dozen changes at most as things are fine tuned on site, so it was fair to expect perhaps double this – especially as the Client was unwilling to sit down with us beforehand and address potential changes that we could foresee (such as the fact that all previous finishes no longer matched their current corporate colours. We are now up to nearly ten times this number of changes, some elements (wall colours for example) have now changed half-a-dozen times themselves, fine on a domestic level but with the scale of building we are talking about here that takes days to realise. Furthermore the Client seems unfazed by the fact that all this is going to cost them money, or at least is going to cost them far more than it would if they had sat down with us when we asked them and looked at this in greater detail.

Part of the problem is that they haven’t implemented a proper corporate structure at the moment so decisions are being made by whoever shouts loudest at their property department who then pass all of these wonders on to us. We’ve tried pointing out that this is a) Stupid, b) Going to cost them a lot of money but this doesn’t seem to matter – we’re architects, what could we possibly know about the building trade?

Some of the wonders that have been requested;-

– Supply & install a Christmas Tree to the Foyer (why they couldn’t go out and buy one themselves I’ve yet to figure out)
– Change all of the light fittings to have red filters – yes, it looked as bad as it sounds.
– Install a long & complex ramp arrangement to the club to allow for pushchair access despite there being no crèche facilities and children not being allowed to use the other facilities.

However, the two best are in a league of their own and deserve explanation in further detail. The first includes the complete redesign of the facility to place the entrance as far away from public sight as possible – presumably to increase exclusivity and ease the workload for the poor staff – in order to avoid, well I’m not really sure? The building is half submerged anyway so wherever the Entrance goes it will require some major internal works in order to allow the public to use it – the biggest problem is that its already half built to the former plan and we’ve now had to tell the Contractor to down tools whilst the Client asks for a redesign that won’t work. Yes, we have tried telling them but we’re only architects yadda yadda yadda…

But, Ladies & Gentlemen I give the finest piece of flawed logic I’ve seen for years. So staggering is it’s insight that we can only gaze upon it and wonder.

We have a swimming pool. At the bottom of said pool is an advertisement for a competitor. Naturally our Client want it removed and replaced.

To drain the pool & remove it will take two days. To replace it will take a further day and refilling afterwards will take another day. The pool will be out of action for a grand total of four days.

The alternative is to employ specialist divers to replace the tiles without draining the pool. To remove the tiles will take two days. To replace the tiles will take a further two days, for a grand total of four days. During these four days because of the chemicals involved, debris and fucking divers in the pool the pool will be out of action.

One of these options can be done by any competent tiler. The other requires specialists that are so expensive to hire that it would need to be completely impractical to empty the pool (say for example the really deep pools that are used for training by NASA).

Any idea which they chose? Despite being told that it was going to cost a fortune?

Ladies & Gentlemen – The customer is always right…

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