The D Word

The D Word.

As a Designer/Contractor, probably one of THE most hated words - Deficiencies.

Although it’s a good feeling to have a project so close to completion, it can also be the most painful part of the project when dealing with clients. This is the part where you need to leave them, take their final balance and address their project's issues– both reasonable and unreasonable.

It can be hard being so close to the finish line, but also feel so far away.  This is also the part where you either win the client for future referrals or lose them if deficiencies are not handled correctly. You may not even be the one to blame here, but if all parties are not working toward the successful completion of the project, you feel the brunt of burden. As they say in this industry, you are only as good as your last f**k up.

For many reasons, since Covid reared its ugly head, deficiency management and execution have been lagging. Across the many designers, contractors, architects and industry professionals we’ve spoken to, Field trades and PM teams are dropping the ball; dates are being pushed out and responsibilities and accountabilities have slowed down.

Many peers are complaining and there seems to be the same issues across the board:

  • lack of skilled trades
  • inconsistent workflow
  • busy workforce

After years of dealing with deficiencies with both happy and unhappy clients, here are 5 lessons we’ve learned to help this rather unpleasant phase run as smooth as possible:

  • Give weekly updates to clients even if nothing is happening.
  • Hand over the deficiency phase of the project to a new team member if possible to manage. Fresh eyes may create a better-phased approach with the team and client.
  • Create a warranty program and booklet for the client and explain their complete project's warranty, care and maintenance.
  • Have the client sign off on a final list of Deficiencies 30 days after move-in. Once signed, everything outside this list gets added to a WARRANTY list.
  • Provide clients with a final internal survey to complete regarding their experience working with you - use this opportunity to understand your shortfalls, pain points and success stories. You can do this through Mailchimp or survey monkey.

So the next time your project reaches the Deficiency stage, we hope you keep these tips in mind and know that we are all feeling the same strain.