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What do you want from an architect?


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1 minute ago, Jilly said:

Isn't that what it's like for everybody in nearly every business, nowadays? People are killing retail by going to the shops then buying from Amazon to save a few pounds. 

Not sure, I only go to Poundland.

Resturanteurs are mostly to blame. Ridiculous business models based on the first few weeks of takings.

I know a number of young chefs, they all want to do good food and reasonable prices. I always suggest the do barely adequate food and very cheap prices. Not done McDonald's any harm.

 

A quick look at the NACSBA data and it shows that in  2019, 15,902 self built houses where completed.

2,227 where built in the biggest region, the SW. Knowing the SW, and it takes me at least 2 hours to get half way across it, it is a big area.

So to make a living from self builders, you would need to capture 20 of those a year at £5,000 a pop, maybe more.

Don't sound much, 1% of the market, but I bet it is hard.

Whish I had 1% of the market.

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5 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:


What problems are you talking about? 
 

I’m not here to solve their problems, I’m here to get them planning on a nice house. Isn’t that the problem.

I think the 'problems' are our steep learning curve which can make us 'difficult' clients, through our initial ignorance of the whole process (see any new post on the forum), until we gradually morph into an experienced mini developer, perhaps ready to do it all again. (I believe it's only 10 thousand hours, not 20 thousand BTW). 

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19 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

A quick look at the NACSBA data and it shows that in  2019, 15,902 self built houses where completed.

2,227 where built in the biggest region, the SW. Knowing the SW, and it takes me at least 2 hours to get half way across it, it is a big area.

So to make a living from self builders, you would need to capture 20 of those a year at £5,000 a pop, maybe more.

Don't sound much, 1% of the market, but I bet it is hard.

Whish I had 1% of the market.

 

I wonder how many of those were self-PM'd, probably not a lot of them.

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4 minutes ago, SimonD said:

 

I wonder how many of those were self-PM'd, probably not a lot of them.

There may be a market in taking on PMing for a (expletive deleted)ed up project.

Would need a big trades contact list though.

 

Though apart from some contacts, being an architect does not qualify one to being a good PM.

Edited by SteamyTea
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32 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:


What problems are you talking about? 
 

I’m not here to solve their problems, I’m here to get them planning on a nice house. Isn’t that the problem.

 

Does what you have read here on the forum, and any other self-builder experiences you've collected, mirror that?

 

Does the design of a house not require the upfront solving of a host of problems (particularly related to a self-builder) that are not necessarily required to gain planning approval?

 

Are you going to require that your client has a minimum amount of PM experience so they don't take up your time with questions and revision?

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

Not sure, I only go to Poundland.

Resturanteurs are mostly to blame. Ridiculous business models based on the first few weeks of takings.

I know a number of young chefs, they all want to do good food and reasonable prices. I always suggest the do barely adequate food and very cheap prices. Not done McDonald's any harm.

 

A quick look at the NACSBA data and it shows that in  2019, 15,902 self built houses where completed.

2,227 where built in the biggest region, the SW. Knowing the SW, and it takes me at least 2 hours to get half way across it, it is a big area.

So to make a living from self builders, you would need to capture 20 of those a year at £5,000 a pop, maybe more.

Don't sound much, 1% of the market, but I bet it is hard.

Whish I had 1% of the market.


Where do you get 20 from? I don’t think I am limited to the south west personally. Zoom meetings make it countrywide.
 

I’d only need about 7-8 customers a year to be earning a normal architect wage if I charge 5k. I don’t think that seems too many but good point about the market. It’s not a massive market.

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18 minutes ago, SimonD said:

 

Does what you have read here on the forum, and any other self-builder experiences you've collected, mirror that?

 

Does the design of a house not require the upfront solving of a host of problems (particularly related to a self-builder) that are not necessarily required to gain planning approval?

 

Are you going to require that your client has a minimum amount of PM experience so they don't take up your time with questions and revision?


I wouldn’t be acting as their project manager unless they paid me to be. So to answer the question, no. I don’t really see how the issues other than design and planning would be in my remit, I suppose it’s down to what kind of a service I would offer. 

Are you a self builder, and do you need a single person to do everything for you then?

 

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

We could create a 'cartoon' house on an imaginary bit of land. Then those people who have already built, and know many of the varied problems to be overcome, can chip in.

Think of it as a mock exams of what you may have to put up with.

You may find that dealing with self builders, on a tight budget, is not where you want to be doing business.

Similar in my business. Michelin service at kebab shop prices wanted.


 

I really like that idea ? 

 

just for the people on the forum generally to give their experiences 

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

I though it too obvious to mention that there are several easy to use packages that files can be exported to.

Shows that some practices need to change is they think about technology.

I wonder if it helps that the Architect and Architectural Technologist that did the work at the practise we used are both relatively young?

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2 minutes ago, Thorfun said:

I wonder if it helps that the Architect and Architectural Technologist that did the work at the practise we used are both relatively young?

I constantly point out to people that Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee, and Steve Jobs, if he was still alive, are now pensioners.

 

Could probably export most file types as a basic .txt file, then rebuild it.

