Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The architect from hell

Brad and I are building a house. A beautiful house. A perfect house. Or at least it will be, once we start. We bought the property, looking at it three times before calling the real estate agent to meet us there. While we were waiting for him, we decided we wanted the lot BEHIND the one we originally thought we wanted. We bought it a week later. 
We met a guy, Mark from ARC Home Design (Arkansas Custom Home Design) at a home show this spring who designs houses, so we called him up. Set a meeting and took over a draft of what we wanted. And a list of things we needed him to add for us. It went well, with the promise to see something in a weeks time!
A week came and went. we waited over the weekend, giving him an extra day because of the holiday in May. That afternoon, I shoot an e-mail, "We're really excited to see something! Do you have anything to show us?" 
Two days later, the reply is, "Sorry, forgot to send it, I will get it to you tomorrow." Another day later (not the promised tomorrow) a plan is sent. OK, not bad. Except he forgot the door off the Master suite to the back deck. And the extra bathroom I asked him to try to fit in. And there are no stairs up to the bonus room. And really, those windows are too small. And we don't have any closets. Hmmm. 
We play with the design for a few days. We realize that the house is 7 feet too wide for the lot. We decide that if the master bath has a water closet, we may not need that extra half bath. We also find ways to shrink it down to the required width. We get the hand drawn changes back to him on Monday. I dropped them at his office, with a quick explanation, "We shrank the house, it cant be more than 62.8 feet wide. Also, we need to flip the entire floor plan. And we added the door of the master, and I think the stairs to the bonus room can fit here." "You want stairs?" he asks. I cock my head to the right, "How else would we get to the bonus room?" I reply. Hmmm. That may not be good.
We wait a week. If he promises the first draft in a week, he should be able to get the revisions done in a week. Week comes and goes. Nothing. I wait a few more days and send him an e-mail. "Hey, just checking on the status, also, once the floor plan is set, what else will we need to do? How long will all that take? Will you need to meet with us again? Thanks!"
Two days later, the reply comes, "Sorry, I'm covered up. I will get the changes to you soon." That was on the 17th. Another week passes. Nothing. I e-mail again. "Just checking the status of the project. We are planning on breaking ground no later than August 1st. Please let me know if you are able to accommodate this timeline." The next day, I hear back. "Sorry I havent gotten back to you, my father had a heart attack, I have been out of town. I will have changes to you by tomorrow afternoon." That was Wednesday, 25th. Of course, Thursday comes and goes. Friday at lunch, I decide to pay him a visit. 
I arrive at his office close to noon. Two ladies are sitting at his desk. "Is Mark here?" The younger lady replies, "No, he ran to pick up his niece." I close the door and wait outside.
Five minutes later, I decide I am too pissed to wait any longer, I go back inside. "I am a client of Marks, and he has some things I would like back." Older lady replies, "The folders are over there, get what you need." I open it up, take the neighborhood plot with our elevations, and grab the latest sheet of revisions, covered in my red ink. I put the folder back, and tell the ladies, "If you could, tell Mark that I took these, and that I will also be taking my business elsewhere." 
The two women burst into laughter. I stand, confused. Who are they? The young one answers the questions that I never asked. "Im sorry." she starts, "But when you walked in, I could tell from the look on your face that you think he's an idiot too! What did he do to you?" 
Wait, these two are clients also? "He wont make the changes we ask. He takes forever, and I can't wait." I say.
She proceeds to tell me that the other lady is her mother, who had to come in from Dallas in order to sort this guy out. He doesn't listen. Wont make the changes. And, the week before, her mom had flown in for a meeting, and he cancelled, saying he had a sinus infection. 
Interesting. I tell them that he said his father had a heart attack. They had not heard that one yet.
I leave, more pissed than I was when I arrived. I call Brad and tell him what happened. He wants to give the guy another chance. He mentions the deposit that we paid. I dont care. I refuse to give this guy another dollar. I had already found another designer, and was planning to let him take over. Brad says he will call him. 
A few hours later, Brad calls me. OK, Mark says he forgot to e-mail the changes, but says they are done. So he will send them by the end of today. Hmmm. If he had them done, he could send them now, not later. But whatever. 
Sure enough, a 4:57, I get an e-mail. The floor plan is wrong, all wrong. He managed to flip it, but nothing else was correct. As I had predicted, since I took our notes while he was gone, he wasnt able to make the changes that had been in his office for three weeks. I thought I wanted to be angry, but seeing that he couldnt do his job made me sad. 
I get home, and Brad calls him to inform him that he would be fired. Mark gets irate and starts cussing. He is defensive and refuses to accept responsibility. Brad hangs up on him. 
We moved on. Our new designer is working on the plan before the first is even fired. We are fine. And our new guy, Phillip Rye, says we will have a plan to take to the bank in two weeks. Three weeks shorter than what we spent with Mark. 
Monday, Mark sends me an e-mail. The opening line says, "Of all the pain in the ass clients I have ever had, I have never told anyone else to go stuff it. I am sorry for that." WOW, what an apology. He continues by offering to finish the work in two days. Start to finish everything. Nice. You had five weeks and couldnt produce shit, but now, you can do it in two. No thank you. 
And I tell him so in a not-so-nice reply. 
Sadly, that is the end of this very long story. The morale of which is, DO NOT USE ARC HOME DESIGN!