Custom Residential Architects Network

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  What would you have done??Jan 25, 2013 5:58 PMJohn L. Stewart AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 26, 2013 8:49 AMDavid S.R. Andreozzi AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 9:18 AMLee Calisti AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 9:35 AMAndrew M. Fethes AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 4:37 PMMichael John Smith FAIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 1:56 PMMichael F. Malinowski AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 2:01 PMDavid S.R. Andreozzi AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 7:41 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 5:35 AMCarol J. De Tine AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 9:56 AMJohn L. Stewart AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 12:04 PMKen S. Brogno AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 8:14 AMJudith G Repp AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 8:38 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 9:13 AMRoger W. Keller AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 28, 2013 11:01 AMDavid S.R. Andreozzi AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 7:37 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 10:01 AMThomas W. Streicher AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 29, 2013 9:55 AMWilliam Huey
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 30, 2013 7:08 AMGregory La Vardera
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 31, 2013 7:52 AMNeil S. Golden AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Feb 01, 2013 9:52 AMJohn L. Stewart AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Feb 01, 2013 10:07 AMJohn I. Lehman AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 31, 2013 8:17 AMRand J. Soellner
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 31, 2013 8:57 AMJohn L. Stewart AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Feb 01, 2013 8:06 AMEric Andrew Rawlings AIA
  RE:What would you have done??Jan 31, 2013 2:10 PMWilliam Huey
  RE:What would you have done??Feb 01, 2013 7:23 AMGregory La Vardera
 

1.
What would you have done??
From: John L. Stewart AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 25, 2013 5:58 PM
Subject: What would you have done??
Message:
I was contacted by a person who just bought a 6 acre property next to Larry Ellison's (Oracle) 40 acre property in Woodside,CA near SF.  He lives in Miami and only plans to live in the house in the summer. The list price was $11 million. rumor is he bought it on the courthouse steps for $3.5 million. It included a 1915 European house plus a fairly recent addition of a rec building with an indoor pool, locker rooms, exercise rooms, prayer rooms, etc. The total floor area is 18,000 Sf. I spent two hours walking around with him taking notes about a two million face lift he is planning. At the end when we were standing in front of the house. He said all I want to know right now is how you are going to tie the buildings together. I want you to do some concepts for the exterior. I asked him if he expected me to do them for free. He said yes he needed to know it "I was his guy" . I wrote to him after a few days saying it was probably $10,000 of work but I would do it for $5,000 to show him I was a good designer. He wrote back saying thanks but he had three people already working on it!!! 

What would you have done? 

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John Stewart AIA
Stewart Associates Architects
San Carlos CA
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2.
RE:What would you have done??
From: David S.R. Andreozzi AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 26, 2013 8:49 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
John, 

Take this tidbit from my lovely wife Cheryl,

"You pay peanuts... you get monkeys."

He will get what he deserves... and he wont know to appreciate the difference.

Dave


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David Andreozzi AIA
Owner
Andreozzi Architects
Barrington RI
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3.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Lee Calisti AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 9:18 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
I agree with David. While we don't want to err to the opposite direction and be elitists only working for the wealthy with their "dangling carrots" and promises of great projects, we must still have a sense of worth and self respect.

These offers are bogus and can't lead to good things. Just say no (ok, no thank you to be polite).

I was always told that if you do work that way, then the next project you do like that, you'll get the same fee ($0.00).

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Lee Calisti AIA
Principal
lee CALISTI architecture+design
Greensburg PA
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4.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Andrew M. Fethes AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 9:35 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Uh oh, it seems like David and I have the same wife .....

Nevertheless, David has it right.  If he does not have the ability to interview a few architects and feel who is the "right guy" imagine how difficult it will be the design and construction process. How will he know when he has the "right design". How many GC's will he need to go through before he finds the "right one". How many paint colors on the wall?  I'd also bet that he will hold his architect to a much higher standard of care than is humanly possible, forcing many hours of unpaid work to correct "alleged" defects and omissions.

Personally, I would not have offered a price break, but rather would have offered to credit the amount ($10k in your scenario) towards the full Architectural agreement when it was signed and only if the schematic concepts were actually used during design development. 

