The nitty and the gritty Melancholy Monday
Slightly melancholy Monday. Everyone feels as though they have too much work to do and too little time to do it. Today the client for Kelross Road blew up in our face about the fee that they received from the QS. They claimed that they didn’t realise it was going to come to 10 grand. They had accepted the fee based on a percentage of the contract, and the contract sum and increased. They also claimed that they thought we were going to produce the schedule of works even though in the letter it clearly stated that the QS was appointed to do this. One of the guys remarked that this must be how these people get so much money in the first place, they are relentless, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I’ve got a quote ringing in my ears which I heard earlier while checking my twitter feed. “Can architects be employed by communities rather than capital?” It seems that working within the private residential sector, the clients have a certain set of ambitions, not all of which I agree with. Another example, today we had feedback from the client at Ferncroft avenue concerning our latest proposal. We are taking the basement back a long way and excavating the garden so it can be opened out onto from the basement level. There is a real opportunity to make something of the living area, it can involve a double height space so that you live at more than one level with varying degrees of privacy, some opening onto the terrace, some directly into the garden. However the client came back wanting to just get another bedroom suite in there and forget about it, despite already having over half a dozen enormous bedrooms in there. There is no sense of and kind of qualitative ambition for his scheme. He want bedrooms, and he’s going to get them. It’s like an essex mansion, a series of gratuitously sized bedroom suites, each with a private en suite, accessed off a corridor which shows little or no generosity given the scope of the project. Maybe I should try and produce some really unbelievable perspective to convince the guy.
Today I dealt with the re-design of Ferncroft. Went for a more efficient plan around a gallery landing. Weird consequence of Richard being busy is that as the part 1 I have ended up actually designing this project now almost! Got a lot of flak back from the planners about Cotswold way. They initially made a mistake by advising us to split the application into one householder planning app’ and one lawful development app’. This was false advice and it should all have been a householder. Now I am spending time messing around with re-submitting various drawings and not others. They came back to me because the drawings I had submitted on the latest application had information on from the other part of the application which they have previously approved. The fact that they have previously approved it doesn’t matter, they still just wrote us a letter saying to change the annotations and also that we haven’t paid them anything, even though we are not supposed to be charged for this.
Cybically, you could say that all our clients essentially just want a version of this. Are we just designing the same extension a couple of hundred times?
Acronyms and AutoCad
Got all the stuff for Kelross road off at the end of last week. Big rush before the bank holiday as the client is pushing to get everything moving as soon as possible. I calculated my hours today to bill the client and I had spent 51 hours altogether on the redesign of that project after the planning mess up. Richard spent 15 basically just liaising with people. But we managed to get the scheme to the QS in time after all and they sent through the schedules to the client. I now have a bit of a window while that has gone out to tender. We got something out to the client for Ferncroft avenue today. THis has been through many redesigns now. Today I spent the whole time cleaning the drawing up and putting it into our new format. Working with drawings in a constant state of bodges and manic layers all over the place, and without the existing drawing underneath (so that you know if something is where it is for a reason) just to get it done slap dash is a complete false economy. I am confident that when we move to doing the tender drawings for ferncroft then it will be a much more efficient process now having sorted those out once and for all. The thing that makes the biggest difference is having the original drawing underneath because then you can properly make rational decisions about where the new things are in relation to the old.
Had a CPD today about CDM coordination. Slowly becoming immersed in acronyms. Rhodri referred to the sub-contractor for some bathrooms as a â€œsubbieâ€? the other day. That I like. CMDPMs not so much. The guy had a fair amount of common sense, and we had a good Q & A session with him. What we essentially wanted to wrest out of him was, having built flat glazed rooflights over half of London, how liable are we if someone falls through it when they have to clean it? And going forward what should we do? The health and safety guy suggested fold up balustrades at one point which is ridiculous for private residential projects. Eventually we reached the conclusion that fixings for access equipment to be attached to when maintenance is happening is the way forward, as is already the regs in Scotland. So it looks like the Lipton Plant home extension will now feature the odd hook for attaching ladders to.
A new face
New part II started at the beginning of this week. Lovely Irish girl. Good to have a fresh face in the office and I think it has lifted the mood a fair bit actually. Not least to say that it will take the pressure off everyone else a bit now that there are 7.5 extra woman hours per day going into the same workload. She has more experience than me as well so even better. Had the time to produce a 3d image for Kelross today now that the heat is off with preparing the tender package. I set up the perspective on sketchup, traced over it on A3 trace, photocopied that and drew into it a bit more. This iterative process worked ok and I think one more layer of detail, scanning in and some rudimentary photoshop will create a good sketchy visual for the client to see. I feel satisfied that I wasn’t spending forever on the model in itself. It was just to get the key parts of the perspective right, and then the view was detailed up by hand on my A3 drawing board, which completely got rid of that sketchup aesthetic we all know and love. Will use black fineliner for the original tracing next time, more pencil in the later details, and more grey felt tips for the shading.
Moving on to preparing a tender package for Wallace road with Christiane. I also helped submit a planning application for Corrine Road. The survey for Grange Grove has come back. In the team meeting today it was said that I am going to go through what to do about that with Ed and Jonny later this week, so I need to find the time to translate that survey at some point as best as I can ready for when we go through that. Ed mentioned that when Conisbee the engineering lot get our drawings that they do not translate it. They just use it as a reference and so their thing on top of it. Maybe we could consider doing something like that. But in the grand scheme of things it is worth properly doing the survey of a project. I think we need to be able to manipulate the existing stuff properly in order to get it looking right and so on. This is the difference when you are an architect. You need to be able to persuade a multitude of different parties that what you are doing is right, and the drawings need to be legible for clients, tendering contractors, etc. The engineers just need to size a few steels and foundations. We get stuff back from Tim Atwood which is just a scan of our plans with some pencil on it, and a list of dimensions.
