Review for M+A Architecture Studio

Virginia Murello Bilek
Relationship: Client
Project Date: October 2009
Project Price Range: more than $100,000
The design services of Mark and Anne were exactly what I was looking for. The building process left much to be desired. Mark repeatedly showed up hours late to ...
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Mrs. Murello's house was designed in 2006, and constructed in 2008 / 2009. It was one of the most challenging budget projects we've done, being a 2500 square foot architect designed home for just under $300k, and in addition it's exurban to Houston, and required real distance travel to be able to build. In order to meet this incredibly difficult budget target we did actively two things with the Murellos: first, we agreed to physically provide a lot of the labor for the specialized items in house under the GC fee allocation, - that is we sacrificed profit potential to make this thing work, and literally installed the roof and metal siding with our own forces at no added cost, fabricated speciality metal elements in house, and so on. Second, the Murellos agreed to provide a lot of additional sweat equity, which they certainly did, and often to very good effect, working with the frame crew to stain the exposed wood, prime and paint interior, clean up the site, and so on. However, the Murellos thought they could install the bathroom wall tile themselves, which proved to be a disaster. They simply couldn't do it, and we had to bring in a tile setter to complete the work. At the end of the day, this "Fixed Cost" project went about 2% over budget, - i.e. a few thousands of dollars, literally just that fractional and almost trivial amount, and all of it related to the Owners not being able to hold up their end of the deal, completely. They did make great efforts and that did make a difference. Not a question there - they really put in some effort. It just didn't go the full distance like they planned. Mrs. Murello has, however, never gotten over the fact we ended up charging them for the work we had to complete that they could not complete. This is a huge disappointment, as this is a really fine project, and there is no reason beyond Mrs. Murello's inexperience and stubbornness, being a first time home builder and not familiar with the process of building a home, let alone building something as custom and budget challenging as this, that there should be any issue here. Reading this review, you may note Mrs. Murello isn't complaining about the design of her lovely, truly special house (this project even won an AIA Design Award), - nor is she even complaining about the construction of her home: she's just complaining about a perceived slight at the very end of her project, where she thought we should pay for things not in the project scope to start, and everything she has represented in her review here just isn't factually true, not in the least. And I trust that shows in the broader context. It is an unfortunate thing, and I think says something about Mrs. Virginia Murello, who, getting close to nine years on, can't get over her own unique opinions and temperament, and rather creative understanding of facts, and wants to denigrate us publicly without seeming recourse: But I'll take issue with her: Her project is the Gulf Coast Farmhouse project, and it was built for almost the cost of a builder tract home. Mrs. Murello simply doesn't have any perspective.
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