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Potential first project on my own

cdimey

I have a potential client and I'm wondering if I should take the job, or refer him to a firm. The project is a home renovation, which would require full engineering as well since they want to do an addition. I do know a couple of engineers and contractors I could reach out to for services and estimates. 

I'm a licensed architect with 7 years experience, 4 years after graduating. I've been licensed for two years, however, I have always worked for a firm and have never actually signed plans. My first job was in a small firm for 6 years, they did a little of everything from residential to commercial and higher education. Now I work for a much larger firm. I do have some experience with residential work from my previous firm. 

I'm just worried I may make a mistake if I take the job. On the other hand, if I don't try I can never go on my own which I eventually want to do. Thoughts? Anyone have any advice for taking your first project on your own? 

 
May 17, 20 4:18 pm
thisisnotmyname

Buy some insurance, get an equitable written contract with the client, and do it.  It sounds like you have access to a team (engineers and contractors) that can get you where you need to go.

May 17, 20 4:52 pm  · 
1  · 
randomised

Take the bull by the horns!

May 17, 20 5:17 pm  · 
2  · 
Wood Guy

Why do you want this project? Will it compromise your current employment? Do you have a mentor who can check your work? 

May 17, 20 5:29 pm  · 
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Go for it. It's residential, so significantly lower stakes than commercial, and a good way to learn. I will tell a story of my first-ever residential side job, take it as a warning:

Kitchen remodel. Client selected a slightly fancy backsplash tile. I figured out how much she would need to purchase to  help her figure out a budget estimate so she could decide whether it was worth the extra X dollars to go for the fancy rather than a cheaper option. She decided to go for it, and then when the contractor asked me how much of the tile he should order I stupidly told him how many SF I had used for the budget figure.

Six weeks later as he was installing he came up short of material. I had not calculated additional for cut tiles where the backsplash met the cabinet. Total rookie mistake. But what I learned was to never, ever tell a contractor how much of something to buy. Show them the drawings and let *them* figure it out - that's their job.

May 17, 20 10:16 pm  · 
10  · 

Be sure to verify that you current employer allows moonlighting. 


Keep in mind that unless you have insurance, a well written contract, and establish an LLC your client can sue not only the firm you currently work for but go after your personal assets if anything goes wrong.  

May 18, 20 11:03 am  · 
2  · 
JawkneeMusic

Take it from me, I know from experience to ALWAYS take the commission.  I was offered two years ago, a renovation which included an addition and an upper floor.  I wanted it so bad I would've jumped off a building for it.  But I was ashamed of my portfolio which just consisted of drawings.  I was in a hotel so I couldn't make plans for the portfolio.  First and possibly only chance blown.

May 18, 20 1:07 pm  · 
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DO NOT listen to this person. They have no experience or education in architecture and have no idea what they are talking about.

May 18, 20 1:36 pm  · 
1  · 
randomised

Please, stop harassing archinectors like this...they obviously have a right to be here and express their thoughts and opinions, however wrong or inaccurate those opinions are to you. You are not a moderator, I hope.

May 18, 20 4:30 pm  · 
2  · 

First off no one has a right to be here. Anyone can share their thoughts and opinions as long as the site owners allow it - that's fine. However when people who have no idea what they are taking about are giving direction to someone that is not only horribly incorrect but could destroy a career I'm going to speak up. Certain posters seem to give this type of direction only to new and inexperienced users who have no idea that they are getting a pure BS response. I call those users out. If you like I will simply say that "______" is wrong and do take their advice. Fair?

May 18, 20 4:40 pm  · 
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randomised

They do have a right to be here, they made the account, signed up etc....just like you and me, and they seem to follow the T.O.S. or would have been deleted. I just find it childish, borderline deplatforming to reply like that, every single time certain people post. Whomever takes direction or advice posted on the internet by some anonymous shitposter maybe deserves their career to be destroyed.

May 18, 20 5:46 pm  · 
1  · 

I disagree. The for-mentioned accounts that give bad advice only do so to people who clearly are inexperienced and don't know otherwise. I personally do not think the new users who came here for advice 'deserve' to have bad things happen to them just because they aren't aware of the BS advice they are getting.. I don't know why these users like JawkneenMusic post such drivel as anyone with experience know's it's laughably incorrect. I suppose these users could think they are correct however I doubt it as users here are constantly telling them they are wrong. It seems to me that users like JawkneenMusic get a kick out of knowingly giving bad advice and are nothing but malicious trolls. To me that is worthy of de-platforming.

May 18, 20 7:14 pm  · 
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randomised

Chad, what's wrong with JawKnee's advice? He says to ALWAYS take the commission. Didn't Louis I. Kahn say the same thing? Others here are also saying to take the commission, yet you only go after JawKnee like a bully in the schoolyard. You have a personal grudge against some posters and discredit everything they post, no matter what. I find that childish and vindictive and counter-productive. But maybe that's just me...

May 19, 20 3:58 am  · 
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Rick - nope. As I've said before - if you have experience in the field regardless of how you got it and you know what you're talking about I'm fine with it.

May 19, 20 9:59 am  · 
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random - Jawknees' advice was to always take the commision

May 19, 20 10:00 am  · 
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Wood Guy

When someone is representing themselves as something other than who they are, it seems fair to call them out on it publicly. In this case, if you read carefully and know JM's history here, they are being truthful--but you have to focus on the phrase, "first and possibly only chance" to understand their perspective. If you don't understand the significance of that phrase, you might put the same gravitas on JM's comment as on one of the more experienced commenters. 

Rick, I am open about not being licensed or even an architect, but don't recall Chad ever challenging me. I have been working as a designer for 15 years and in the design/build industry for 30 years (24 full time) and I try to stay in my lane (not always successfully).  

