Small Project Practitioners

Small Project Practitioners sorted by thread
 
  FrustratedMar 15, 2013 5:46 PMLaura Ruth Kraft AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 18, 2013 5:57 PMThomas Bank II AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 18, 2013 6:24 PMKate Svoboda-Spanbock AIA, CID
  RE:FrustratedMar 18, 2013 7:35 PMTarit Kanti Chaudhuri AIA, ...
  RE:FrustratedMar 20, 2013 9:30 AMRudolph M. Beuc III AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 19, 2013 12:04 PMRudolph M. Beuc III AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 21, 2013 5:54 PMDonald R. Wardlaw AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 21, 2013 10:50 PMLeslie W. LeBon
  RE:FrustratedMar 22, 2013 12:03 PMThomas Bank II AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 21, 2013 1:12 PMGregory M. Holah
  RE:FrustratedMar 23, 2013 11:34 AMNelson B. Nave AIA
 

1.
Frustrated
From: Laura Ruth Kraft AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 15, 2013 5:46 PM
Subject: Frustrated
Message:
This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Custom Residential Architects Network and Small Project Practitioners .
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I just heard from a prospective client for whom I had done a complementary initial site visit and written a detailed proposal.  They want a $400K remodel of a million dollar house. The couple (both engineers, who should know better) decided to go with "another firm who can provide preliminary designs before signing any contract," which I take to mean the designer or architect will provide a quick design for free, and will recoup the costs in subsequent phases, all the while back-tracking over their unverified initial assumptions.
This approach completely devalues the services architects provide, and feeds unrealistic expectations. 
I predict that these clients will end up paying a lot and will end up disappointed. 
I can't compete with free services.  I can't connect with potential clients who hold architectural services in such disregard.  Efforts to educate them about the process and the benefits of using a thoughtful architect are drowned out by the false promise of something for nothing.  


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Laura Kraft AIA
Laura Kraft - Architect
Seattle WA
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2.
RE:Frustrated
From: Thomas Bank II AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 5:57 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
I feel your pain. I've had "clients" take my preliminary sketches to a contractor who built from them. I've had my proposal compared against contractors with "free design services." I've had my fees compared against someone who "had AutoCAD and a huge monitor." I recently had someone tell me that they couldn't afford my fees but could I spend some time to go over the issues (for free, of course) that they should discuss with their "designer" to make sure they get the best possible house?

I place a fair amount of blame on the various media that spend a lot of time on contractors and designers and very little on architects and what they bring to the table in the design process. But I also put a certain amount of blame on architects who have dismissed "mundane" projects over the decades to the point that the average public no longer knows what an architect does. I cannot tell you how many times introducing myself as an architect receives a response along the lines of "Is that like a contractor?" or "Is that like a engineer?"

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Thomas Bank AIA
Owner/Architect
Simply Stated Architecture, P.C.
Lemoyne PA
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3.
RE:Frustrated
From: Kate Svoboda-Spanbock AIA, CID
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 6:24 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
I commiserate.

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Kate Svoboda-Spanbock AIA, CID
Principal
HERE Design and Architecture
Los Angeles CA
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4.
RE:Frustrated
From: Tarit Kanti Chaudhuri AIA, CCIM
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 7:35 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Dear Laura:
I believe most Architect's submit a proposal before incurring any cost for professional use of their time. Even the proposal takes time as well. But it has to be done as part of business. If the selection process is through a competition, you have no other option but using your time. But in general practice, no one should provide any free service to protect the value of the profession.

I am also a Real Estate Broker. Many People try to use your time without showing any loyalty. Texas Real Estate Commission has an Agreement, called "Buyer/Tenant Agreement", to get executed before spending any time with the potential client. I wished AIA develops something similar to that to protect our interest. If anyone is interested to know how that Agreement works, please get in touch with me at tarit@archiconservices.com. Thanks..  

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Tarit Chaudhuri AIA, CCIM
President
Archicon Services, Inc.
Houston TX
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5.
RE:Frustrated
From: Rudolph M. Beuc III AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 20, 2013 9:30 AM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:

Heard this on the radio today about film CG houses going broke. I think it's relivant to this thread.

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/19/174703202/visual-effects-firms-miss-out-on-a-films-success


Thanks,
Rudy Beuc

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Rudolph Beuc AIA
Architect
R. Beuc Architects
Saint Louis MO
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6.
RE:Frustrated
From: Rudolph M. Beuc III AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 19, 2013 12:04 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Let's try to get this formatted right....

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/19/174703202/visual-effects-firms-miss-out-on-a-films-success



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Rudolph Beuc AIA
Architect
R. Beuc Architects
Saint Louis MO
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7.
RE:Frustrated
From: Donald R. Wardlaw AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 21, 2013 5:54 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
"Educating the public" is easier said than done.  It's hard for us as individual architects to have a sufficiently large soap box for this, though together via the AIA there are possibilities to make a dent in the problem.

Where the rubber hits the road in my opinion, however, is where each of us as individual architects interacts and serves individual clients.  I see it as my job, maybe our job, to make sure that the client does not come away lacking an appreciation for the services of an architect, me usually.  It does happen sometimes, but I work really hard to avoid that and the reality is, if the client is not fundamentally a jerk, and they hired me and not someone else, they will be glad they did what they did.  Not because I'm naturally wonderful, but because I'm very diligent and I really do care.  I tend to also place a high importance on doing thorough drawings which has the effect of making me a valuable player on the jobsite.  I have seen documents by others that do us all no favors, and I do my best to counter the impression that that is what architects provide.

