For the first time in a long while, I have two projects in various stages of construction. Two projects. How did that happen?
At one, they’re installing kitchen cabinets and painting the exterior. Between both of those and the interior changes, the house couldn’t look more different. The other project just had the slab poured for the addition, plus the interior demolition work has been completed – including a little more than intended. Oops! Now we’re waiting for some decent weather before part of the roof comes off for the second-floor addition.
And while both projects couldn’t be more different in terms of scope and budget, my anxiety around each couldn’t be more the same.
As architects, I like to think we project a calm and confident persona. Perhaps that’s why so many of us wear black. (Either that or because it’s slimming.) And by the time construction starts, we’ve not only drawn multiple iterations of the design, we’ve worked through the details while awake and asleep. We know what each project will look like at the end. When all is said and done, I know what I’m going to see.
Except I suspect architects are as anxious or even more so than the clients. We just aren’t willing to admit it.
While we aren’t paying the construction invoices or at the end of the day, living or working in the projects we’ve designed, architects are as invested as any owner. I would like to believe I’m not and may pretend I’m not. But I know better.
From the moment ground is broken or demolition starts, I am anxiously awaiting the end of the project. As I told one client recently, I feel like I’m giving birth. Except it’s months of labor, and I don’t get an epidural.
In the past, I’ve taken more than one client out for drinks and dinner during the course of construction to help talk them off a ledge. No matter how smooth a project goes, we always have that moment where the client’s anxiety comes to the surface, and we do our best to even out their nerves. I’m not sure how I managed this during my own home renovation. I’ll have to ask James, who will probably just say: “Vodka.”
However, anxiety aside, I am thrilled to have both projects under way. And if you asked any architect, they would tell you the same about their own. There’s something magical about seeing your design unfold week after week until you can step back and enjoy the finished product. But for now, I’ll just keep telling myself to breathe. And see if I can get my hands on an epidural.