May 19, 20 10:25 am  · 
1  · 
randomised

Chad, wasn’t that Louis Isidore Kahn’s motto as well to always say yes to a commission? And look what amazing architecture that gave the world...HeadnToes echoing the Brick Whisperer(PBUH)! But it doesn’t matter...your mind is already made up.

May 19, 20 10:50 am  · 
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Wood Guy - you're right, I've never challenged you on anything here, well maybe your choice in music . . . Why - barbecue you clearly are an experienced designer and builder. You are honest about your abilities and have integrity. When users here try to pass themselves off as something they are are not like I call them out on it. Especially when it's dealing with new users who don't know the users who are dishonest.

May 19, 20 10:53 am  · 
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Wood Guy

"Barbecue" LOL--I think you mean "because"? Gotta love autocorrect. I don't recall your comment in the music thread but I listen to some odd stuff so it's not surprising ;-)

May 19, 20 11:59 am  · 
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Oh, I meant barbecue! ::dang autofill, I don't even barbecue::

May 19, 20 12:11 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

Gents... don't me make me violate the TOS and post JM's video where he talks about the chinese building an army of police bats. There needs to be a disclaimer with his posts.

May 19, 20 12:46 pm  · 
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Is this where/when we post the link to Rick's theater disaster dumpster fire thread?

May 19, 20 1:07 pm  · 
1  · 

Back to the topic, JM's post makes no sense anyway. He says he was offered the commission, but turned it down because he was ashamed of his portfolio. What does your portfolio have to do with accepting a commission? You've already gotten past the 'show me your portfolio' stage at that point, no? Not only that, but if you want your portfolio to get better, what better way to do that than by taking on actual work that could be used in bettering your portfolio?

May 19, 20 1:12 pm  · 
1  · 

I now want to know about the music video and theater disaster dumpster fire.

May 19, 20 1:27 pm  · 
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Don't think Rick knows how the ignore user comment works . . .


Also I was rather clear in my first post about reasons why the OP may not want to take the project.  


May 19, 20 1:49 pm  · 
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Chad, I sent you an email.

May 19, 20 1:50 pm  · 
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Wow. EA that was mind numbing and rather sad.

RickB-Astoria "quit expecting me to right eloquently. I am not a damn poet. I don't write to impress people in poetry and fancy writing. I took technical writing in college not poetry"

There is a lot more but that pretty much sums up the thread.  

May 19, 20 2:44 pm  · 
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randomised

Not to anyone in particular, but...Funny or better ironic how people don’t waste any opportunity to call out Trump (and others on the not-left) as the insensitive jerk that the is (and worse) but when it comes to some quite obvious mental health issues or conditions of people posting here and it really doesn’t take a degree in psychiatry to spot them, those same people become the jerks themselves...singling out the easy targets and looking for confrontation. How proud one must be of oneself and one’s license, a bit of empathy for the less eloquent, the less talented or privileged and the struggling never hurt anyone.

May 19, 20 3:06 pm  · 
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randomised - try harder

May 19, 20 4:22 pm  · 
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randomised

Nah, said what I had to say...do with it what you like, or not, what do I care. Cheers!

May 20, 20 4:09 am  · 
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You've said a lot in the past few days. Some of it makes sense, other things make me question your integrity, morals, and authenticity.

May 20, 20 10:09 am  · 
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x-jla

Any profession requires you to take leaps now and then.  



May 18, 20 9:56 pm  · 
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True, however it would be wise for it to be a calculated risk. As the OP is currently employed taking a side gig could open up a bunch of issues with the firm he/ she currently works for.

May 19, 20 10:41 am  · 
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ODMA

Hey cdimey. I'm out of college the same amount of time as you. I had the same opportunity a year ago and turned it down.

You should consider the positives of taking the job on. From my perspective I had a lot going on: I was studying painting part time and developing research proposals for grand funding. I concluded that focusing all of my energy on what I was doing would get me further with the kind of practice that I wanted to pursue in the end. Ask yourself whether taking this job on will get you to where you want to be. Don't look back in a year and regret not having taken the job. 

Also consider working on the project with a friend who is in similar circumstances. The support from someone in similar shoes is comforting. It will also ensure that you have someone with whom you can have meaningful design conversations. It's very easy to get caught up in the realities of building construction and to forget about your design ambitions. Having a partner will allow you to more easily make space for architecture, and to identify where you need to outsource for more expertise.

Prioritise short term discomfort for the development of your personal practice in the long run, you'll be better for it! 

May 19, 20 10:31 am  · 
2  · 
chigurh

Take the job.  You only get one chance to grab the brass ring.  It will be a huge learning experience and you will make mistakes, there is no such thing as a perfect set of drawings that is why you need insurance.  You have to have a tolerance for ambiguity to do this work, every project is different and rewarding in different ways, but you will never find out unless you allow yourself to push beyond your current limits and allow yourself to grow.  

Better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a ox. 


May 19, 20 10:42 am  · 
1  · 

Just make sure your current firm won't fire you for moonlighting . . .

May 19, 20 10:55 am  · 
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chigurh

it might be the best thing that ever happened to you

May 19, 20 11:18 am  · 
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Could be, we don't know the OP's situation though.

May 19, 20 12:10 pm  · 
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whistler

This is such a classic debate.  I started when a potential client came to me and sold me on taking the job. He basically said "look someone is going to do the design, get paid for it and if it's not you it's somewhat may likely do a shittier job so I might as well pay you to do a good job."

The pay was fine, it wasn't a cheap job nor did I get rich but it gave me the best and worst experiences of my early career and set the tone for much more work.

May 19, 20 2:12 pm  · 
3  · 

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