Never underestimate the value of collective, uncoordinated, intelligent behavior, as Hayek has shown so well.

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Donald Wardlaw AIA
More Than Construction, Inc.
Oakland CA
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8.
RE:Frustrated
From: Leslie W. LeBon
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 21, 2013 10:50 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Laura, et al.

As you can see, your problem is a common one throughout our country and affects all licensed architects working in the residential market. It is indeed, difficult to compete with "free" services. And guess what, there's nothing we as Architects can do about it. Our voices are weak and fall on deaf ears. There are no bleeding hearts for the "poor architect."
In many states (including California), unlicensed building designers are allowed to design (free or otherwise) houses and duplex's under 3 levels and of wood construction. The interesting thing is, California in particular, requires Contractors to be licensed for anything over $500 of construction cost.
Obviously, the Contractors have better representation at the government levels. 
The only thing we can hope for is all those freebies have serious problems with their projects! Perhaps then we will have a voice.

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Leslie LeBon AIA
Laguna Beach CA
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9.
RE:Frustrated
From: Thomas Bank II AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 22, 2013 12:03 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
I think that Rudy's post about the CG film industry is a very similar comparison. As an industry, they seem to be at a disadvantage similar to what we face. It does seem that as a whole, the public just does not understand what an architect adds to the equation. They see that engineers do the designs to keep the building standing as well as light, heat, cool, and plumb the everything while the contractors actually assemble the building. Why should they spend "extra" on an architect?

The bit about the director expecting eleventy-hundred retakes of the scene when only a few were in the original contract is another common issue. A customer (I have a hard time calling him a client) last year couldn't understand additional fees even though we were on the seventh redesign by the time things got under construction. He had no idea what he wanted, but was never willing to sit down and realistically discuss the plan in preliminaries so all the changes were done in construction documents including three times where I practically began again from scratch throwing out the previous work.

But to enter a question into the discussion relating back to Laura's original complaint - how do people deal with initial design submissions?

As I mentioned before, I've had customers (again, hard time calling them clients - actually, hard to call them customers too, I guess) take my preliminary sketches to a contractor who either built from them or did his own construction documents (or to someone who did drafting on the side). To me, that is like going to a five-star restaurant and asking for the recipe for their premier entree only to then go home and make it yourself or take it down the street to the local diner because they will make it for you for cheaper. The value of that five-star restaurant is in their staff having the experience and imagination to make those premier entrees - that's what separates them from the diner down the street slinging hash or the chain by the highway flipping burgers. Another analogy would be the people who "buy" a big screen TV for the Super Bowl only to return it the next week and leave the store with a used TV that they cannot sell for full price. The customer is taking advantage of the business in all three cases.

The client will select a contractor based on other work the contractor has done that the client has seen. They wouldn't expect him to build them a building for them before deciding whether they're going to pay him. They argue that all we're doing is drawing on paper, so it is not the same. But it is our time and expertise that they are asking for when they come to us. Asking for "free" work should be no different than asking others to work for free.

Even if they are willing to pay me for the time to come up with those preliminary sketches and to work out the details, I cannot stay in business if they then take those to the contractor, have him do the construction drawing, and roll the cost of doing them into the total building cost. Supposedly they are "free," but you know that he's paid for the time he spent doing them somewhere in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that they are paying him to build their building. I'd guess that they end up paying the contractor as much (or more) than they would have paid me, just that it disappears into the total cost. I cannot "hide" my fees like that.

So over time I've been getting more wary about leaving any hard copy work with a potential client until they've committed to the full ticket for my services. I can connect my iPad to a projector or to the client's TV to show them my sketches, drawings, and models and my work leaves with me at the end of the meeting. I admit that there can be a bit of an issue with some clients if they want to mull things over before making a decision if they don't have drawings to keep with them. But I can go by gut feelings and leave limited information with them if I feel it will help me win the client.

What other thoughts or experiences do people have with these issues? Have you run into similar problems and how have you dealt with them? As Laura stated, not being willing to do the initial "free" work can end the discussion right there. But there have to be ways that we can "protect" ourselves from clients who are looking for nothing more than that "free work" from us.

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Thomas Bank AIA
Owner/Architect
Simply Stated Architecture, P.C.
Lemoyne PA
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10.
RE:Frustrated
From: Gregory M. Holah
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 21, 2013 1:12 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Hi Laura,

What you experienced is a disfunctional aspect of our industry and a lack of advocacy on our behalf.  Providing services in California prior to any form of Agreement is in violation of the Code of Regulations and is enforced.  If this is what needs to happen on a national scale I see no problem with it.  The larger problem are the "designers and builders" that make claims that they can provide the same services as an Architect.  Flip on the TV to any flip/renovation show and count how many times they mention building codes, permits or Architects.  Not often.

The design process cannot take place in isolation and requires a constructive dialogue between the Architect and client.  Our best ideas come from a process that involves analysis, discussion and evaluation.  How a selection process can be made from a preliminary concept drawing without these elements is frankly absurd.

In the end you are better off not having started down the road with clients that should know better and better educated about our profession.  Anyone directly or indirectly asking for free services should be a red flag to everyone to stay away.

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Gregory Holah AIA
Principal
Holah Design + Architecture LLC
Portland OR
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11.
RE:Frustrated
From: Nelson B. Nave AIA
To: Small Project Practitioners
Posted: Mar 23, 2013 11:34 AM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:

RIght on Greg...!!
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Nelson B. Nave AIA
Owner
Nelson Breech Nave, AIA Architect
Kalamazoo MI
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