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  • #16
    Thanks Andrew too. You're a sage.

    I do have all I need at my own disposal. It's just wanting feedback from my good mates to confirm it frankly, and actually putting up an interesting thread for others too I guess, but back to me.

    Andrew, the 'Niche' is something I have to embrace isn't it. Thank you again for reminding me why I got into this thing in the first place. I am otherwise unemployable.


    I think you have a good idea too Richo in the small joke sort of thing. I must say a wee wetter does relax any most situation usually and I do indulge.

    Got the business card ready and the website nearly done and as soon as this blasted house is finished ready for the porno shots, I'll have the necessary focus as well.

    (And in case you've missed the clues, I only have a little more pressure in having our house on the market too. See you guys in Sydney ASAP)

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    • #17
      Well I got one yesterday!

      Took 3 weeks to even acknowledge my email sent 3 times requesting for quote for services and a list of informations they would require. Came back with an email with four lines about fees and nothing else - not even an apology for the delay.

      And one of the included costs - $300 for 10 year archiving fee! WTF?

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Richard View Post
        Well I got one yesterday!

        Took 3 weeks to even acknowledge my email sent 3 times requesting for quote for services and a list of informations they would require. Came back with an email with four lines about fees and nothing else - not even an apology for the delay.

        And one of the included costs - $300 for 10 year archiving fee! WTF?
        Bushfire consultant or traffic engineer Dick?

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        • #19
          No mate, private certifier! About $2000 for change of use to hair salon.

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          • #20
            Let me guess, the job went to one of the numerous competitors?

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            • #21
              Richard. You should check this fee calculation sheet from North Sydney Council. Note that a Change of Use application fee is $285 PLUS a compulsory $75 archiving fee. Was your certifier marking that fee up by $225 or was he giving you a discount of $60, assuming that the rest of that $2000 was for related services.


              http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/re...tion_Sheet.pdf
              Last edited by simon seasons; 08-03-2012, 10:31.

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              • #22
                Thanks Simon

                Mate I haven't checked the such fee structures for years. We didn't even entertain the certifier's proposal soon as the saw the total and the $300 10 year archive fee. I'm not normally one to argue with anyone else's fee proposal as I think people charge their worth. That said 2-3 weeks to even acknowledge several requests would suggest even if FREE they are charging TOO much!

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                • #23
                  We do the "first visit free" version. In reality it tends to be a 1-2 hour meeting to start followed by another long written letter with explanaations, some negotiation, about a month of stalling and numerous questions and some design work before we actually get appointed.
                  What pisses me off is the clients that just don't get back to you after deciding to go for someone else, usually a cheap-ass technician on the basis of cost. It seems they don't appreciate the time we put in at the start of the project.. When that happens I always resolve not to spend so much time 'relationship forming' at the start; its too painful!

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by gorgon View Post
                    We do the "first visit free" version. In reality it tends to be a 1-2 hour meeting to start followed by another long written letter with explanaations, some negotiation, about a month of stalling and numerous questions and some design work before we actually get appointed.
                    What pisses me off is the clients that just don't get back to you after deciding to go for someone else, usually a cheap-ass technician on the basis of cost. It seems they don't appreciate the time we put in at the start of the project.. When that happens I always resolve not to spend so much time 'relationship forming' at the start; its too painful!
                    Been there done that. That's pretty much why, unless it's a repeat client, I limit giving away too much at the start. They DON'T appreciate the initial work - that's a common thread - so why give IP and skill away for nothing. I'd much prefer to spend the time stolen from me doing something for myself, or just reading book....

                    Might sound harsh but after nearly 30 years in the game it does become a little easier to read potential clients. maybe it's more difficult starting out - wanting to establish credentials, wanting to please a potential client...

                    Come on guys, go and spend 3 hours with a new lawyer and see if you get it for free. Take your car to be serviced, get them to spend 3 hours looking over it and telling you want it needs and get that for free.

                    We we, as a profession start behaving like our time and skills are worth something we'll start to be more respected and achieve better business outcomes. On the other hand if the Game is a hobby, go for it....

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                    • #25
                      Tufan,

                      With a lot of work behind you and plenty of work coming in I suppose you can afford to take that attitude. It would be much easier of course if we could charge like Lawyers, but unfortunately whilst only real Lawyers can offer legal services, anyone with a cheap CAD program can offer something that to those who don't know any better seems a comparable service for a ridiculously lower price. The idea of just treating potential clients as cash cows from minute one in those circumstances is not one likely to be successful. I do appreciate the alternative view that if we don't put a value on our services then clients won't value our services, but I fear in at least my market that it is much easier said than done.

                      I see the time and small amount of ideas invested in a potential client as simply part of my marketing expenses. But much more focused marketing with a better ROI than advertisements etc as I'm having a one to one with a person I know has a project and a budget and is looking for an architect.

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                      • #26
                        There does seem to be a bit of issue with fees and services in the industry, in most design industries I think (interior, web, graphic, etc). Could it be the clients see us as people who sit at home and drawing pretty pictures in a sketchbook, where as lawyers and doctors are the big players with their big legal books and stuff. I doubt many lawyer books have pictures, while a lot of architect's books are just pictures

                        It's almost like anyone can do the job, and Grand Designs shows this a lot when the people building the house talked about designing and managing the project. Like some have said, there can be someone with a basic understanding of a CAD program who can look a different house plans on the internet and mix and match.

