As we had made the decision to work with Aaron and California Homes early in the piece, much of the tension was taken out of the way a project normally proceeds. There was no tender process to select the best price, we knew Aaron was the best fit for the project and was the obvious choice. But like many of my clients, I’m worried that we have to put our complete trust in Aaron, trust is all we have got to rely on. And that can be a scary place.

In a standard situation, we would have gone through a procurement phase to select a builder, driving tension into the pricing aspect – selecting multiple prices from suppliers, subcontractors etc. Although we have already chosen Aaron we still have room to move when it comes to subcontractors so we have made the decision that we would directly commission the structure, the painter and the joiner amongst others. In fact, at a guess, I would say at least one third of subcontractors will be directly supplied by us. This has allowed us to drive some tension into those aspects of the budget, and it means we can assess every quote as it comes in and decide if we are prepared to accept it.

However, it does mean we will never know the full cost of the build until the final bill and, as anyone would, I can’t help but be worried about this. No-one can predict the future and you never know when something might pop up requiring urgent funds; the car might break-down, a family member may need financial assistance or fall ill. Financing these things can be difficult in the best of times but when you are awaiting a bill for an unknown sum, it can become even harder. We need to continue to put our trust in Aaron and our budget and hope there are no costly issues onsite!

While the bach is a legacy for our family, the reality is, it has been financed by funds earmarked for our retirement. Although we are trying to see it as a transfer of wealth, as an opportunity, it still stresses me out! I am fully aware that the more we spend from the retirement fund, the longer I must work to ensure Ange and I can retire comfortably. But how much longer will I have to work? I guess we will have to wait until that final bill comes in!

As we are dealing with a lot of subcontractors directly, many of whom I work with on a professional basis, I am conscious how important it is to separate the professional and the personal. I do not want to be seen as gaining from the project or benefiting from these professional relationships. We have endeavored to keep CAA projects completely detached from the bach work.

It has been interesting working with these subcontractors on such a different project that CAA’s norm, it is almost the antithesis of what we currently live in and some suppliers are struggling with that. We have had to convince them of what we want, ‘if it is the right fit for our home in Merivale then it is not suitable for the bach!’.

I have found this a struggle, other people’s expectations of what we should want. Do people have a preconceived idea of what and who I am based on my architectural work? What does this mean for our clients? Have I simply become a reflection of other people’s perceptions of me, of what they expect? I hope that our bach will show who we really are and be a true reflection of our values and base principals.

Published on Friday, March 3rd, 2017