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Need help from a Professional (or at least someone who has done this before)

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I just got my first customer who is willing to pay for one of my designs. Which presents a couple of dilemmas.

 

I grew up around contruction type people and I know alot of the terminology.  I don't have the desire or time to take enough classes to become an architect but would like to take classes to become better at home design. I designed the home we built last year and my husband was the General Contractor.

 

Question 1: What type of classes would you take to make more accurate designs (or maybe more buildable would be the right word)?

 

Question 2: When I am asked if I am an Architect I say no, however how do I desicribe what I do, is it just a designer or is it more than that?

 

Question 3: When it comes to billing a customer ????????? no ideas there at all??

 

Question 4: Would really appreciate it, if someone has a design questionaire to give to a customer who has no idea what their design style is, that would like to share with me.

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In my State it is a $5,000.00 fine levied by the Texas Architectural Board for claiming or intimating that one is an Architect (I know, I almost got fined for just saying I use "Chief Architect" software but I got that straightened out, no problem). I call myself a "Building Designer or Construction Designer".

 

I started out as an Apartment Maintenance Person, then was promoted to Manage 60 maintenance men, porters, plumbers, electricians, carpenters , carpet cleaners and HVAC technicians for a large Property Management company. I had good leadership skills , an ability to listen and communicate well with bosses and workers. I supervised large renovation projects and helped evaluate the condition of investment commercial properties. I eventually started my own remodeling business, doing my own drawings. I started with Home Designer type software and then graduated to Chief Architect.

 

I have never had any formal classes or training other than squarely looking at what others do and have done in the field and in plans. When I need an interior decorator I hire one or when I need a Structural Engineer I seek one out. When I encounter a term I do not understand, I look it up and get it clearly defined. When I do not understand something, I just say so and get it understood.

 

I charge $75.00 per hour for my services. Competent Architects commonly charge a lot more per hour and depending upon the scope of the project Architects are worth their fees for sure, especially when the project is not already clearly defined and developed. You should survey local Architects, Drafters and Designers to see what they are charging and then decide for yourself what to charge.

Some designers charge by the square foot (such a figure can be worked out for yourself, I prefer an hourly figure, I have never signed or offered to sign design contracts but many designers do develop their own from their own experiences. I am kinda of old fashioned where my word is the contract where maintaining another's trust is my responsibility). You have to develop your own style and policies and then keep to them.

 

Most local colleges offer drafting and Architectural classes which you can take or audit. The standard is competence and certainty about your own abilities to plan and create. Accuracy is a personal, competence matter and is not something one is trained to, rather it is an Ethical standard one imposes upon yourself. Training and classes expand your understood nomenclature, general and specific understanding and control of your tools and concepts. In terms of Education, always follow your own interests and not someone elses "know best" (the only person who can know best for you is YOU)

 

When I develop a custom home design for someone, I try to find out what is real to them relative to a total budget (The easiest and most worthless thing I can do is to design something they cannot hope to afford). I like to have them give me photos or sketches of designs that they like or an Architectural look they have affinity for to help guide the Architectural look and feel of the home. Often they will have a "napkin sketch" of the potential floor plan that I can use as a basis for starting the design.

 

I do this work and use these tools because I love it and it makes me happy to do so.

 

DJP

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On the same subject what is the typical per SF change for drawing/designing a home from scratch?  I just finished doing a two story home for a contractor friend and only charged him $400 as I was basically using his design to learn this new software (I come from ACAD Architect).

I was wondering on future jobs what to charge.

Thanks

Alan

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I might start at the end and work back from there. 

 

What to you intend to deliver to a customer? Full construction drawings ready for bid? 

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Anyone can draw a home plan and present it to the local building council. The issue is do you know and understand span tables. In Australia you would not be allowed to draw the construction plans unless you are a qualified Draftsmen or Architect or Engineer.

 

However a home owner can draw their own home plans for submission to council but the building inspector would require an Engineer to sign off on the plan and its specifications. Here computer plans can be drawn and then given to an engineer to be checked. Then redrawn and presented to the Building Department of the local Council for approval. Here in Australia you could call yourself a " Computer Aided Home Designer." and charge about $8 per sq meter.  Our Draftsmen charge about $15- $20 per square meter. Our Architects charge around $95 to $250 per sq.m. for up to 3 story building and more for anything higher. What insurance company is going to insure your work? You will still need to do some training in wind velocities and the codes for those areas, and sit for a Fire Code Licence.

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I bought this program specifically to restart my side business of designing houses, additions, etc. It has been a life saver compared to the old T-square & triangle days, especially with changes.

I think any type of class that will help with building codes, materials, etc. will be a help. Even just going to a job site where houses are being built & seeing them in various stages is very informative. Some of the house plan magazines are good to pick up to see what types of layouts are popular/efficient/current.

Definitely do not mention the word "architect" in any advertising, etc. I just tell people that I design/draw various residential projects. If you don't have an official title from a governing agency, try to stay away from giving yourself one.

As far as billing, I use a combination of a base price then an add-on per square foot. The base can be determined by how much time you think something will take you to draw & what you feel your time is worth per hour.

As for a questionnaire, one thought is to ask your customer to list things in 3 categories. Must haves, like to haves & if possibles. Ask if they like a particular style of house they like. Ask them the type of rooms they are looking for. In college we learned that even "bubble diagrams" are good to start with. Place them in an area a particular room might go. Adjust the bubble size by the approximate size of each room that the client may want. Some rooms need to have a certain minimum amount of square footage, such as bedrooms.

I hope this may help a little bit.

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I thought this forum was for functions and use of the software?

This is more a consumer-come-operator matter....

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