                        Something needs to change in the industry, as our time is quite valuable, and we should charge to reflect this. Question for the people, do you charge for;

                        - Time taken to drive for a site inspection?
                        - Printing
                        - Time taking their phone calls?
                        - Research in products, principles?

                        And other small stuff which is vital for the project. (If this starts to get off-topic, maybe a new thread mods?)

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          I'm not sure the 'lawyers & car mechanics charge from the first hour' is neccesarily a valid arguement as to why architects should do the same.

                          The value and overall cost of the architects appointment is just that much more complicated , and potentially financially risky for the client, than with a mechanic or even a lawyer.

                          To service your car , or have a 1 hour consultation with a lawyer to get legal advise , will cost a few hundred dollars at most and will end up with you having a fixed car, and sound legal advice after a day or two.

                          When you appoint an architect , a client on even a really small job is usually looking to trust someone with an amount of around two hundred thousand dollars ( often times the most money the clients are ever going to invest in one thing : thier house) , and is going to pay a total fee at the end of the day of closer to two thousand dollars.

                          They are going to trust this achitect to make the correct choices and be there to advise them for a process that will take many months or even a few years, and will be paying this architect fees throughout this entire time.

                          I think in light of this , the commitment expected of clients in appointing an achitect is VASTLY different than the commitment of a client taking thier car in for a service , and thus the achitects can afford a little 'give' in thier approch to getting an appointment : in order to build trust and a relationship


                          In my book (as a sole proprietor) : having a meeting with a potential client and even doing a sketch proposal or two 'on risk' costs my business very little , and is what comes easy to an architect.

                          I see the 'lost time' of doing sketch proposals for potential clients as actually me saving on having to have an expensive marketing and advertising budget that some of the bigger 'charge from hour 1' commercial firms have to spend.

                          Added to that : its a process which allows ME to check out how I feel about the potential clients : just as they are checking out me.
                          In a business relationship that lasts way longer than the hour or two it takes to service a car : I also want to make sure that there is synergy between me and the potential clients .
                          Spending a bit of 'free' meeting and sketch time up front , without formalising an official appointment before I even start sketching, allows me to make sure I am happy to take the clients on , just as much as it allows then to decide if they are confortable to work with me.

                          As a small '1 man band' , being stuck with a bad client, or one who begrudges having to work with, or pay me, would be way more detrimental to my business than a few 'lost hours' up front.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Richo View Post
                            ...Question for the people, do you charge for;

                            - Time taken to drive for a site inspection?
                            - Printing
                            - Time taking their phone calls?
                            - Research in products, principles?

                            And other small stuff which is vital for the project. (If this starts to get off-topic, maybe a new thread mods?)
                            In another time of my life I worked for a group of engineering firms. Most engineering firms are well managed and they are very big on matrix to measure everything they do. As a result they bill for everything.
                            We billed for travel time but only if it wasn't local. Typically it was at 1/2 our standard billing rate for out of town travel. It we had a fixed fee contract we tracked our hours so we could use the time history to better estimate our future projects. A lot of contracts we had were time and materials with a not to exceed price, especially if the owner's scope wasn't set.

                            We only did printing for in house use, all other was sent out and billed as a reimbursable. Some in-house printing was billed out as reimbursable especially if it involved color or binding.

                            Conference calls weren't typically tracked per se but hours were recorded down to the quarter of an hour, so as to be more fair in to the client on the hourly billing schedule (supposely the same pracatice as lawyers), typically. However, I did work for some environmental consulting firms and I kept a bound daily journal that documented all phone calls as to start time, end time, whose was on the call and major points of discussion for legal reasons.

                            All research for products or ideas that was for the cleints benifit was tracted and recorded, and billed if possible.

                            Not to get off thread, but we also tracked and budgeted proposal writing and initial client meetings. If the project went forward the time and effort was billed as it was built into the project fee. For those jobs we got, we were paid to "talk" to the client, for those we didn't, we put down the cost to marketing. And, the firms all tracked marketing cost.

                            As a manager, you want to have employees hit billing targets, technicians around 90% billable and managers around 75%. The higher up the food chain in the office the less hours you're allowed to have non-billable.

                            The antithesis of this is your typical architectural firm. Most don't even track the partner's hours because they don't want to be bothered with time sheets. What a waste of resourses.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Richard View Post
                              Yeah same feeling here!

                              I worry when one watches the clock that the client gets the feeling evey second you spend on a job, call etc, etc will be billed like a solicitor! I view the same from consultants I work with, if they are recluctant to give any feedback prior to the client signing off on their fees, I get a bit nervous! And if their fee structure includes a masssive list of incidentals ie "calls charged in blocks of 15 minutes with a minimum charge of 15min" I tell the client straight up to walk!
                              is this on earth?

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                              • #30
                                I specialize in tenant spaces, such as restaurants, retail, office and medical.
                                I usually meet the clients on site, walk the space, check out the existing Mechanical/electrical/plumbing systems. They usually talk about what feel & finishes they want, and I reign them back in to focus on the layout, function, and circulation first. I personally do zero work without having a signed proposal / contract. Too often I've found that if you do work on a floor plan or a sketchup model to 'entice' clients, they take it and use it to shop around for less expensive architects. Once you have a portfolio that speaks for itself, you don't need to offer freebies or work prior to signed contracts. Also, always always always get a deposit as a retainer up front.

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