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David G. Axt, CCS, CSI ,SCIP
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 1579
Registered: 03-2002


Posted on Friday, July 28, 2017 - 06:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am currently under contract to write specifications for another project with a long-time repeat client. With the way things have been going lately on current and previous projects, I no longer wish to continue working for them.

I have had many sleepless nights thinking about severing our relationship, but I have decided that it is best for me to step away.

Any advice would be appreciated and you are welcome to call or email me privately.

Thank you.
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Specifications Consultant
Axt Consulting LLC
Nathan Woods, CSI, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: nwoods

Post Number: 716
Registered: 08-2005


Posted on Friday, July 28, 2017 - 06:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

That sounds like a bummer. As a client who hires spec writers, I'd have a few immediate concerns if I received a "Dear John" letter from a long standing business partner:

1. What did we do that caused this breach in our relationship? If it was attributed to a particular PM under my employment, perhaps its a correctable situation... If its systemic, as a business manager, I'd want to know that too.

2. How will my deadline be affected? Will I suffer fiscal harm by this withdraw?

3. What are my options? Including renegotiating if necessary.

4. Who else is available? What is their cost? Will you (David) pay the difference in fee to buy yourself out of your contract?

5. What will my own cost be to "train" a new spec writer to my business peculiarities, preferred products, Div 1 requirements, etc...


Those are my initial thoughts. My suggestion is that you give some thought to how you help mitigate your clients concerns along those or similar lines, and if so, perhaps you can part ways amicably, and the client might come out stronger and better because the "warning shot" your concerns have brought to light.

Or at least I hope so for your sake.

But if a tight deadline is involved, its quite possible things will get very difficult before they get better.

Good luck!
Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: michael_chusid

Post Number: 303
Registered: 10-2003


Posted on Friday, July 28, 2017 - 06:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have had to terminate clients. Sometimes I explain that I have gotten over extended or there was a family emergency, etc. Then I help them find a replacement and offer to get the replacement up to speed. Just because the client no longer meets your needs, they may be ideal for someone else.
Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS
www.chusid.com www.buildingproduct.guru 818-219-4937
Jeffrey Wilson CSI CCS SCIP
Senior Member
Username: wilsonconsulting

Post Number: 221
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 09:08 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I would consider whether severing the relationship while you're under contract is the best approach. It might be better to suffer through the current project and simply not accept add'l work from the client.

Reputation is a valuable asset, and I wouldn't want word to get around that I let a client down.

On the other hand, if there were particular circumstances that made it impossible to serve the client, there might be valid reasons to terminate a contract.
Jeffrey Wilson CCS CSI SCIP
Wilson Consulting Inc
Ardmore PA
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 982
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 09:22 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I concur with Mr. Wilson's observations. When you are asked to submit a future proposal, do so, but make sure the fee you quote would make it worth your while to work with that client again. You might also insert some contract terms that would make the job more attractive like COD (no check, no specs) or clear conditions for additional fees (and then submit for additional fees when those conditions are met).

Better to have someone out there grumbling about how expensive you are (and then maybe finding out that you are worth it) than to get into difficulty terminating an existing contract.
J. Peter Jordan, FCSI, AIA, CCS, LEED AP, SCIP
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI ,SCIP
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 1581
Registered: 03-2002


Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 12:03 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I plan on finishing the current project with the client. The problem is I have signed a contract to do another project with the firm. That is the contract that I want to get out of.
David G. Axt, CCS, CSI, SCIP
Specifications Consultant
Axt Consulting LLC
Jeffrey Wilson CSI CCS SCIP
Senior Member
Username: wilsonconsulting

Post Number: 222
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2017 - 12:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

In that case, perhaps a discussion w/ the client is in order. Maybe they would be OK w/ breaking the contract, and it can't hurt to raise your concerns w/ them.

I have been in a similar position where I was ready to move on from a client. When I told them so, they were motivated to correct the conditions that caused me to feel that way. The situation improved, and I also began adding a fee premium.

I also found sleeping pills can help w/ those sleepless nights!
Jeffrey Wilson CCS CSI SCIP
Wilson Consulting Inc
Ardmore PA
Robin E. Snyder
Senior Member
Username: robin

Post Number: 691
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, July 31, 2017 - 12:41 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

David - give me a call if you want to chat. You are essentially talking about breach of contract. Depending on the client, breaching a contract could have consequences you may not want to deal with. 602-369-8163
George A. Everding, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA
Senior Member
Username: geverding

Post Number: 862
Registered: 11-2004


Posted on Monday, July 31, 2017 - 08:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Robin-

Years ago when I was first starting out in business, I was advised that one should never draft a contract without including terms for its eventual possible dissolution. Sound advice? Good practice? (...realizing of course you are not rendering specific legal advice on this forum, I'm just looking for your general opinion)
Robin E. Snyder
Senior Member
Username: robin

Post Number: 693
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 11:23 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

you can always add language for termination of a contract in your contract, under which conditions either party can terminate the contract and waiver of certain damages etc. If both parties agree, it can never hurt. Similar to a pre-nup. Its a little more difficult in our type of business, because architect/clients are relying on our contracts to perform their contractual obligations to the Owner. Absent specific language, or outside of those listed conditions, breach of contract ranges from immaterial to material and the remedies vary. The best bet is to communicate and try to work out a mutually satisfactory termination of the agreement (of course)

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