The wind is back in Bloubergstrand promising the return of summer. It gets very gusty this time of the year bringing back the kite surfers and filling our beaches. I have been assisting a few clients prepare for this season and the village is filled with hope and what it means for our local economy as we all feel the impact of inflation, load shedding and the last few years of restrictions.
THE DESIGN DILEMMA
I recently spoke at a professional event discussing the behavioural impact of changes in our macro and micro environment and how it will play out in our spaces. Professionals are focusing on being more creative with their resources as budgets have not increased, and we still need to keep raising the bar to deliver creative, functional spaces that deliver a unique and customised experience. It also limits the margin for error and creates demand for a high quality service.
I have a new project that I have been brought in quite late in the build for this very reason. The budget that remains is stretched and there are a number of errors that need to be rectified that could have been completely avoided. I needed to be quite resolute in my advice and uncompromising on some things because the design of the house is very contemporary. This requires the outcome to be simple and minimalistic, and some of the detail added feels out of place and possibly over thought.
CHECK THE PLAN
I realised during the onset of the project how important the beginning of any process is to allow people the time to align, solidify a concept, and plan. To keep changing things during a process is very costly and has a knock on effect to the entire design. It also creates a professional pressure to deliver because it affects the building programme which is unfortunate but understandable.
The importance of the start of the project cannot be underestimated; by now a trust would have developed and I would simply be able to move forward very quickly. Now each decision and every detail needs to be analysed and checked because of the impact on the site, high risk of error, and there is not an integrated plan that gives a full picture of the outcome. Every meeting is over an hour as things are debated and checked. This is all necessary but could have been avoided. It adds to the stress of a project and takes some of the joy out of it.
In comparison, I have another project that we planned together for about six months. A massive renovation where we have taken the roof of a house off, and added an entire floor reconfiguring the layout. It took a lot of detailed planning and costing; checking every detail and ensuring that there was sufficient budget for everything we wanted to do. At the beginning of this project, my clients were not sure what to expect but we have issued in excess of 120 drawings detailing every aspect of the build so that it comes out correctly.
There have only been minor changes on site that involved the architect, engineer and myself but everyone understood their role and what is required of them; in comparison to the many on site errors on the other site where roles are also blurred and not defined. It makes all the difference, this project will be completed before the end of the year. It started well after the latter project and will be finished well before. It has saved these clients an enormous amount of money and stress (although they may argue it has been stressful nonetheless, from where the professionals sit – for us it has just flowed).
Personally, I believe that there is a time just to do things and get it done. Take the plunge and move forward, and other times it is important to wait. I have recently added a new retail arm to my business and have found the added financial requirement led me to procrastinate. Managing risk is not easy and doing something new is a little scary, although exciting. The higher the risk the more you should plan and then at some point you have to commit. Put yourself out there and make it happen.
Then the pressure to get moving on something can also be overwhelming and this is where error can quickly creep in, and my game is a detail game – when the detail is not checked that is where things go wrong. Beams land up in the wrong place, old plans are used on site, doors incorrectly positioned and other building site horrors that waste time and money. Do not let the pressure of the moment force you ahead when you are not ready.
I am an ideas person but also a fixer. I like solving problems and moving ahead. I sometimes move quicker than those around me and that brings its own set of problems. I have found that the people closest to me are my greatest teachers and that it is extremely important to continually focus on your own self development and growth at every opportunity. Each situation brings something new to learn and if we absorb this knowledge, the rate at which we learn and move to the next space makes all the difference in our personal and professional lives.
I do not particularly like conflict and like consensual decision-making yet I find what is most required of me is to be completely honest and commit to what I think, as this facilitates progress and authenticity. It is important to listen to opinion and gather the nuggets this brings, but fundamentally you must make up your own mind and present your decision. Decisions can change but the authenticity of your views progresses those around you and this collective thinking is what improves an outcome.
When we all live in truth rather than go with the flow a better outcome emerges. Stop when you need to stop. Work when you should. Be still when it is required. Let it go when it needs to be let go. Listen to the quiet whisper. Trust your intuition. Miracles happen everyday. Never give up on your dreams. Embrace the process.