As we arrive on-site for a meeting at Wormwood House, the clients, Robert and Judith, are already there and are chatting with Edward the builder. “We’ve just been talking about the meaning of life itself!” Edward jokes. Their relationship has a contractual element, but their interactions on and around the building also encompass other interests and concerns. Later in the week Robert and Judith reflect on the relationship at the heart of the build, over a drink in their local pub. From the start of the project, they knew they had a limited budget to work within, but also that it was crucial to “get the right person.” Considerations of character, ethos, and approach were an important element of the selection process, once the tender quotes came back. Robert explains: “We wanted to get a feel for them as people, really. You know, it’s a major project, we needed to choose somebody that we felt we could work with, and we wanted to feel like they engaged with what we were looking for…. We wanted the builder to be enthused by the site and really latch on to what we were trying to create. That was important, wasn’t it?” Judith agrees: “Edward seemed calm, confident—you felt you were in safe hands.” As a client, there is no contractual reason for her to be involved in site meetings, but she normally goes along anyway. She lives locally and occasionally looks in at other times: “Just to see how things are progressing…. I’m interested in getting to know the builders a little bit, and there’s different people that come on-site, and it’s nice to have a bit more of a relationship with them—to know what’s going on, and chat to them a little bit.” Robert’s work takes him away during the week, and he visits less frequently, though he agrees, “It’s nice to know who’s building your house.” Judith continues, “Well, it is, and, you know, they’re working really ...
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