Been hassling a planner today to no avail for an application which has gone wrong for 57 Cotswold way. They incorrectly advised us to split the application into two separate applications, one for PD, and this was not valid which resulted in us having to resubmit in a situation where it would probably have been approved by now at the planner’s own admission. The surveys I arranged have all gone well. That was pretty easy but I need to improve on how I keep the clients involved on what’s going on because I probably should’ve CCed them into a few emails and they were left in the dark a bit.
The survey drawings for Grange Grove, translated into our layer system. These existing drawings are actually the result of fastidious autocad technique to make them useful for us.
Details for Wallace Road
So pretty much all of today I spent preparing the detailed information for the Wallace Road bathrooms. Tomorrow schedules, joinery drawings and so on. I seemed to slow down a fair bit after the team meeting. Christiane was too busy to talk to me about it so I ended up faffing about with the new lineweight system trying to get that looking right. Apparently the client for Ferncroft is finally ready to accept defeat and let us put the scheme in to planning. I’ve just been thinking about how most of what I do is concerned with drawing work and I need to find a way to get familiar with the figures. In the meeting they are saying things like ‘the two QSs came back with 372 and 380, which is really good and I couldn’t believe the clients said that was too much. I suppose the clients always want something for nothing so I am not surprised. But I have no idea as to how to get a grasp of whether 372 is a decent figure for a project. Could be 400k. Could be 350k. I have no idea. What matters more? Architectural integrity, or who takes their turn to make the tea? It’s funny how a practice is actually glued together by the thousands of small gestures that go on in the workplace. I suppose it’s the same with the running of a lot of commercial activity. But in the office I have experience of, these things matter as much as anything else. We had a move around of the office to accommodate the extra person, and this caused a few things to go into meltdown. Before we were on one giant table. Now we are on two islands and it’s taking some getting used to. Alex the office manager is on her own in the middle, and she was struggling to get everyone else to answer her phone when she was busy because we sort of have our backs to her. Maybe I will put a wing mirror on my monitor screen so I can check behind me when the phone rings. So there we go. Did Louis Kahn think about that kind of thing. Probably, to be fair.
The preparing of a tender package... I am working on Wallace road’s tender information still today. I believe there may be more room for standardisation in what we do. I spent a lot of time looking at Mike’s drawings for the joinery in Woodsome Road. We very much have a house style. White spray painted MDF custom joinery around chimney breasts and so on is the norm. Why draw it all over again and again? Mike is currently working on a set of standard CAD blocks to be inserted for standard sized bits of furniture and so on. But is there room for a set of stretchable CAD blocks for certain common types of joinery, shelving with cabinetry, walk in wardrobes, bathroom cabinetry. I must have drawn roughly the same bit of mirrored bathroom cabinetry umpteen times, there has to be a better way. I think the preparation of out tender information could be sped up considering that we have such a uniform house style. But tomorrow I will have more joinery to draw, some of it cobbled together with any suitable projects off the top of my head that I know have some good details. Account code: SE00MUN Account address Helen Munn 8 Gallia Road London N5 1LA
Quote number: Quote date:
Your reference MASTER Your salesperson Jana Klootwyk
Delivery address Helen Munn 1 Wallace Road London N1 2PG
We guarantee not to be beaten on price on like-for-like products See cphart.co.uk/price_promise for more details
Telephone no. 020 7902 5218 Fax no. 020 7902 1030
Email address email@example.com
Page 1 of 4 QTY UNIT
***STOCK LINES RETURN POLICY*** ****STOCK PRODUCT LINES ARE**** ****SUBJECT TO A 25% HANDLING CHARGE*** ***WHEN RETURNED IN ORIGINAL CONDITION* *************************************** ***ANY DAMAGES MUST BE REPORTED******** ***WITHIN 48 HOURS*********************
****NON STOCK ITEM**** ***NON-CANCELABLE**** ******NON STOCK ITEMS****** PREFIX Z, ZZ OR "SPECIAL ITEM" PRODUCTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE & NON-RETURNABLE ***************************
DELIVERY CHARGE (SE1 Bathrooms)
================================================== MASTER BATHROOM ================================================== BATH & COMPONENTS ================================================== JAZZ FOUR STEEL BATH 180X80CM NTH WHITE (P800)
<SET> ORIGINAL BATH SHOWER MIXER CHROME
>COMPRISING ORIGINAL BSM BODY & UNIONS CHROME
ORIGINAL/WATERLOO HANDSHOWER & CRADLE CHROME
Telephone Sales 0845 600 1950, Customer Liaison 0845 600 1960, Head Office 020 7902 1000, Fax 020 7902 1030 Registered Office:Unit 40 Charles Park, Crossways Boulevard, Crossways, Dartford, Kent DA2 6QA Registered in England No 889832 VAT No. GB 918 1724 20 C.P. Hart's standard Terms & Conditions apply
This thrilling looking document is a bathroom spec. Nortsomething I’ve seen much of before now, thankfully. But I better get used to them.
Tender plan for Wallace Road
This was the Ground floor plan in the tender package for Wallace Road. Iâ€™m getting used to reading this level of information off drawings. This is a good example of the working drawings of our practice at this stage.