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Practicing part time

  • 1.  Practicing part time

    Posted 06-30-2016 08:39

    Has anyone found a template for taking an office to part time?  It's not just the clients; but the insurance and everything else that goes along with a full time practice.


    Walter Croft Architect

    2 Woodside Lane

    Riverton, NJ 08077



  • 2.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-02-2016 13:06
    Now, that is interesting. There are many Architects reaching 65-70 years…in fact a bunch of us. This would be perfect but, for the clients.
    You know how they control our destiny…?! Architecture would be a wonderful profession if it wasn't for the clients…(that is q joke).
    The clients pay our fees, they hire us, and we work for them. They control our destiny and our lives.


  • 3.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-04-2016 18:39

    I don't think there is a template since everyone's situation is unique. I reactivated my practice to part time status after a six-year period of dormancy while working for others FT. Expecting to fully retire, a client of 30-years duration asked me to resume servicing his commercial-industrial portfolio, which required that I crank up my practice part time, carry professional liability insurance, and travel to job sites as needed. I do not have any employees, but have reliable drafting support on a free lance basis as needed. My part time practice is on going now for five years and has worked out successfully for my client, his tenants, and me. 

    Edward Acker AIA
    Senior Architect
    Winchester VA

  • 4.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-04-2016 19:41


    Been working part time for years. I work when I want and for whom I want. However, I have found it best to practice as a sole practitioner, but still under an S chapter corporation, in order to eliminate the mandatory salary requirements of other employees. The E&O insurance tends to lag the revenues but does eventually respond to the lower fees with lower premiums. I also choose to work out of my home which further reduces office expenses and other overhead. Best of luck I have enjoyed this for many years.

    Alexander Smith AIA
    Alphathree Group, Inc.
    Brentwood TN

  • 5.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-05-2016 12:27

    I did just this in 2008. I made the decision before leaving a multi state practice with 100 staff. Decided to do what contractors have been doing for years. Don't self preform what you can contract out. I have no staff, keep my insurances at the minimum (depends on client/project type) work out of a home studio (carry business/contents insurance) separate from my main house, and associate with large firms if a project is too large for me to handle on my own. I have 2 or 3 really good production staff available ( as consultants on consultant agreements) and file 1099s at end of the year for them. I have built a very tech oriented practice. I have an extra production station in my studio if i need to have a staff person on site. Make sure your local zoning codes allow a home office. Also it helps to specialize and only do projects in that specialty. I have focused on historic preservation/renovation projects and do a lot of research reports and site documentation, which keeps my risk level low for E&O insurance carrier. I fill out a report each year and negotiate my E&O rate depending on risk level.  I have years where I do multiple projects of 1-5 million or more ( have one now where SD are complete that will be 15 million ) and years where the entire year is historic documentation and research reports. I get to chose how much I want to do, and it seems to work for me. Give me a call and I can elaborate. 602-309-3524

    Ronald Peters AIA
    HistoricStreetscapes PLLC
    Mesa AZ

  • 6.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-06-2016 21:12
    Hi, Folks ---
    As a solo, small-projects guy (mostly residential), I've been able to enjoy the more-traditional craft of practice, doing my own measuring, and manual drawing.  My specialties include dealing with tight sites, solving tortured roofline issues, etc., along with the more mundane projects.
    Client meetings are often around the kitchen or dining-room table, and I'm paid at the end of the meeting!  For young parents, the "after-bedtime" meetings (+/- 9:00 PM) have worked very well.  Personal attention and quick turn-arounds work wonders. 
    Contacts are found in the local Home Show in March, on my modest website, through referrals, and, in the yellow pages (yup, display ads).  Referrals are from Contractors and Clients, but also from the larger Arky offices in the area, who generally could never touch a house addition.  People look at the Arky listings, see a name they recognize, and call that number.  It's typically a larger office, so the person is referred to me! 
    Now at 70, I might be pacing-it a tad, but not much, nor do I ever intend to!
    People ask about "retirement", and I tell 'em:
    Most Architects never retire; we just draw to a conclusion...
    Bill Devlin
    william j. devlin aia, inc.,
    Springfield, MA

