If having understood what role the architect has within a project (see the article)has not clarified your ideas on what a professional actually does most of the time, you are in the right place. . If you think we are inundated with drawings and beautiful things 24 hours a day, unfortunately, too.

In fact, it often happens that not only do people not really know what I actually do, but that they are surprised at the end of the construction site, not imagining the amount of technical and coordination work behind the drawings.

I believe that not even this post will ever be able to prevent such surprises or lack of knowledge (it would be impossible to imagine that all my interlocutors go to read everything and always what my category writes), but I always try to inform and understand this complex world.

my typical day

I try to imagine a typical day. It’s a big generalization of course, all days are different in their composition. I have no fixed schedule to respect, I have to adapt to the rhythms / appointments of third parties and my agenda is being composed during the week, from time to time. There are days that I spend completely outside, and others completely on the computer.

// first morning:

Replies to clients’ emails

  • client A asks what is that lavoration included in the calculation, if I consider it necessary and if it will be realized or not;
  • client B has finally found the parquet of his dreams, he asks me which plank sizes are most suitable for the project, and if I would suggest more or less knots
  • client C wants to integrate an external brise-soleil into the project. Can this be done? Does the Municipality prohibit it? How much would it cost?

Answers to mails from artisans and businesses

  • the first company asks for the laying and final format of the bathroom tiles, to which I will answer with laying drawings and technical indications such as joints, materials etc.
  • the second company asks me for the diagram of the final electrical system agreed with the customer, in order to be able to make the demolitions
  • a craftsman asks me for details on the creation of the living room furniture. The marble is only available in 2 cm, and if I want to fit the thicknesses I have to understand where to bring the panels from 2.2 cm to 3 cm.

// second part of the morning

verification of the laying design of the flooring of the Briscola restaurant (Milan, Piazza Duomo)

Site inspection! I go to the construction site and check what has been done and how. There are always some questions to answer to the company, because when you demolish or realize new elements there is always a discrepancy or new problems to be solved that it was impossible to know beforehand. Examples:

  • removing the old coating we have more cm of abundance on the sides of the shower. Where do I want to start the laying design? At this point on the right it could be completely different, so you have to be careful.
  • by demolishing an old false ceiling, to be redone according to the new design, a hidden beam emerged: it is therefore necessary to take the new measures and update the project as soon as I return to the PC
  • two walls are not perfectly plumb, which means they are not perfectly straight. I want to add some workings to correct them, or do I want to correct it with the boiserie?
  • the plumber tells me that he can intervene next week, but that he needs to have the demolitions completed by the company. I give indications to the company and I suggest an appointment to check together the design of the pipes.

If I already have drawings and contents ready, I can satisfy and respond to all requests. Often, however, an email can take up to an hour or an hour and a half, both to collect data and for communication needs, so I prioritize based on emergencies and appointments.

// first part of the afternoon

All the news related to the construction site must be communicated and explained to the customers: then follows an email with the construction site report in copy to all, which lists everything that has happened and the news explained. All the professionals who will be involved in the next works must be notified. You must coordinate because eg. plumber, installer, construction company and architect need to be present at the same time to trace the plumbing and AC. The Safety Coordinator must also notify of the new entry into the construction site.

There is not only the creative project but also all the technical part that is needed to make it happen! For ongoing or new projects, there is also a lot of preparation work in technical data sheets, specifications, reading and requesting estimates, preparing/consulting practices, etc.

All changes – even minimal – required in the construction site are also reported in the drawings, and photos and drawings are archived for the history of the site. The tile laying design is updated, the new plant passages are marked, the thickening of that wall is updated to the plan, the false ceiling is modified where needed. Sometimes a second inspection also takes place.

Again, some tasks may be short, quick little updates — which may take a few minutes — like others may take an entire afternoon or be spread across multiple days. Also for this reason it is not possible to have a fixed lineup of commitments and projects to unmark, but it is necessary to organize them well based on the priorities and speed of the task to be performed.

// final part of the afternoon

The most pleasant but still committing-important part: the project.

I continue updating the design drawing, looking for the technical-aesthetic solution to allow an easier entrance, redesigning the staircase according to the new site dimensions; then it is the time for the furnishing design for the bedroom, then choosing new colors and finishes to propose to the costumers… etc. etc. In some cases this part of the day is dedicated to customers, to a design update meeting, aimed at making choices together.
To these moments there are also meetings with customers, aimed at design updating meetings, visualization and making choices together. So also in this case, the roadmap is being defined from time to time.

on site in the Maggiolina district (Milan) to decide on the finishes of the bathrooms and living room paneling

therefore in a week…

In a week I carry out from 2 to 4 inspections (which also includes meetings with customers), I spend at least 5 half days answering calls / emails from businesses and artisans to solve technical problems, provide technical data sheets, drawings, important design nodes to continue – and at the end respond to customer doubts / needs; two / three days are dedicated to updating the project, drawing and aesthetic definition, one or two days to the bureaucratic parts (contacts with the Municipality, practical updates, specifications, etc.).

In all this, time must also be found for extra activities, less recurring but necessary, and which added up in any case take a lot of time:

  • make inspections, produce estimates and proposals for new jobs
  • contact showroom to update on the latest products or request prices or samples
  • professional updating, reading, magazines, courses, learning / improving the use of software
  • economic / practical management of your own business, taxes and other bad things
  • social activities / publications / advertising, management of the website

what about the appointments?

I always tell my clients: when you contact me for an appointment, always consider doing it for the following week! In fact, the current week is often super full of appointments or commitments to carry on, given that it is being “defined” from time to time, based on everyone’s feedback and the continuation of the construction site. The following week, on the other hand, is freer, it still has to “be written” and there can be at most a previous commitment with another customer or a meeting in the Municipality.
It can happen that you always have the moment of hole in the current week, but always consider that when you call, there is already a lot on my plate!
Furthermore, if I have to prepare a project update, some papers, I must have time to prepare and insert them during the week.

the designing part…

As you may have guessed, I’m not – unfortunately! – 10 hours a day on drawings, pencils and colors. My profession as many remember is both technical and aesthetic, both scientific and humanistic. There are so many responsibilities, so many people to orchestrate and manage and collaborate, so many economic accounts and technical details to bring back.

It is a beautiful job, because it is varied and never boring, but certainly the amount of work is always underestimated or little known.

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