Sad that three of your "colleagues" were lured into this mess.

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Andrew Fethes AIA
President
Andrew Fethes Architects PA
Oradell NJ
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5.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Michael John Smith FAIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 4:37 PM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Frank Lloyd Wright said in advising young architects,"Beware of the shopper for plans.  They will be loyal to neither you nor your design." In my experience, a personal referral is very good, but the hand shake and personal compatibility are most important.  It is also helpful if the potential client has seen an example or two of your work.  Preferably in person.  Anything beyond an hour of "getting to know you" without a fee is almost always a waste of time.  We can usually sense whether or not someone is running around town fishing for free ideas.  

Most if not all of us have professional liability insurance.  Some of us have friends who are doctors or lawyers. Not many of those folks would go very far with us without saying call my office and set up an appointment.

I would have passed on the competition.




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Michael John Smith FAIA
Owner
MJS LIGHT
Houston TX
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6.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Michael F. Malinowski AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 1:56 PM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Thanks David - that's a good one!  

My own experience tells me there is less than a 50/50 chance there will even be a project at that site; and if there is, I would say odds are 90 to 1 that there will be a lot of unhappy people involved.  

I've found it works well to have a nominal cost for an 'initial consult' outside the office.  Even a $100 charge tends to separate much of the chaff from the wheat and saves a lot of wasted half days.


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Michael Malinowski AIA
Applied Architecture, Inc.
Sacramento CA
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7.
RE:What would you have done??
From: David S.R. Andreozzi AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 2:01 PM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:

This seems stupid but we need to not talk about how much we bill...

Architects generally don't look good in stripes.

Dave


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David Andreozzi AIA
Owner
Andreozzi Architects
Barrington RI
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8.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 7:41 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Exactly.  Start off on the right foot from the beginning.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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9.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Carol J. De Tine AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 5:35 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Be glad you didn't get it. He's going to be a difficult client who will question every cent of the "successful" architects' fees and will ultimately pay them less than they deserve.

You did the right thing. Life's too short to work for cheapskates.

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Carol De Tine AIA
Principal
Carriage House Studio Architects, LLC
Portland ME
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10.
RE:What would you have done??
From: John L. Stewart AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 9:56 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Just found out house close by on same street
Just sold for $117.5 million!!! Architect was Alan Greenberg from Va. 8,900 SF on eight acres!
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John Stewart AIA
Stewart Associates Architects
San Carlos CA
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11.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Ken S. Brogno AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 12:04 PM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
From Eric's post below:

"The act of simply building a building can be picked apart as not being sustainable."


Try getting a permit to demolish something in San Francisco.  The planning code specifically states that building something that is sustainable is not grounds for demolishing.  Kind of a paradox when you consider how badly the earth is screwed up.

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Ken Brogno AIA
Architect AIA LEED AP
San Francisco CA
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12.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Judith G Repp AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 8:14 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:

You did the right thing.  I keep a copy of a quote from John Ruskin on my desktop (courtesy of Bob Borson and his 'Life of an Architect' blog....)  

"There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person's lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."

Having said that:  Cheryl was far more direct and to the point with "You pay peanuts - you get monkeys!"  So true.
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Judith Repp AIA
Architect
Judith Repp Architect
Villanova PA
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13.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 8:38 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Hello John Stewart:
I couldn't have responded any better than David Andreozzi's wife.  As a matter of fact, I would have charged to make that initial site visit.  Some people want to take advantage of Architects' creativity and get what they can for nothing, then hand that off to a builder to see if they can build from that.  Not a good business model.  You did the right thing. Charge for what you do.  Lawyers, Doctors, CPAs and Contractors do.  Ever hear of someone asking a builder to: "Just build me a little Foyer here, then I'll let you know if I want you to build the rest of the house"?