  • 7.  RE: Practicing part time

    Posted 07-21-2017 15:50
    Hello All ---
    In a recent posting, I asked if anyone was interested in my re-posting an old item (06 Jul. '16) on "finding clients".  A request was received, so, here's an updated, elaborated version of it...
    Finding Clients:
    Do Odd Jobs, Have Specialties:
    Again, I'm a sole-practitioner, all-Manual, small-projects guy, with a home office.  My specialties include dealing with tight sites, solving tortured roofline issues, laying-out good "social kitchens", rebuilding-and-adapting the structural abuse that's occurred in old buildings etc.  Some of the conditions I've seen are horrendous, implying that only the spider-webs are now holding-up the building.  And yes, occasionally, my first question is; "Could we discuss this outside?!"
    And, in-between:
    The "odd-balls" above are great; I enjoy a good challenge, and their Owners are usually very appreciative of having their messes cleaned up. 
    But, an odd-ball is exactly that; not the daily fare.  So sure, there are the simple additions-&-renovations, Code fixes, etc., that keep the home-office running.  Ah, but --- even these "mundane" jobs can be done well, or not.  One of the things I most-enjoy hearing is, "Wow, I never thought of that!"
    So, where do Prospects come from?
    The "Odd Jobs & Specialties" work, especially, comes from referrals.  Referrals are generally from Contractors and Clients, but also from the larger Arky offices in the area, who generally could never touch a tiny thing like a house addition.  People look at the Arky listings, see a name they recognize, and call that number.  It's typically a major office, so the person is referred to me!  Other referrals come from Builders' groups, and other business people with whom I've had contact / done business.
    Home Show:
    Lots of contacts are found in this area's most-prominent local Home Show in late March, which I've been in for 25 years.  I really enjoy that 4-day event (12 days with set-up, breakdown, recuperation, etc., 30 days with updates, presentation materials, new lists & literature, plus the first round of follow-ups, notes for next year, etc., etc.,...).  Lots of "Prospect Cards" filled-in (32 this year!) result in maybe 30% being "real", as in leading to actual projects.  All the folks I speak with at the Show get literature that outlines Architectural Services in some detail, including the "Initial Consultation Fee" (see ICF at bottom).  I've got retainers on 5 of this year's Prospects so far, and some others "look serious".
    My modest website (www.wmjdevlinarchitect.com) has yielded good results.  It needs updating, but will remain as a "static" site.  Years ago, a friend at an AIA meeting was very proud of his new site, with various inter-active elements, frequent postings, etc.  I've always known, that was not for me; I'm alone, and just can't keep-up with all that stuff.  And, "sure-'nuff", that same friend, several months later, was complaining of being "wiped-out-tired", from trying to keep-up with his site...
    Yellow Pages:
    Yup, print ads; many of my Prospects are older, and still grab the phonebook (as do I).  So, I've been carrying ads in 2 or 3 local books.  One problem; as phone companies have merged and degenerated, the now-separate "Media" company that does the ads in my books is such a pain-in-the-butt that I'm considering giving-up on those ads...
    Other Media:
    At the Home Show, there are 2 publications handed-out to attendees; one is the Show's own Guide, and one is a similar guide done by a local weekly paper.  I've gotten a few calls on those, and at least one job.
    For Program booklets for certain events, I'll sometimes place an ad.  Results; unknown.  There's another one that I might try this year.
    Free tickets:
    The Home Show sells tickets to Vendors at half-price, for "promo" purposes, etc.  I shower those on current Clients & Prospects, some friends and my vendors, etc.  Specific Prospect results; unknown.
    Business cards, 3-fold flyer:
    At events & meetings, I'll hand-out a few cards, as part of a conversation, etc.  If I'm thinking, I'll have some of my 8-1/2"x 11" 3-fold flyers on me to hand-out w/ the card.  The flyer has a brief outline of Architectural Services, and several examples of my work (color photo + a few lines of description).  I keep some in the car.
    When I ask new Prospects how they came to call me, about a third say, they've "seen your work", or "heard your name", with no specific source of spotting my name, so, there's no actual ad, or other source, to "attach to" those folks.
    As I've driven-around, I've noticed tiny houses on small lots in good areas, along with a few "mid-century FLW" houses by local Taliesin grad, Elroy Webber.  There are also a few "Tech-Built"-style houses (in '67-'68, I worked in Karl Koch's office).  My idea is, to "proposition" those Owners with a cover letter, a card, and the 3-fold flyer, explaining my specialties, and asking that they contact me if they are thinking of renovations / additions...
    ICF...Finding Serious Prospects...:
    With rare exceptions, for my initial visit, I charge an "Initial Consultation Fee", "credited to the Retainer if we proceed".  This helps identify the serious prospects.  I started this after wasting 7-or-8 hours on an especially bad tire-kicker 20+ years ago.  It started at $100.00, peaking at $300.00 in '07-'08.  After the crash, I waited a couple of years, then eased-it-back-in at $100.00.  It's back-up to $200.00 now, although I occasionally fudge it down a tad, if I'm feeling hesitancy on someone who sounds good.
    Hope this helps!  
    People ask about "retirement", and I tell 'em:
    Most Architects never retire; we just draw to a conclusion...
    Bill Devlin
    william j. devlin aia, inc.,
    Springfield, MA
    (feature font; "Magneto")