There is free, open source, CAD software, I think our very own, grubby fingernailed @Onoff knows a bit about it.

Like me, he pays for nothing.

 

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19 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:


 

I really like that idea ? 

 

just for the people on the forum generally to give their experiences 

Start a topic about it. I suggest 100 m², two stories and a simple rectangle to start with.

The main point is not really the design, but the problems people faced getting past all the obstacles at the planning stage and up to actual ground breaking.

 

Regarding being national, not sure many people would want to spend £5k without meeting the person who is going to get their dream approved.

Travel would be your biggest overhead, assuming you work from home. 

£40k does not go far in the business world, a new cooker costs more in a commercial kitchen. 

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9 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

Start a topic about it. I suggest 100 m², two stories and a simple rectangle to start with.

The main point is not really the design, but the problems people faced getting past all the obstacles at the planning stage and up to actual ground breaking.

 

Regarding being national, not sure many people would want to spend £5k without meeting the person who is going to get their dream approved.

Travel would be your biggest overhead, assuming you work from home. 

£40k does not go far in the business world, a new cooker costs more in a commercial kitchen. 

 

When you say that, that 40k doesn’t go far, what does that mean exactly? 
 

I don’t have any other overheads no, 40k is much more than I earn at present. My biggest cost is PI which has gone up a lot recently because of National incidents. 


If I was to quit my job and work from home and I earned 40k, what am I missing because that sounds like a lot of theoretical money.

 

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3 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:


If I was to quit my job and work from home and I earned 40k, what am I missing because that sounds like a lot of theoretical money

Do you think you can never visit a client on the site?

As I said earlier, takes me 2 hours to get halfway across the West Country, by the very nature of self building, very few will be local.

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13 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

Do you think you can never visit a client on the site?

As I said earlier, takes me 2 hours to get halfway across the West Country, by the very nature of self building, very few will be local.


I don’t at the moment, but I have covid to thank for that mostly! 
 

I’m in a different situation where I work currently as we have offices, but while I can see that people would want to meet up, I’ve always found it pointless from a design point of view.  
 

I think it’s more to reassure the customers that I’m going to visit the site so I can ‘absorb the ambience’ or something, so it’s for their benefit.
 

It was sort of another thing I bothered about, going to people’s houses because you never know who’s going to be a wierdo who murders you. I’ve had 2-3 customers who were legitimately insane.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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If you have the burn to start your own business, I would say go for it! An ambulatory practice is very cheap to set up as you say, and on your business model, I don't think you should rule out at least one site visit. If you don't have a binding out clause on your first job, you could start off with your own clients in your spare time. You will need to turn over more than £40k to pay for overheads like your PI, equipment and a vehicle, or you can claim tax relief on your mileage and when you are established you can bill this to the client, but in the early days you will be keen to find clients and jump through hoops, or stay local, which might p*** your employer off and depends if you have a binding out clause, how seriously you take it and if you want to stay friends. Something also to bear in mind is that self builders might be only building once, and nearly all successful businesses need repeat custom from existing clients, so you need them to sing your praises for further clients, or sell more to them in the way of BC drawings, surveys etc

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Our case may or may not be a bit different to most- we'd decided early on that we would be happy with an off-the peg design from one of the "book plan" providers that there are a few of over here, as we perceived that the local Architects either provided something akin to a developer-grade scheme or the kind of Grand Designs jobbie that was far too sharp and extreme for our tastes.

We chose a design, I made contact with the gent asking if he could provide the plan reversed and with a couple of changes. After a to-and-fro he ended up doing a ground-up bespoke design for us, based on my views and requirements. He did 3d and video renderings, and after providing planning drawings for our Planning Consultant, subsequently appended them with extra notation for Building Control.

 

Only PDFs were required or provided. Neither the TF company nor their SE, nor BPC when they were doing the MVHR design, needed anything other than the PDF...

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Running your own business brings its own stresses and pleasures.

 

Everything is up to you, and you need to think as a business as well as a designer.

Invoicing, collecting payments, tax returns.

You have to jump when a client wants you.

Nobody else to share burdens or quandaries with

No money sometimes

Overdue payment sometimes

Very difficult to take holidays.

 

But

The stresses of solving your own problems are very different to in-house differences and doing as instructed. (I am saying less stress, others may disgree)

If you make money it is yours

Job satisfaction if all goes well.

Possibility of growing to a bigger practice and you still earn the money while on holiday

Great to have your own business employing who you want.

 

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7 minutes ago, dpmiller said:

Our case may or may not be a bit different to most- we'd decided early on that we would be happy with an off-the peg design from one of the "book plan" providers that there are a few of over here, as we perceived that the local Architects either provided something akin to a developer-grade scheme or the kind of Grand Designs jobbie that was far too sharp and extreme for our tastes.

We chose a design, I made contact with the gent asking if he could provide the plan reversed and with a couple of changes. After a to-and-fro he ended up doing a ground-up bespoke design for us, based on my views and requirements. He did 3d and video renderings, and after providing planning drawings for our Planning Consultant, subsequently appended them with extra notation for Building Control.

 

Only PDFs were required or provided. Neither the TF company nor their SE, nor BPC when they were doing the MVHR design, needed anything other than the PDF...


