Client: "Give me a fixed price to design and build a building"

Designer: "Sure, what type of building? What facilities does it need? Where is it located? How many people do you want to be able to accommodate in it?"

Client: "Not sure yet... can you just stop asking questions and give me a fixed price?"

It's like agreeing a fixed price for a car and after being presented with a Skoda* you then demand a top of the range Bentley... "It's still a car and I agreed a fixed price for a car, not my fault you didn't provide me with what I wanted"!

Ok, I might be exaggerating a little, but almost every designer has had a similar conversation with a client in the past. In expert services, we often see cases relating to scopes of work and changes which happen after agreements are made. This is what causes disputes as the parties cannot agree when something is a change or not.

In reading the following insightful article by my colleagues Toby Hunt and Helen Collie, in Building Magazine, I am reminded of my graduate training that the client scoping document was one of the most important things we had. It was our way of pulling all of the information together that the client had advised us, and gave us the opportunity to identify gaps in the information before we started the design process.

As the HKA Crux Insight data shows disputes are caused by poor and incomplete definitions of scope of work. If clients, developers, contractors, designers and all others involved in procuring, designing and constructing buildings considered spending more time and effort at the start of a project to develop the project scope of work there would be far fewer disputes further down the line.

*side note - there is nothing wrong with a Skoda... if that's what you defined what you wanted!