Architecture jobs moving to freelance/contract?


Somewhere I read that within the next 20 years or so most office jobs will move to contract/freelance. I recently became a full time designer on a contract basis. I work for 3 different companies and offer services to architects, builders and homeowners. I actually really like this setup and it works better for both me and my clients. From what I have seen this is common in architecture/design? It makes sense by saving companies thousands of dollars on software and insurance benefits. This would also eliminate a lot of the slackers that are just looking for a paycheck sitting in a cozy office. Your thoughts? 

Feb 9, 18 11:13 am

" It makes sense by saving companies thousands of dollars on software and insurance benefits. This would also eliminate a lot of the slackers that are just looking for a paycheck sitting in a cozy office. "

You sound like a partner.  Those slackers making your CD sets are expensive, its true.  And the new 7 series is very nice.

Feb 9, 18 11:42 am

Dangermouse, its actually an Audi A6 quattro :)


people on a contract/freelance basis are more on top of it, and get things done - they can't procrastinate - its do or die and I think contract/freelance is a deterrence to mediocrity - I used to work contract/freelance and I had a stronger sense of urgency

Feb 9, 18 11:53 am
Yes corporations really just do *not* have the funds to pay production staff's benefits much less for their software...this is a *good* thing...(sarcasm for the thick)

Only a matter of time before it's all replaced with robots anyway. I'd recommend to hold on for deal life to any place willing to dole out benefits to draftsman. Until ubi and universal healthcare become reality you ought to pray you never get sick or in some sort of accident as a contractor.

Eventually from the bottom up, the chain of production will be eliminated til the only ones left are vps / execs / principals. Architecture and every other profession. But keep telling yourself / believing the ones holding the money that this is a 'benefit' to you as the (not quite) employee.

Don't know how you ever plan to get licensed or actually learn anything hopping from project to project and firm to firm. Sounds like a one way ticket to dead end career draftsman.
Feb 9, 18 12:22 pm

Archinine, I am not just a "draftsman" I spent several years in the construction industry working as a carpenter. I have actually designed high end homes and framed them as well. I also have a pretty strong construction management background. My future plan is to start a small design/build business.



 Sounds like a one way ticket to dead end career draftsman.

After the recession, it took 5 years of contract/freelance before I landed a direct job that I still have- now I have a shot(long shot) at getting licensed whereas before, no way, not after 12 short term gigs - there is no career progression

Feb 9, 18 12:30 pm

I think some people are getting at his original question without really answering it.  It seems obvious that the OP doesn't do much more than residential, and in that area, there is a lot of contract work, and to my knowledge, always has been.  For larger commercial jobs, I have not heard of any typical firm contracting out the bread and butter of architectural staffing work, though aspects of the design process do get funneled off by building component.  Has anyone worked on a project with the all of the following: LEED consultant, paint consultant, waterproofing consultant, elevator consultant, roof consultant, low-voltage/security/VOIP consultant, kitchen consultant, MEP, structural, and civil engineers, as well as owner reps and govt entities responsible for back checking multiple CD sets before bid?  I haven't yet had a confluence of the above on one project, but I'm awaiting the day when not a single detail on the CD set is supposed to be my or my firm's responsibility.  

Feb 9, 18 12:45 pm

"most jobs going to freelance"  never going to happen.  In some industries the product is very standardized, but architecture is not one of those industries.  There is a place for temp/contract providers in every industry.  Architecture requires specialized knowledge and long term relationships. 

Not an issue if you're doing SFR.

FYI, contract work should cost MORE than a traditional employee.  As a contractor you are exchanging steady pay and benefits for higher pay and no consistency. 

If you do accept lower pay and irregular payments, fanastic for the employer but I don't see how it is good for the "employee."

Feb 9, 18 12:47 pm

if an employee is making $20 per hour, the contractor should be making something like $80.

Feb 9, 18 12:49 pm

I've worked both as freelancer/self-employed without staff and as an architect with a regular contract and I personally prefer the freelance insecurity and variety of jobs over having contracts not renewed in supposedly stable positions. I only hate doing my paperwork and the fact they tax you to death when having multiple freelance jobs. Now I work again with a regular contract but do so many different things and jobs that it feels more varied than most freelance jobs I did. So it depends I guess, that's my experience.

Feb 9, 18 1:04 pm

Agree with shellarchitect. You can (and should) definitely earn more (and have more freedom in many aspects) working as freelance/self-employed. The income is just not consistent, but if you know how to (time) manage your projects and finances well, it can become steady. Many, if not most, take the freelance route to starting their own practice eventually, especially when the commissions start coming in. I did that a few years back but realizing I'm better off being a one-man office for now, and then outsourcing the stuff I needed was, I returned to a more solo/private setting rather than the typical office/firm setting. Sometimes I miss being in a company because of the steadiness/stability and a bit of the discipline you can only get in a corporate office, but as a freelancer I'm also grateful for the opportunity to get to design my own work and be critical of it and having more control of my schedule (yay travel!).

Feb 10, 18 12:24 am

Also, you take account of everything when you're working freelance, especially if you're leading a project.


What’s the difference between contract employees and sole proprietors?  A contract employee has a boss, a sole proprietor has a client.  A contract employee asks for a raise, a sole proprietor raises his fees.  Overall, the semantics either weigh for or against you.  Start an LLC or a PLLC, and be a business.  Calling ones self a freelancer or contract employee has certain connotations that put you on the shit end of the stick from the start. Starting an LLC or PLLC costs about 100$ and takes about 15 mins to file paper work.  I have contractor clients that send me consistent work, but they are my client, not my contract employee.  Geez, they are demanding enough without giving them the benefit of that superiority title over me.  

Feb 10, 18 10:38 am

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