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ArchitectsPortraits of a Practice$
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Thomas Yarrow

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501738494

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501738494.001.0001

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At the Limits of the Contract

At the Limits of the Contract

(p.199) At the Limits of the Contract

Thomas Yarrow

Cornell University Press

On a site meeting at Wormwood House, the groundworks are completed and the stud walls are in construction. Edward, the builder, is unfazed by a minor amendment to the plan, resulting from a client change of mind: they want to move a window. “It might cause a small delay, but we will try to make it up.” Edward sees this as part of the “give and take” of building. Rob pushes for clarity: “It’s a design variation, so in the worst-case scenario what would it cost?” he asks. Later, in the car on the way back, he describes the balance inherent in managing interactions on-site—between what’s “contractual” and what’s “sensible and friendly.” For a project to run smoothly, it is important to cultivate good working relationships: the architect tries to accommodate and be flexible if things are built other than to the plan. In return, the builder might accommodate small changes without additional costs. “Often it works best to be friendly and a bit jokey—to keep a positive dynamic,” he tells me, recognizing the instrumental importance of ...

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