Custom Residential Architects Network

Custom Residential Architects Network sorted by thread
 
  FrustratedMar 18, 2013 9:57 AMLaura Kraft, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 19, 2013 6:15 PMRand Soellner
  RE:FrustratedMar 20, 2013 5:56 PMDouglas Walter, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 21, 2013 6:35 PMRand Soellner
  RE:FrustratedMar 22, 2013 5:53 PMDouglas Walter, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 25, 2013 6:16 PMPeter Harmon, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 26, 2013 5:45 PMRand Soellner
  RE:FrustratedMar 27, 2013 6:59 PMMr. Michael Malone, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 28, 2013 5:41 PMPamela Leonard, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 28, 2013 6:17 PMJudith Wasserman, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 27, 2013 7:39 PMDonald Duffy, AIA
  RE:FrustratedMar 19, 2013 6:59 PMJohn Stewart, AIA
 

1.
Frustrated
From: Laura Kraft, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 9:57 AM
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: Rand Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 19, 2013 6:15 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Laura, I deal with this all the time.  I can tell you that I have never been awarded a project simply because I ingratiated myself to the client by going to their site for free.  And because this has Not proven to be a good marketing tool, I don't offer it.  I do offer to go to their site for a nominal reasonable fee and answer all their questions and let them pick my brain for whatever it's worth.  I have found that Most of those paid site visits Do result in getting the job.  I think that ALL of us real, licensed Architects need to get in the habit of this so that none of us have to deal with such a miserable state of affairs as becoming expected.  Clients should not expect this sort of free service and those of us that do this just make it harder for all of us to earn a living.  I do allow potential clients to come to my home office and meet with me for however long they wish, to discuss their project and I will also drive them around to example projects of mine that have been built.  I figure much of that is me marketing my experience and track record.  But I draw the line at expending my resources on behalf of a maybe project just to make it seem like I'm a good guy (or in your case, gal).  I wish you the best. 

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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3.
RE:Frustrated
From: Douglas Walter, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 20, 2013 5:56 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:


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Douglas Walter AIA
Principal
Doug Walter Architects
Denver CO
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After qualifying a lead on the phone, the discussion inevitably gets to "What's the next step?" I suggest that it would be good for me to come over for an hour or two and get a feel for what their remodeling project is. They also inevitably ask "Do you charge for this?" My reply for the past 10 years has been "No, but I DO ask you if you'd be willing to write a check to Habitat for Humanity or our local HomeBuilders Foundation for $100 or $150.  I've never had a prospect refuse that, and have raised thousands for the charities in the process.  That way, they ARE paying for my time, but feeling charitable at the same time.  If anyone balked at that offer, I'd balk at going out and investing my time.





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4.
RE:Frustrated
From: Rand Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 21, 2013 6:35 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:

I don't get this at all.  Why are we as Architects afraid to ask to me compensated for our time?  Would your legal counsel drive over to your house, or your doctor, and then give you his 2 cents worth for free, or ask you to write a check to some charitable organization?  This just doesn't make sense, folks.  If someone is going to pay someone, then the person who wants your advice should pay you.  Exacting a pound of flesh to a charitable entity is just a passive-aggressive way of getting something from the hoped-for client because we didn't have the courage to request compensation for what we do.  And there is no reason why we should not be paid for our time.  If all of us requested at least something to do things like this, then none of us would have to play these games.  You are all highly skilled, licensed professionals and you deserve remuneration for your advice and counsel, just like any other professional. 
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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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5.
RE:Frustrated
From: Douglas Walter, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 22, 2013 5:53 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:

Since the first face to face visit is for all intents and purposes a SALES call, it is a necessary marketing expense. We can't expect the homeowners to hire us sight unseen; investing a couple hours (max) up front is how you establish a relationship and trust.  Getting the homeowners in the habit of paying Habitat or HomeBuilders Foundation "for my time" is getting them in the habit of paying for services, and makes both of us feel good about the transaction.  Since I prequalify the clients on the phone, my close rate on these "free" site visits is about 70%, and is WELL worth the time.

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Douglas Walter AIA
Principal
Doug Walter Architects
Denver CO
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6.
RE:Frustrated
From: Peter Harmon, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 25, 2013 6:16 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
   Here's another take on this discussion: when a potential client calls (and usually a "cold-call" and not a referral) and ask if I charge for a face to face meeting I usually reply with a "depends".  I then explain that if the purpose is primarily a "PR" meeting to meet and greet, view the project site, have a very brief discussion of their planned scope of work as well as the way my office works in terms of projects and fees than I do not charge and limit the meeting to one hour maximum. 
   However, if they decide they prefer a "working" meeting to get into their project, solicit my ideas, and help them make up their mind on what to do (or can be done) than I charge for that meeting at my hourly rate and expect payment at conclusion of the meeting.  When this is explained during the initial phone call prior there is no awkwardness and the meeting goes well.  I've found this to work well for me and has been well received by potential clients.  I've never lost a job (to my knowledge) based on this policy. 
   Architects are traditionally overly generous with services and expertise; however, when expertise is presented professionally as a valued service my potential customers have readily agreed and appreciated the value given-- especially if it helps them to decide whether to proceed with a project, look for a more cost effective solution (scale back expectations) or sell and buy a different home that better meets their needs for less investment.  This often saves them a lot of time AND MONEY!

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Peter Harmon AIA
Owner-Architect
Peter B. Harmon, A.I.A.
Concord CA
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7.
RE:Frustrated
From: Rand Soellner
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 26, 2013 5:45 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
I like your approach, Peter.  Well done.  I would like to implement that.