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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14.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Roger W. Keller AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 9:13 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
My daughter just told me that her Bosch stove needed a repair and the cost to look at the stove was $90 for the first 20 minutes, then it worked out to a bit over $200/hr in 6 min increments just to see what the problem might be.  Hey that is just a simple stove by a guy who might have spent a few months in stove school.
   And before you get thinking that is good, we pay considerably more than that for a lawyer to sit in on board meetings just to hear if anything might sound like a problem.
   Architects don't know what they have, and don't know how to sell it.  Should students spend untold hours drawing multiple pencil studies of dark and light aspects of the same campus building facade (yes I was just shown a student's portfolio) or should they be taking business classes. Yes we need architects to be artists, and problem solvers, yes we want excellence and creativity, knowledge of materials, sustainability and the rest; but why give it all away for free.
   Even Michael Graves said "I made more money from the target tea pot then from my architectural practice"
  I hate to write this - as there are so many voices crying in their beer, still, perhaps it is not too late to revision the profession, after all we have nothing but time and eternity to think up new ideas. Our problems are not permanent, we are creative problem solvers, lets get creative at hardball. Set a goal. say by the year 2100 architects will be as indispensable as plumbers and Bosch stove repair guys, will create outstanding works of art but only for reasonable compensation.


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Roger Keller AIA
Roger W. Keller, Architect
Summit NJ
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15.
RE:What would you have done??
From: David S.R. Andreozzi AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 28, 2013 11:01 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
You have all correctly pointed out the problem with ignoring that advice...

In every project that has gone bad in my office (in 25 years I can count them on one hand), we ignored obvious indicating concerns during the interview process because the budget, location, or project exposure blurred our eyes like heaving cleavage. It is so tough to take a bad job when you see the alternative as laying off an employee... but the alternative to this really might be a lawsuit, a large unpaid bill, or a check in the pocket with no recommendation.

Peace.

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David Andreozzi AIA
Owner
Andreozzi Architects
Barrington RI
-------------------------------------------




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16.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 7:37 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Yes!  Go Roger! 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
-------------------------------------------






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17.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Thomas W. Streicher AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 10:01 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:

The problem I see here are the 3 that are working on the project apparently for nothing. With those Guys/Gals out there how does an Architect stand a chance to earn a living? It's not just individuals either; we have gotten more than one RFP from commercial enterprises and municipalities that required a design of the project be included with the proposal. Most of these also state that they own the submitted design even if you don't get the job. I know this is a professional forum but I have to add a big "WTF?".

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Thomas Streicher AIA
Thomas Streicher, Architect
Monroe NY
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18.
RE:What would you have done??
From: William Huey
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 9:55 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Roger Keller, I can appreciate your posted comments having just had my dishwasher "diagnosed" for a fee as well.

This reminded me of a discussion I once had with a Landscape Architect from North Carolina. I noticed that, along with his notebook, he carried an old fashioned receipt pad with carbon copy yellow "customer" copies (similar to a traffic cop). He told me that it was a great way to keep up with those people who called him to their property to "get some advice". He explained to them his (half-hourly) rate at the commencement of the meeting, conducted the meeting, then had them sign their "ticket" (receipt for services) and gave them the yellow copy as an instant bill. He said that it greatly increased his receivables from those persons who would usually be inclined to ignore an invoice that came in the mail two weeks later.

A bit unsophisticated? Maybe. But perfect for the type of person John Stewart references. If they act offended, then you would at least know what kind of potential client you were dealing with.

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William Huey
Bill Huey + Associates
Charleston SC
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19.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Gregory La Vardera
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 30, 2013 7:08 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
William, better to have collected the minimum base charge over the phone with a credit card when the appointment was made. It costs very little to do this these days, there is no excuse not to.

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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20.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Neil S. Golden AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 7:52 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:


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Neil Golden AIA
Tucson AZ
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21.
RE:What would you have done??
From: John L. Stewart AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Feb 01, 2013 9:52 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Don't know how it works in your state but in California you are required to have a contract for services before you can bill for time. If you charge for your advice it might also open you up for liability. I still think an hour or two of time is good marketing. Show your portfolio, give them a card, take some notes and then send them a written proposal. I get half of what I look at. One year we did 100 projects which meant I looked at 200 that year. Now I look at a little over one a week. Of the ones I don't get, most of them never happen when I drive by a year later. I look at it as just a cost of getting business!
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John Stewart AIA
Stewart Associates Architects
San Carlos CA
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22.
RE:What would you have done??
From: John I. Lehman AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Feb 01, 2013 10:07 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
John,  I agree with you 100%.  When I provide a no-cost initial consultation, I also have the time to get to know the client and to be honest, I can ususally pick out the ones that I really wouldn't want to work with anyway.  If you get "red flags", it is better to walk!

