Sooner or later, any contractor-architect relationship risks foundering on the shores of pricing. It's inevitable. What the architect wants the project to cost and what the contractor fears it will cost occasionally cannot be reconciled. This quandary often ends with the architect concluding that the contractor is just charging too much and deciding to put the project out to bid (if it's not already out to bid).

But a contractor who charges more than someone else is not necessarily charging too much. Given some of the entrenched habits of our industry, it's at least as likely that the other contractor is charging too little. Too little, that is, to be able to do a good job with the task at hand. So, while competitive bidding may weed out an overpriced...

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