What happens when a client doesn’t involve his trusted architect during construction phase

Most people reach me out with the intention of building beautiful contemporary homes, based on specific ideas they like and count with clear references of what they want: pictures from magazines, web, etc. In Costa Rica, most architects understand this style very well, but not most contractors. Including foreigners and locals. They see something different from the usual ( same old version of “neo colonnial” style ) and just like that they raise the price, due to their inexperience. Here is a proof of what happened in spite of having detailed renderings and blueprints.

Here’s an example. Anandakanda is a project that was rendered like this…

Tropical architecture in Santa Ana, Costa Rica


Interior design in the tropics, simple concrete bar with water repellent additives.


Original minimalist bar and kitchen design


If the same material is used all every wall, you achieve the minimalist design you want.


An inexpensive light detail enhances the natural beauty of rough materials

opcion 1

Minimalist option 1 for the bathroom

opcion 2

Minimalist option 2 for the bathroom, incorporating built in furniture is less expensive than buying less aesthetic cabinets.

…and ended up being built like this.

Some architectural details that provide the facade with it’s composition were removed: perimeter metal fascia.

pagsi mal 2

Granite is not an inexpensive material, this is not out of the box design

pagsi mal 3

The bar does not compare to what was previously designed and approved by client, who wanted a minimalist design

Not a minimalist bath to me…with excess of labor due to the existence of 3 different materials on a wall

pagsi mal 5

Irregular window shapes, like the one to the left, increase the budget. Glass louvers proposed by client exclusively in the original design were less expensive than this swing version.

In my opinion, the aesthetics have nothing to do with what my client asked for and payed for. By influence of third parties I was left out the construction phase, and couldn’t provide my expertise on design, budget and construction materials in the tropics. Indirect costs, change orders and unforeseen charges in a construction agreement, really mean a high cost in a budget than building what was originally designed.

The lesson is this: if you trust your architect, keep trusting her/him until the end. Having blueprints done is only half the way of the project. It would be like not letting a musician play in public her/his composition. Once the construction phase starts the process will get more difficult to understand and if you stop listening to your architect, things will get more and more confusing, if you have no guidance. You may end up giving up to your desired design, and pleasing somebody’s  else convenience. Unfair competition, the contractor’s interests and budget manipulation may be one of the many facts that will deplete the original project. Aesthetic and functional successful projects have always a good architectural direction behind. Beware of making changes to the original design during construction phase, you may end up with a house that doesn’t look like in the renderings!

  1. Larry Marin said:

    Excellent article
    You are without doubt my architect of choice when we are ready to build.

    Pat & Larry

  2. Peter said:

    I agree that having a contractor that understands modern building techniques is absolutely necessary to complete the vision of the owner and the architect. like your designs. I can’t wait to get the project started in Puerto.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: