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Switching to freelance work

emerald0920

Hello everyone, 

I soon will be switched to hourly based from salary based due to personal issues. It sort of opens up opportunities for me to work as a freelance designer/architect in training. I've been wanted to work for myself. I want to know: 

1) How to manage work related liability as freelancer/contractor?

2) What are the most essential software I need to get? I have the whole MS suite, but everything else student license are all expired long time ago.

I am a pretty experienced Revit user but revit cost is scarily high and I wonder how small businesses maintain margin with those cost upfront?

Much appreciated and hope everyone is doing well.


Thank you!

 
Sep 18, 20 2:31 pm
randomised

Perhaps enrolling somewhere  in a cheap college might get you affordable student licenses again...

Sep 18, 20 5:39 pm  · 
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thisisnotmyname

Are you licensed or not?  An architects professional liability insurance will usually cover independent contractors working for them.   At least that's what our agent has told us for our insurance policy.    The idea some architects have that freelance drafters are going have their own PL policies is a little crazy.  If you have a design professional license, the situation will be different.

For software, I suggest using Autodesk's and Adobe's monthly plans at first.  Only buy what you need when you need it.  You need to conserve your cash for times when you might find yourself between gigs. 

Sep 21, 20 5:54 pm  · 
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s2smooth

I recently have been toying with the idea of freelance work. I would recommend looking at a site called upwork. People post jobs that they need architects to do licensed or not. I'm not licensed but I go after jobs that require renderings because that was my main focus when I was employed before covid.

Like you said programs are expensive, so I bought lumion and twinmotion. I use sketchup to complete the designs.

I also solicit small firms with 3-5 people who have limited rendering capabilities in hopes to be a contracted render.

Sep 22, 20 8:43 am  · 
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Jay1122

Lumion and twinmotion? Real pros use Vray/Corona and 3ds max. How much do you sell your lumion stuff. No way you can compete with those developing country renderer.

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Real pros don't tell others what real pros use.

2  · 
Jay1122

LOL,i know you are trying to be sassy but unfortunately it is not the case in visualization. The only real pro visualization is 3ds max with vray/corona before talking about animation and gaming software. And I am referring to works done by firms like brick visual(go to their website and check). Real pro stuff. Lumion does not even support multi layer normal map last time I checked. Not to mention other many advanced multi layer material ability. Only advantage it has is easier to use for beginners. Literally there is not even argument over that. If you are a pro that charges $1000 per image, that is what you will use.

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s2smooth

its all what you are efficient IMO. Most small firms which I target are not looking for HOK and SOM type renders. Obviously the programs you listed are more powerful. The post above though asked about programs that would keep the cost down.

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s2smooth

also I'm not trying to compete with the renders overseas, I just inquire to small firms to see if they need help and 8/10 they do. I charge 30 and hour for a rendering.

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Jay1122

LOL, Vray/corona with 3DS is the king with no dispute. Anyway, my question is how you compete with those developing country guy doing rendering. They use 3ds max and they are just unbeatable with their low wage. Only chance is if the client don't know any developing country rendering studio. I just want to know how you turn profit with rendering freelance.

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Jay1122

Is the hourly rate plan good? Or should charges be made by per image or bundle. I thought about doing rendering freelance until I realized too much time is required in corona/3DS max. Can't seem to be profitable before good skill and large library. Is the client doing annoy infinite change request?

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s2smooth

This is not my replacement income, this is just a way to make an extra 300-400 a month. It strengthens my portfolio too. I personally charge 30 an hour for my services. I also was the main render at my last job, so I took my large library with me. Most of the renderings I have done are architects doing small projects such as home remodels, a bathroom remodel, or kitchen remodel..etc.

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s2smooth

whooops left this off. I don't bundle any services, just straight up 30 a hour.

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Jay1122

I see, so what kind of quality of rendering are we talking about? I am just curious how good is it until you can charge a client $$. Was there ever a client thinks its not good enough quality? I don't do rendering for living. I just do them as hobby. Especially the VR rendering I did is great.

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s2smooth

I think they are professional quality. Again I'm using the same quality of work ethic I did when I was employed. These renderings aren't the finally money shot which every firm outsources and hangs a picture at a construction site. The renderings I produce are for clients to see what their final product can look like while changing elements in the process.

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Jay - I'm not trying to be sassy. You're not a pro in regards to renderings.

1  · 
Jay1122

I want to see your pro work. Do you have your own website portfolio or stuff? Do you do the modeling for the client? I think charge by hour is not that profitable. A rendering bundle may be a better idea if you can do them faster.

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Jay1122

Whatever Chad, there is not even an argument regarding the software in the arch visual industry. If you have to argue, I know you don't do rendering at all. I may not be pro, but I sure used them all and know where the industry is. And the next hot thing i am looking at? Project Lavina. I doubt you even know what that is.

 ·  1
Jay1122

Chad, Here is the rendering I did of my "dream house". I may not be pro, but at least I do the work, and know what I am talking about. Time to design my dream house ver.2, and render it. I just do it as hobby.

The camera is too wide, but it is made mainly for VR. 2D is nothing compare to VR.

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s2smooth

I'm in the process to market myself via website. I've heard of project lavina. It should be a contender when out of beta.

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s2smooth

link will be up for 30 min hopefully you see it in time

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Jay1122

I like how you scribble over it. IDK who will take your rendering and use it other than the original building owner. And I know with rendering, all the effort is in modeling and material set up. The thing with Lumion is that it does not have material randomizer and sophisticated material editor. So large surfaces appear too flat. With 3DS material editor, you can randomize the input material and plug various shades, sheens, wears normal maps and settings to the texture. You can also create multi layer materials with more depth and realism. Make it not so monolithic and flat. Chaosgroup bought corona, so it has all the corona goodies now. So sad. Trust me, once you go to those programs, you never go back. If you do rendering for living, I always recommend those programs.

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Jay1122

Only good thing lumion has is people. Realistic 3D scanned people is way too expensive.

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s2smooth

I only scribbled because multiple people can view the link for now. Again I understand what the pros and cons of each program are. My clients are on a much smaller scale and for 30 a hour with my workflow works well with lumion and twinmotion. If i need to make more sophisticated materials, I make them with a free bump map generator or make it in photoshop. This is just something for me to do while looking for a new job. If no new jobs land at least I can continue doing this and if I make more money, I would eventually buy the better programs. The OP stated he didn't want to pay a lot for programs. I just gave a suggestion as im going through the same process

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Jay - I've posted a few examples of my professional work on this site.


Here is some of my rendering work

Hand sketch

Done in Enscape


Below is a pro from China the firm hired out  . . 


3  · 
SneakyPete

Hold on, lemme grab my ruler, guys.

2  · 
Jay1122

s2smooth, check out the tutorial for that multi layer mat i mentioned. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N22A5aiXqo

Chad, stop lying, that is not pro work. That brick wall is repetitive like fuck. And that tree? wdf is that. I can do better than that. Didn't even bother to use different size and rotate.

 ·  1

SneakyPete wrote: 

"Hold on, lemme grab my ruler, guys"

Make sure it's also in metric . . . 

 · 
SneakyPete

I like the watercolor best.

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s2smooth

I didn't think this would turn into a battle over a program suggestion lol.

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SneakyPete

It's only 3cm long, I think I'll be fine.

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Jay1122

There is no battle. Enscape and Lumion are fine for architects, it is quick and easy. But if you want the highest quality possible program. It is Vray/corona with 3Ds max. I am talking about these levels of work.

https://brickvisual.com/

Last time I used Lumion, it does not even support HDRI. I mean seriously?

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s2smooth

these are amazing but with the type of clients I dealt with in the office, this would be a headache to make changes IMO. the last firm I worked for we had 40 days to produce CD's while the client is making changes to the building design and trying to push them through the zoning board and entitlement meetings. I think the images on brickvisual should be the final rendering once the project is done going through changes. thanks all its been a nice chat! good luck to the original poster of this thread!

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Jay1122

Oh, I did not ask you to change. Just recommend Vray/corona and 3DS. Lumion is enough for most of the work. If you want to pick that up and have some fun it is up to you. Well I do them for fun, so quality is everything to me, not speed.

1  · 

SneakyPete wrote

"I like the watercolor best"

Most clients do.  Also it's art markers and colored pencell on bumwad.  Took about six hours. 

1  · 

Jay1122 wrote

"There is no battle. Enscape and Lumion are fine for architects, it is quick and easy. But if you want the highest quality possible program. It is Vray/corona with 3Ds max. I am talking about these levels of work."


You are correct - to produce high quality photorealistic renderings the programs you listed are used quite a bit.  The thread was about doing architectural work though . . .not just renderings. 

1  · 
Jay1122

The thread? The thread is about a poor guy that gets half laid off trying to make some extra bucks while can't afford the programs or risk. Nothing worth while is there to discuss. If he is doing drafting work for other firm, he has no risk, the firm using his drawing will review it, seal it and bear the liability. If he is getting his own contract work with client, in most cases you need licenses, unless its small residential. And i honestly have not heard of Revit work outsourced to freelance. You need BIM360 for access. I would NEVER NEVER let someone outside the firm touch the revit model, sometimes not even other teams. They could easily mess up your families and schedules if they don't know the program.

 · 

Correct. Nowhere did the OP bring up doing photorealistic renderings as part of his / her freelance work. On a side note I've heard of and seen Revit work being outsourced. It's not difficult if you have modeling and drafting standards to follow.

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gwharton

3DS/Vray is fine for making polished marketing graphics. Not good at all for actual design work. Plus, most small project clients don't need or want the glossy magazine renderings anyway. Like Chad says, a hand-drawn sketch will beat most of that stuff hands down anyway.

 · 
randomised

I’ve seen principals faking their napkin sketches by tracing over 3D BIM models, clients love that shit...

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They love it even more when you can draw right in front of them . . .

1  · 

Jay1122 wrote:

"Chad, stop lying, that is not pro work. That brick wall is repetitive like fuck. And that tree? wdf is that. I can do better than that. Didn't even bother to use different size and rotate."


Not lying.  That from a Chinses firm.  $350 for a rendering.  Once we gave them the info and pointed them in the right direction we'd submit during business and have a proof the next day. I threw it in there to show what clients are willing to pay for when it's a typical project.  

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x-jla

I’ve completely stopped doing renders. A sketch takes way less time and always seems way more appreciated by clients, and it’s a lot more fun to do than use annoying rendering programs, for me.

 · 

I thought you where a landscape designer though . . .

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x-jla

So...you’ve never seen landscape arch drawings or renders?

 · 

Oh I've seen them. Mostly seems to be plan views. Rather easy to do . . .

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x-jla

Not necessarily. We do perspectives all the time...

 · 
SlammingMiruvor

I'd consider Bluebeam necessary. 

If you can't afford $550/year for the AutoCAD/Revit LT Suite you need to rethink your "business" model. 

Sep 22, 20 1:09 pm  · 
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thisisnotmyname

I would be cautious about interoperability issues between a freelancer running LT and the client offices running the full version. Autodesk has baked in several ways to kneecap LT users that want to do bigger/more complex work.

 · 
proto

...

[nevermind]

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thisisnotmyname

Had the misfortune today of having to use LT to open some files originally made using full ACAD. LT is a crash-prone piece of crap.

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Wood Guy

thisisnotmyname, I don't think that's a fair thing to say about Autocad LT. I have somewhere between 15K and 20K hours using it and while there can be issues, I have never found one that was not easily resolved, and I am the opposite of a tech nerd. That said, I don't try to collaborate with architects on other platforms.

1  · 
thisisnotmyname

I totally agree with you. LT runs fine if all of you and all your collaborators are on LT only. The crashing problems are often caused for us by consultant backgrounds made with things like ACAD 3D Civil, etc. or sometimes just a file with lots of hatch and layers originally created in full ACAD.

1  · 
SlammingMiruvor

That's a fair concern. 

I assumed anyone asking online about liability on an internet forum instead of calling an insurance provider directly though isn't working on complex enough projects (or collaborating with others) that would necessitate a full version. 

Not to mention, if you're working on projects that necessitate a full version of Revit then you should have the fees to afford the license. One way to think about it is that it's (about) an additional $1.20/hr on your fee. Anyone balking at that increase should probably cause you to reconsider working with them. 

Sep 22, 20 1:52 pm  · 
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You're assuming full time work and that the base version of Revit will suffice. No BIM 360, no cloud rendering, ect. Also there is the cost of the system needed to run Revit. That $1.20 an hour quickly increases to around $12.50 an hour.

1  · 
SlammingMiruvor

Until OP follows up we're all just making assumptions. I know that I'd personally consider BIM360 a necessity (especially today), but we know nothing about their actual use case and are just spit balling. Depending on their freelancing goals and aspirations even Revit may be overkill and they can get by on AutoCAD LT. Their requirements for collaboration, the type of work they're pursuing, and a budget target all would be needed before making real recommendations.

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Exactly. So why assume that it would only cost the OP $1.20 an hour more?  You have no idea . . .


 · 
thisisnotmyname

So, someone posted higher up in this thread that $1000.00 USD per image is the going rate for a top-quality render from a professional rendering business.  Is that correct?  Would it be an overseas firm or USA based for that rate?

Sep 23, 20 7:23 pm  · 
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That seems a bit low for a photorealistic rendering. I wonder how many hours it takes to create one of the photorealistic renderings vs the stuff Jay1122 is showing us?

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Jay1122

Why do you want to know? You want to sell some or buy some? Price depends on what you render, your skill & reputation. The word professional does not really fully indicate the capability and quality. For a stunning high rise tower urban city rendering you see on magazine, It may cost from $5000-$10,000 per image. A simple kitchen render $300-$500 would do. Also depends on how much you buy, where the firm is located.

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thisisnotmyname

I am a practicing architect and am looking to buy. I have never outsourced rendering work and am curious about the going rates. We have a current job with some interior material textures that are somewhat beyond the capability of the people and software we have have in house.

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Jay1122

I see, Interior is a lot easier than exterior due to less landscape setting. What kind of material texture? Most of materials can be lifted from assets and easily modified if it is 3DS max. I also have a huge library for PBR textures which you can get from visualization resource shops. If it is Lumion though. that program is just quick and dirty, and not much options to modify materials beyond basic bump and texture but it still should be good enough. If you tell me what your specific difficulty is, I probably can help you here before you shell out $$.

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archanonymous

tinmn - I've been at firms where we got renderings for as little as $500/ image. Definitely China at that price. $1000/ image might get you a smaller outfit in US, Europe, or South America. $2500 and up per image will get you a top-quality image from a EU or US firm that will make the building sing.

1  · 
Jay1122

Anyway here is a sneak peek behind the scene of how the 3DSmax Vray professional stuff is made if you or anyone is interested.

Evermotion-Making of evening street tip

Evermotion-Making of Restaurant interior

You need detailed model, really detailed. Chamfered edge curved fabric etc. Look at the wireframe models.

Then you need realistic material, PBR multi maps. UV wrap it correctly around object. Randomizer distribution for non repetitive look. Pros use substance painter, that is way too pro for normal people.

Then lastly, set up proper lights.


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