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Am I Just Too Detailed Here?

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In the last couple of months I've had four jobs with two clients--two custom homes and a sort of architectural sign structure (the archy calls it an "Icon") for a commercial client of his.

In each case, the amount of time it took to complete ended up being about three to four times as much as I I originally suggested it would take. Needless to say, this has caused friction with my client and--quite possibly--a determination on their part not to use me again.

Adding insult to injury, of course, I'm really not getting paid for the effort.

This is my fault initially, of course, because I just "messed up" on the amount of time it was going to take to do these jobs.

The "Icon" structure is easy to explain, because it was such a "one-off" kind of thing, pretty unique. I'm not likely to do anything much like it again. Besides being cold-formed steel--which nearly always in my experience needs more "attention to detail," I had to come up with a conceptual approach that would work for resisting lateral loads, which took a few turns down blind alleys before I finally hit on what to do. But that doesn't save the project from being "a mess" in my client's eyes. I guess he promised it to his client in a short time, that didn't work out and I'm at fault.

The three custom homes were something else again. I have not until this time done any residential work to the degree that this required. Always before it was an expansion of an existing home, and of course a whole lot of foundations. Had the houses been "typical" that would have helped, but they tended to have a lot of "wide-open spaces" and required some ingenuity on my part to come up with a sufficient structural system.

I enjoyed the challenge, but I took W-A-A-A-Y too long to finish, and once again I think this guy is "not happy" the extent that he probably won't call on me again.

I guess I'm not really looking for an answer to the rhetorical question "what did I do wrong?" I'm just looking for some similar experiences so I don't have to feel so crummy about it. As it is, I realize that part of my problem is seeing what can happen to a structural engineer when he doesn't dot all "i"'s and cap all "t"'s, from my legal work. The thought of being sued in future because I messed up trying to "hurry up" is disquieting, to say the least.

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