One of the things that is less apparent to those outside architecture is that we provide more than just a technical or design service. Often we deal with clients who are unfamiliar with the building process, or who are familiar with one part of it but not the processes of Planning and Building Control. For these people we need to give more. We become an interpreter, we provide explanations and describe the options available but also we become a source of reassurance and support. For those who need this, whether they are a small builder making the step up to contractor or a private individual, it is often a very significant investment and one that they need to run to a tightly controlled budget. When the the apparently intransigent bodies that oversee building become involved they can have trouble realising that what sounds like a definite statement is not necessarily so and that the architect can negotiate and develop a solution that will please both the authority and themselves.
Essentially this is a social support, we help them through the process of building and try to remove the issues that face them or resolve them. It sometimes takes a lot of patience and time on the phone that we would rather be using to do more “important” work. However to that client there is nothing more important than their job and so we try to act accordingly.