John

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John Lehman AIA
Lehman Associates, PC
Highland MD
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23.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Rand J. Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 8:17 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Agreed.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
-------------------------------------------






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24.
RE:What would you have done??
From: John L. Stewart AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 8:57 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Thanks everyone for your input. Seems like I am not the only one who doesn't give away designs for free!! A 9,000 SF house on 8 acres by the architect Alan Greenberg out of Virginia just sold for 117.5 Million! $13,000 per SF! I do go to meet clients for free. That is the only marketing I do. I've been doing it this way for 30 years. Not about to change now!
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John Stewart AIA
Stewart Associates Architects
San Carlos CA
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25.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Eric Andrew Rawlings AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Feb 01, 2013 8:06 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
I rarely have problems getting paid for my services and I typically invoice in smaller amounts more often. Every tradesman in the building industry will meet someone for under an hour at no charge to sell their services and I've never had a problem doing what is considered a common courtesy. It is important not to give up too much, but give them enough to convey your level of knowledge on the subject. Even if I don't get the job, some face time with someone is better marketing than sitting in your office. If you portray yourself as suspicious of the client, defensive, insecure, you lose respect. I would never charge someone for spending an hour trying to sell myself because no one else in the industry does this in my area. If I were a potential client, this would put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning, thus further downgrading an already lousy stereotype we Architects seem to have earned over the decades.

I've had several lost clients that approached me later that said they wished they had hired me instead, as they see my work going up around them. No need to be nasty. I still great them with a smile and this builds your reputation. All it takes is one bad interview, one bad "review" and that hurts you more than how much three successful projects can help. If someone doesn't hire you, it does't mean they took advantage of you, it doesn't mean they didn't view you as a competent professional. Sometimes they may view you as overkill for their needs. I always try to adjust my level of services to the needs and means of the client without compromising my dollars per hour. I've charged the large fee for full service drawings for projects with over a million in construction costs in the same neighborhood as I bartered a dinner for a simple porch repair drawing needed for a building permit for my 70+ year old neighbor. When we portray ourselves as too excellent for the little guy, we limit our pool of clients and create the kind of reputation that makes people think of the builder first, yet we continue to wonder why... 

We must make design valuable to people by making ourselves available to everyone. If all you do is design expensive houses for wealthy people, then you're reinforcing the stereotype that the majority of society doesn't need us, seeing how the majority of the home building industry has learned to move on without us. How do you insert yourself into everyday America's life when a builder can buy a set of plans for $1500, build the house 100 times, thus making design worth $15 per house? You can't even pay a guy to install a door knob for that price. This is not an easy mountain to climb, but bit by bit you can prove a thoughtful design can change how someone lives. An awkward shoebox design begins to only be worth $15 and yours proves to be invaluable when that neighbor who didn't hire you walks into one of your designs next door wishing they hired you instead.

-------------------------------------------
Eric Rawlings AIA
Owner
Rawlings Design, Inc.
Decatur GA
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26.
RE:What would you have done??
From: William Huey
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Jan 31, 2013 2:10 PM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
Gregory, this was a few years ago. I would think now that pre-pay or a Square card reader would definitely do the trick. Odd that we as professionals should consider having to conduct business this way, more like retail merchants, but with some people our services have that level of regard, sadly.

All the best.

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William Huey
Bill Huey + Associates
Charleston SC
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27.
RE:What would you have done??
From: Gregory La Vardera
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Feb 01, 2013 7:23 AM
Subject: RE:What would you have done??
Message:
I think people find it very convenient, and appreciate that you using current methods for transactions. Not sad, but rather an opportunity to show the profession is playing in the current economy.

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Gregory La Vardera
Architect
Gregory La Vardera Architect
Merchantville NJ
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