“Where am I supposed to plug in my computer?” asked the owner’s Food Service Director as we surveyed the room.
“Oh, we did not realize you would be using a computer in the storage room,” I said. I thought she had confused this storage room with her new office, which was located in another area.
“This is not a storage room,” she replied. “It’s my office. I told the kitchen consultant that I wanted this room to be my office. I did not want my office in the other area. He said he would take care of it.”
When I looked at the food service equipment drawings, I realized the kitchen consultant really had changed this space from a storage room to an office, just as the Food Service Director requested. Unfortunately, he did not share the information about the request with anyone else, so the room had architectural, mechanical, and electrical features that were appropriate for storage use and not for office use.
Consultants should report back to the architect any owner requests to them for design changes. The changes could lead to other changes, and the overall costs and consequences may be such that the owner – once aware of them – would make a different decision. Consulting agreements can include provisions for reporting separate meetings and communications with the owner. It is also good practice to cover communication protocols in project kick-off meetings and to issue periodic reminders, especially when you are aware of a possible upcoming meeting between a consultant and a representative of your client. The clients may also benefit from reminders about communication protocols and communication channels for requesting changes.