Our office exclusively uses standard agreements for our projects through the American Institute of Architects. I like them – they’re well written, they’re concise, and they’re easy to understand. For me, they provide an excellent outline of what I’m supposed to do to get the job done. Although the contracts are mutually fair, the words on the page may be more helpful to me than to the client. The section on “Owner Requirements” is very short: generally, it says that you will tell us what you need, and that you will pay us for our services in getting you there.
And our office is committed to doing our list of things to do, as spelled out. I love lists, and it’s hard to stop once you start on a really good list.
A contract is a kind of promise. But, it’s a promise in a real world where almost everything will go wrong, except when two parties agree to make it go right in a specific way. In fact, I think that’s what the contract is, a commitment to do something right together despite the odds. I’m agreeing to stand against entropy, in a limited scope, for pay.
However, we’re seeing the risk of all this now. Entropy is dangerous. When we’re not paid, we’re left standing in someone else’s battlefield without resources. I don’t think this is being overly dramatic. If I joined the navy to see the world, I think this is the part they don’t show on the posters. Our best option is to get hired for the next field as soon as possible and find a way to get out of this one. There’s a temptation to accept something even riskier if it comes soon enough, but here’s to hoping we’ve learned a few things.
I signed a new contract today. We’re thrilled – we really are. Anyone who knows our client loves him. His smile and purpose are contagious. His hugs leave you thinking you don’t need any other friends. The risk is familiar, but I don’t think we’ll be left standing alone.
Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
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