I think this sounds a bit arrogant, but it is not meant to be that way.
I say "I work to my standards, not my client's standards". I am always worried that I haven't done enough work or my work should be a bit better, but my clients, most of the time, seem extremely happy about where we are and what we have. So apparently my self induced stress is because of what I expect from myself.
I was brought into a project by one of my engineers. We did the building addition and all went well. I got paid and the client seemed happy. I did additional projects for this client and somewhere down the road, he seem to forget what I had done, because he no longer need the drawings and then disputed what he owed me. We eventually had a big face to face meeting where no one walked away completely happy.
Normally I would walk away from a client like this, but he was involved in a project with one of my consulting engineers, who I like very much, so I didn't burn any bridges because I knew we would have to work together down the road.
I was asked to work on a site plan project with this client. I told him I didn't do site plans. I work with the building inspections department, which is sometimes hard enough, and I didn't deal with the planning department. I told him he needed to hire a civil engineer. We agreed he would do all the interaction with the planning department and I would do the drawings. Everything was fine until the very last invoice. I was told I would not be paid for my "mistakes" and then was told I exceeded my budget and would be reported to the Board of Architecture. I had never set a budget and only told him I would work hourly. I know they are blowing smoke and have no idea why they went off the rails and wrote this nasty email? I still don't, but I don't let it bother me either.
Several days after the nasty email from the client, I got a review comment from the inspections department about the building part of this project. I could have not responded. I could have sent the email to the client and told them that after their last email they needed to take care of this project from now on, but I didn't.
I started the project and I will finish the project. My standards won't allow me to quit midstream. I know what professional services are about and therefore will take care of what I consider to be my professional obligations. I provided a new sketch to the plan reviewer to address his comment and sent it back to him and CCed the "not so nice" client, with no comments, just the sketch.
No matter how bad I get treated I will fulfill my obligations. I work to my standard, not the clients.
Let me clarify that I had been paid for the architectural work, so that is why I respond to the plan reviewers comments. If I am not paid, no I will not complete a project. I will provide the work for which I am being paid. To prevent not getting paid, I typically ask for a deposit up front and the balance at the time I deliver the drawings. I get it 95% of the time. Let me also clarify that I do mostly commercial work and drawings for permits, so when I deliver the drawings the only thing I have to address is review comments, so the permit will be issued. Most of my clients are contractors or developer and that is all they want.
On last thing - Will I ever work for that nasty client again? No.