Alma's Story: Sometimes you just know

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We just left off with Budget Is What Budget Does… well this posting will help with any clarifications.

I ran into a colleague of mine recently and he shared with me a story about a client that I was interviewed by 6 months earlier.  Let’s call her Alma. At the time of our initial meetings, I knew that I wanted the job because of its style demands, yet I knew that I really didn’t want the job.  Sometimes you just know.  For one, and one reason only, she was going to be very difficult.  Like the sign at the auto mechanics shop for hourly rates:

Price for labor

Price for labor if you watch

Price for labor if you help

She had remodeled her own home, and it looked like it. An eclectic combination of eras, worldly styles, and personal touches that was all placed into an original stucco box at the beach. Not one room had any rhyme or reason nor any relation to any other room in the entire house. The outside had fresh paint over facia that was held together by termite snot. Pretty picture, huh. But her perceived knowledge of construction was the one thing that would ultimately isolate her from ever being able to achieve her goal. She thought she knew more than me.  Sometimes you just know.  And this was one of them.

There was also the sound of a grinding wheel in the background every time I visited Alma. She was determined to get a very specific project at a less than conventional price. She was well rehearsed in many topics which made conversing with her easy but reasoning with her impossible. She really couldn’t understand how a custom home should cost more than a spec home. What was really going on was a refusal of a reality. She was going to find someone to agree with her reality so that her fantasy could begin. Only her fantasy may become a nightmare. Oh, that grinding sound, was her M.O. for her trying to realize her goal, at everyone else’s expense.

My colleague kept telling me that Alma wanted a Lazar home. Those were her exact words. He replied simply,” then why don’t you hire Lazar?” She paused, “owe we had numerous meetings, but you see he wouldn’t do it for my price.” Remember the posting called It Cost What It Cost, well she didn’t. His quote and mine were only 1% apart. He didn’t get the job either.

Have you ever gone to a car dealership a requested the “top of the line” vehicle but only were willing to pay for the “entry level.” I doubt your request was honored. You were either educated as to the differences of the 2 vehicles, and the prices, or presented the option of a used “top of the line.”  Even with cars, watches, jewelry, and artwork, it cost what it cost or you get something else.

Sure some haggling can take place in all these arenas, but everything ultimately has a price… even a house.  The cost of your house is the cost of your house. Not your neighbor’s house. Not your parent’s house.  Not your best friend’s house.

Well she has found her team that is going to design and build her replica Lazar home. And better yet she has been able to get it priced, or at least quoted, for 20% off her original starting point. WOW. Wonder what it will end up looking like, how long it will really take, and with what cost overruns. Doesn’t this whole scenario sound eerily similar to the last posting where the owner, Alma, and a greener than green general contractor are going to do it together.  This is the set-up for one of 2 things…which do you think it will be?

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Cite: Steve Lazar. "Alma's Story: Sometimes you just know" 25 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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