RE: architects
From: Buzz Burrell (
Date: Mon, 15 May 95 00:16 CDT
Thomas Leach gave an example of a young couple who apparantly did not know the
first thing about property development, and then wrote,
<< A simple visit with an experienced planning consultant could have saved
these folks about $50,000 of wasted money, time and effort ...>>

I have nothing against architects, but feel the need to point out that in the
example given, since their land had no water or sewar system, their next door
neighbor probably could have told them the same thing.  Having no water is a
fairly fundemental priciple that many people without college degrees understand.
I'm glad Thomas helped them out, but please do not extrapolate from that example
the need to pay a professional in order to figure out what to do with your

In counterpoint, one could probably give many more examples;  here is a quick
About 15 years ago, due to high rents, I decided to build a commercial building
for my small retail business.  I knew what I wanted, and how much money I could
raise.  With that simple formula, I went to an architect and told him to get on
it.  He said "no way".  I went to another one, and he said "completely
impossible".  They were honorable people, and so they wouldn't take my money for
a project that couldn't be done considering the size of building I needed and
the funds I had.
So I went to the library, checked out a book on carpentry, had a friend show me
how to use his drafting table, and two weeks later had a set of prints.  The
bank approved them, we let out the bids, the lowest came in 5% UNDER my budget,
and 5 months later I moved the store in.  It was as simple as that.

There are thousand's of story's like mine.  They appear regarding all the
professions (particularly in the medical field, which are much more horrible).
There are also thousands of storys such as Thomas's whereby if only the poor
saps would have "consulted a professional"  much grief would have been saved.
*Both sides have validity*
Therefor, to say "you must always use a professional or you will screw up" is
factually idiotic, besides being self-serving, but by the same logic, to say
"never consult a professional" is equally myopic.  Rather than hard rules, when
I'm faced with the question of how to proceed, my course of action depends on
the following factors:

1. Your own resourcefullness, attitude, and enthusiasm (this is primary, since
you can learn everything else).
2. Your own ability ("your" may be singular or refer to "your group")
3. The ability, attitude, and cost of the professionals available to you
4. The difficulty and complexity of the project
5. The degree to which regulatory authorities are breathing down your neck
6. The fabled TIME/MONEY ratio:  which do you have more of?
7. Your ADVENTURE COEFFICIENT:  Is doing something you've never done before a
complete hassle or is it fun?

Go down the checklist, and then decide whether to work your job and pay somebody
to help, or to make the project your job.

The key thing, IMNSHO, is that how you manifest yourself in this world be your
choice.  If a group decides to hire a coho consultant, a business manager, a
site designer, etc, etc, because they feel that is the best way for them to get
what they want, that's terrific.  If a group decides that because they have been
told they have to, it won't work any other way, they will screw it up
themselves, then something is really wrong.  Professionals can help us, or they
can dis-empower us, and the later can come in the guise of the former quite

The major professional trade associations have a nightmarish record in the
United States - look at our legal, medical, and building industrys, and ask "who
is being served?"  The answere, the situation in America today, is not a rousing
tribute to our professional service providers.
History instructs us to evaluate our professionals carefully (for an architect,
start with the fellow who wrote the "some of us care" posting!)  I think we can
help our architects and planners by empowering ourselves, educating ourselves
(just as many people have done with their own health care), knowing what we
want, and communicating that to the professionals we choose to work with.  

Sorry for the tirade;  I must admit that I get cranked up when I sense people
closing down their options, or having them closed down for them.  I think we can
do whatever we choose to do, and I really support people proceeding in whatever
fashion is best for them.
Buzz Burrell

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