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So you think the Detailed Design is complete, and OK to price?

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

It starts with the landowners vision,

It ends with the landowners wallet,

And in between…

black magic happens.


The designer interprets and translates the vision,

The master craftsman studies the translation and selects the craftsmen,

The craftsmen select the materials,

And measure twice, cut once.

The operator fits out the building

to their highest trading standard,

Filled with FF&E to host the customer,

Who’s experience they have planned.

If we fail along the way,

Who is to say,

It should not be this way?

……The answer IS YOU!

For the client can say this is not my vision,

The designer can say this is not my interpretation,

The master craftsman can say those cuts aren’t straight,

The customer can say, the experience was poor,

It’s not the vision as sold, I will come no more.


The designer declares in writing,

Of an incomplete Design,

“I am out of time and money”.

“Let’s not tell the builder, if you don’t mind?”

Aha, the client is NOT mislead for once,

And can say “This is not my vision.”

“I do not want the risk of contractor claims or delays.”

“I want a sharp price for 100% design decisions.”

“But dear client, I can issue NTT’s,

before tender’s arrive.”

Client asks, “Can you do that?”

“Why yes, it’s done all the time.”

And dear client,

these provisional sums will do,

you haven’t made your mind up

about the colour of the loo


After that, we will argue,

that a line on the plans

means more than a mere builder

could ever understand

It’s called contractual interpretation

Read the documents as a whole

What is POORLY expressed must have meaning

Rather than no meaning at all

A Poor detailed design will pass

a basement legal test

Which is more important for the project,

dear client, what really is best?

Less time for builder due diligence

equals more money for you

Or an easy job to price and build

within the builder’s time and budget too?

Take a short cut with me, dear client

My design will be grand

The builder will be cheap

Just as I have planned.

By Matthew Ensoll

Life Member NZIQS. Reg.QS.

Editor New Zealand Building Economist


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