That sounds similar to what I would like to do, was it expensive for you? 
 

 

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Might be worth having a look at Shaun's site. The only thing that's changed since I dealt with him is that he's moved to a subscription model to search his range of offerings...

 

https://irish-house-plans.ie/

 

All I can say is that getting design and drawings, plus then using a skilled local Consultant for our application which was a change of design, but in an  ASSI/AONB, all ended up around the same cost you propose.

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wouldnt worry about your PI, most high street lenders wont accept an architect cert now on a new build they want a proper warranty.

 

If I was in your shoes I'd specialise on planning and how to get it, write your own cheques one you make a name for yourself doing that.

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4 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

Are you a self builder, and do you need a single person to do everything for you then?

 

Yes, I'm a self-builder and no, don't need a single person to do everything. I've done everything from the detailed design to building the whole house on my own, so quite the opposite of needing somebody. I am, however, a bit of an outlier in taking this path. The reason I've chosen this route is because I had some quite specific requirements in terms of the functional performance of the house and the materials I wanted to use which are fairly non-standard. I tried to educate my architect and he shifted somewhat in his approach but wasn't in the end interested, or capable, of delivering what we needed in terms of the technical side. On the other hand he was superb in the design of the house and navigating a particularly finicky planning environment we have where we are. What set the architect we chose apart was that he had an incredible ability to develop a relationship with us to understand what we wanted as clients and his design was spot on in this regard, and he spent a lot of time visiting the site. I don't think I'd ever employ an architect who didn't visit the site on at least a few occasions.

 

Around us, there seems to have been a big growth in design & build companies which appears to be what a lot of people like as they can just hand it all over.

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On 15/01/2022 at 17:32, IanR said:

 

 

I believe you have have high-lighted my point that the client is at a disadvantage if only the original architect has the CAD files.

 

That last statement sums it up. By ONLY the architect having the CAD files, means that you HAVE to go back to them for any changes. At which point, they have you over a barrell.

 

The reasons you end up there are many and varied, from legitimate reasons to modify the design to a unbuildable design and refusal to rectify.

 

Regardless of the reason, essentially as a client you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of, with your only other option being to start afresh with someone else.

 

Im sure some architects will protest and say they would never use this situation to their advantage. Few people in business are that morally principled even if they think they are.

 

Lets not forget, architects are people. Like any trade there will be a small number of exceptionally good, half will be OK, the remainder a waste of space. And all will have differing morals.

 

 

Edited by Roger440
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8 minutes ago, Roger440 said:

 

That last statement sums it up. By ONLY the architect having the CAD files, means that you HAVE to go back to them for any changes. At which point, they have you over a barrell.

 

The reasons you end up there are many and varied, from legitimate reasons to modify the design to a unbuildable design and refusal to rectify.

 

Regardless of the reason, essentially as a client you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of, with your only other option being to start afresh with someone else.

 

Im sure some architects will protest and say they would never use this situation to their advantage. Few people in business are that morally principled even if they think they are.

 

Lets not forget, architects are people. Like any trade there will be a small number of exceptionally good, half will be OK, the remainder a waste of space. And all will have differing morals.

 

 


I took over the design from an architect after planning once, I gave him a phonecall as his note said on the drawing and he got really sweary at me and I had to put the phone down. Something like ‘you shouldn’t be speaking to me it’s illegal’, what a plonker. I was just going to say it was a nice design and check the angle of the roof slope as it wasn’t shown on the PDF (it sloped in two unmeasurable directions). 
 

I think you’re right in that some architects are weird and awkward, but the reason to not give out CAD files is reasonable and legally justified. 
 

 

1 hour ago, Dave Jones said:

wouldnt worry about your PI, most high street lenders wont accept an architect cert now on a new build they want a proper warranty.

 

If I was in your shoes I'd specialise on planning and how to get it, write your own cheques one you make a name for yourself doing that.

I have to have insurance as an architect sadly, it’s a rip off to sole practitioners since it’s the same for someone doing extensions as it is high rise apartments.

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With my self-builders hat on I can say that we valued the architects input. We had a pretty clear idea of the design before we went to the architect, but they had some fairly valuable input which we both reckon enhanced it. To the OP - we paid a bit more than your £5k but that got us through planning and the building warrant. I'd say the help with the building warrant was just as useful - as a one off builder I have no interest in getting my head round everything so having someone who knows that stuff as their day job was invaluable. No need for CAD files really, I recall passing them on to a contractor for use once but that's it.

 

With my professional hat on, the CAD file debate is a bit interesting. I've spent most of my career to date working for large engineering consultants. In more recent years, the use of BIM has increased and all big projects now use it. Any profession not handing over their digital design to the BIM model co-ordinator wouldn't get the job. This model is not just used for construction, one of the perceived benefits is that the client gets a fully integrated model on construction completion so any future work, including demolition, should be easier to manage. In these cases however, the requirement to hand over CAD/BIM files is a contractual deliverable. So the answer here might be that if it's important to a self builder to have access to CAD files, write it into the contract with your architect. Then you'll find out how important it is, based on who refuses to work with you.

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