Finest Worksong

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Fridge Note, Humanity is a virus, Shovels


I have been talking recently with a potential client, who owns a small, scattershot industrial building that is filled with a weird mix of tenants doing a weird mix of businesses, with a nearly incomprehensible of access and exiting that is pretty much not illuminated.

It’s not the first time I have been through the building.

NWS site

But the Owner, much as I like him personally, apparently figures I will be willing to work on the basis of a  couple of hundred bucks.  I AM NOT.

After going back and forth a bit, he keeps asking for me to do something shortsighted and cheap.  Here is my answer:

Andy-

A change of use resets the code to the requirements of the new use.  That is why they asked you for a Change of Use Analysis.  The use as furniture storage and showroom is treated differently in the code, and that’s why there is a need to review the new use in relation to the rest of the building.  Also, not having seen the history of the building, it is entirely possible that the prior use was not properly approved.  Which, of course is not your fault in any way.
You may be able to use that area as storage, although storage of furniture may also be problematic, and use as a showroom will be an entirely different aspect. Without an analysis on my part, I am unable to proffer a professional opinion on that.
I am unsure what you would need me to do, because your stated plans for the space are changing.  The building itself has gone through decades of incremental changes, that seem to have never been adequately assessed for code compliance. Conversion of a portion of the building to residential would STILL require analysis of the entire building for exiting and accessibility.
On a professional level, and with respect to my fiduciary duty to you as a client and the protection of public health and safety, not to mention in order to maintain my professional license and my liability insurance, I have an obligation to not only work on your behalf and in your best interest but to ensure that your building remains safe and occupiable and meets the standards of Milwaukee and State building codes.  In my prior experience, when clients insist on abbreviated scope of services, invariably we find that we have to do more work, most often finding ourselves performing the original scope of services, if not more, caused by trying to short cut things on the front end. The scope of services I have proposed is based on the years of experience I have in doing these kinds of things.  
After years of doing these kinds of projects, I have found that trying to shortcut, especially on the front end design and code elements invariably end up costing the Owner more money, resulting in blaming and bad blood.  
That is why I send out my proposals with an itemized estimate, so a potential client can see how my time would be broken down to various tasks.  When I look at them, I do not see any particular task that is not reasonably apportioned.
It seems to me that we may not be a good fit between client and professional.  I am not willing to provide you with a piecemeal approach to your building plans; invariably, I have found it results in more work that expands outside of the original scope of work.  
I really enjoyed meeting you and I like you on a personal basis during the brief time we met.  I also like your building a lot.  But on a professional level, I think we may not be the best fit.
Best regards and my sincere regrets.
Not sent yet.  Someone tell me that is wrong and ill-advised.
Maybe I shouldn’t watch the Walking Dead while writing these things.
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Comments
  1. Mikey Hemlok says:

    Seems to me to be entirely dependent on how much work is in the pipeline. If you’re looking as limited revenue over the next 6-12 months, it might make sense to propose something you can live with that still provides him with part of what he wants. If you don’t need the heartache, hit send…

    • well, not entirely. The thing is, he needs someone to pull his ass out of the fire, as he went forward with a new tenancy without checking codes or getting a permit, and is now unable to get a new occupancy permit. So it’s not a particularly rewarding job, although sometimes they lead to better work.

      But having been down this road with previous clients, I can tell that this will be extremely low margin, but the client will need a fair amount of attention. And having gone through this process before, extremely recently, I am clear on what tasks need to be completed and how much time that will take, and what I charge for it.

      So now he is trying to nickel and dime the effort, so not only will it be barely profitable at best, I expect getting payments will be 60-90 days out. If the checks don’t bounce.

      So it’s getting sent.

  2. Oddly, he has not responded to this email in any fashion. Which is weird, because he gave me all the drawings of the building in his possession. Oh well, when he finds somebody willing to work in his cheap fashion, he will chase me down, i am sure….

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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