Personally, I do not charge for a first meeting AT MY OFFICE.  And I'll let the client take as long as they want to review what they want and what I can do to help them.  I'll even drive them around to look at my built projects.
But there's something wrong (it feels to me) about a potential client expecting an Architect to come to their place of business or home and to spill their guts about all the great things we can do for them here and there and literally GIVE them our ideas and not charge for that.  At the very least, we should receive some form of payment that could be used toward their deposit, should they decide to proceed with our services and if they decide to not do that, then they will have paid for  some good ideas from a professional. 

Again, thank you for sharing your positive and professional approach.

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Rand Soellner AIA
Architect/Owner/Principal
Home Architects
Cashiers NC
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8.
RE:Frustrated
From: Mr. Michael Malone, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 27, 2013 6:59 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Greetings all;  This is an interesting set of discussions and it has made me think of the way I "sell" my firm in a different way.  Historically almost all of my work comes from referrals from other clients or folks who have know us in some other capacity.  We also get calls from folks who have seen our projects in publications, but these are often unqualified calls from folks who have very little understanding of what the projects cost and are often very disappointed by what we tell them.  I have always made first time visits to potential clients without charging them becasue I felt I had to meet them, give them an opprotunity to get to know me and usually I would share my portfolio and use this as a way to indicate how clever and creative we are, what a good resource we would be for them to hire. While I may occasionally share ideas about how to site their house, or ways I might approach a renovation, these comments are never enough for them to go and get something built.  I would not make a drawing speculatively render any real services unless they clearly knew they were on the clock and going to be charged for it.  The idea that some of you charge for a first meeting (or ask for a donation to a chairity) has never occured to me and I'm intrigued by the idea that it is analogous to a visit with a lawyer or health care provider.  I'd be interested in how you all feel you have to sell yourselves in an intial interview and if you feel that's someing that deserves compensation.   

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Michael Malone AIA
Michael Malone Architects
Dallas TX
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9.
RE:Frustrated
From: Pamela Leonard, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 28, 2013 5:41 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Interestingly enough, my mother is dealing with the estate of her mother and the attorney she hired to help her met with her, explained the process and what her and his roles would be, and looked through all of the information mom had and then outlined the next steps. When mom and dad agreed they would hire him, he then said from that point on, he was on the clock. Mom was surprised he wasn't already and his explanation was he hadn't been hired yet and neither of them knew anything about one another. Thus, he was not charging them for the first hour.

My aunt, however, hired an attorney to threaten to sue and she was billed for every minute of her meeting. So it can depend on the relationship and need.

Same for architects.

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Pamela Leonard AIA
Architect
Jackson MS
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10.
RE:Frustrated
From: Judith Wasserman, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 28, 2013 6:17 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
In my very small firm of 2, we always charge for the initial consultation for a remodeling project. 
That visit includes programming the project, so that we know the scope for which we are making a proposal. It also includes a "tour" of the house and grounds, looking at pictures the prospective client may have cut from magazines, and finding out about each other. This visit takes 2-3 hours and costs $150, which is dirt cheap for 2 architects. 
We always tell the clients about this ahead of time, giving them plenty of opportunity to back out. We also ask them to do "homework" (listing what's wrong with their house and what their goals are) and explain that we will be "discussing options, restraints, opportunities, etc.  By the end, you have a better sense of the remodel process, how our office works, and an inkling of what direction(s) your project can take." This quote is from an email we always send them.
If people balk at paying $150, we figure they won't like our fees, either. We believe that giving it away diminishes the value of our service.
BTW - for new houses, we do not charge, since we are not offering anything - no analysis of existing conditions or zoning, etc.
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Judith Wasserman AIA
Bressack & Wasserman
Palo Alto CA
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11.
RE:Frustrated
From: Donald Duffy, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 27, 2013 7:39 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
My policy is to charge if I go to a perspective clients house.
The visit is a greet and meet and more importantly it is a working session for me. A consultation specific to the their needs and the project. I hold nothing back evaluating the potential of their ideas, looking for trouble spots and we have a great time dreaming. My energy comes through and in these types of meetings. The excitement I have for the work also comes through. We have very hi closure rate because of this approach. The information discussed is about process, cost,  project potential, builders, other resources. All this information left behind for the client to ruminate on. I leave sketches as well.
I have a 2 hour minimum, or $300.00. I do this several times a week. In a year these interview/consultations mean 10s of thousands of dollars to the firm on interview fees alone. And well into 6 figures for the project fees that come from closing the deals.
We very seldom get  push back from perspective clients. My office manager preps them for what they can expect will happen in this meeting and what they should expect to receive for such a meeting.

If the client comes to the office we do not charge. I try to keep these meeting to under  2 hours. The nature of this meeting is totally different. We do not talk about project specifics, more about general ideas and the conversation is broad ranging as we try to find common ground. The client may share plans, photos, list, but i do not sketch or address the specifics in this  first meeting. However, there is still valuable knowledge imparted for them to take away.








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Donald Duffy AIA
Don Duffy Architecture
Charlotte NC
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12.
RE:Frustrated
From: John Stewart, AIA
To: Custom Residential Architects Network
Posted: Mar 19, 2013 6:59 PM
Subject: RE:Frustrated
Message:
Believe me you are a lot better off. Let this client go unless they come back to you and ask you to fix the other person's mess!

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John Stewart AIA
Stewart Associates Architects
San Carlos CA
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