Market in Denver

wurdan freo

Tired of skiing on garbage hills in the midwest. Considering relocating to Denver. Anyone have any insight to the local market for architecture/construction? State of economy there? I'd most likely look for a position in construction management. 

Dec 13, 13 12:06 am

I'm not involved in arch/construction much so I'm not in the loop, but am in Denver. The economy is pretty strong, perhaps the best in the US. Going to be an epic ski season too. Sorry I don't have more to offer. What type of projects are you looking to work on? 

Dec 13, 13 8:18 am

I just left a job in Denver, it paid $17 an hour. Once you factored in living expenses(high), and most of the necessities to live, it doesn't pan out to much. This was an architecture job, so I don't know if construction management would look any better. I was looking for 6 months long and hard for another position, and never found one b/c I am not 'highly' versed in Revit.

If you want a job in Denver it is either take peanut shells and work at a small firm on AutoCAD, or work for the peanut at a large firm, but you better know Revit like the back of your hand.

Dec 13, 13 1:24 pm
Yeah but detwan has such a bad attitude. Just be a normal person and you'll be fine.
Dec 13, 13 1:38 pm

yeap, you'll end up just like every other normal person in architecture... fat, disgruntle, and a pitty of what could have been... nah, I'll take the bad attitude.

Dec 13, 13 4:14 pm
wurdan freo

I actually got a pretty decent offer and partial relocation costs. I'm moving to colorado because I love being outdoors. Which should keep me happy and in shape. 

My concern is relocating the family and then the local economy going to shit. Seems to me oil n gas is fairly strong in CO, which has been one of the major factors for areas of growth during these past 5 years. Hoping that it's not a construction boom that will implode on itself.

Dec 15, 13 12:41 am

Congrats on the offer. I heard recently there is a serious shortage of high end commercial real estate here because of the oil and gas boom as they demand sweet office spaces. Energy is definitely the fuel for the current rush and I think you are right to suspect there is a limit to that. Denver is a boom and bust kind of place and it has happened before. However, healthcare, education, tourism, tech, data, financial and government services are all strong here too as well as being a transportation hub. I live downtown and the value of my house has flown upward. My neighbors houses are all being flipped or scraped. Cost of living is high, the average house price in Denver is $311,000 and healthcare and dental costs higher than the national average especially more than the midwest, but utilities and gas are less and property taxes are low. Traffic is a serious problem and is getting worse, add snow or rain and it can turn a 30 minute drive into 2 hours. But lately it seems every time I go out I see a new microbrewery, there are literally hundreds of them and in general there is an endless supply of things to do. 

Dec 15, 13 5:51 am

You also should look at Salt Lake City, Utah / Park City area too. Good economy and and even closers to the mountains and not as much traffic. Denver is like 1.5-2 hours from skiing and the traffic on 70 gets crazy.

Dec 15, 13 12:53 pm
wurdan freo

I actually had an opportunity in SLC and was totally excited about it for all the reasons you mention. After more research, onerous contracting license requirements and  the mormons scared me away  :(

Dec 16, 13 1:39 am
wurdan freo

Thanks TINT for your input. That's kinda what I've gathered.

Dec 16, 13 1:41 am

just to add to TINT when i was in Denver over summer one of first things i noted was number od construction cranes on skyline. also i think the economy is fairly diverse (at least in larger metro area) for instance see recent by INC. How Boulder Became America's Startup Capital and i know that healthcare is a big part of market - especially UC Denver hospital system. For instance Anschutz Medical Campus is
 pumping billions into the
state economy...

Dec 16, 13 10:39 pm

Any 2017 forecast for Denver: 

The  OP of "Tired of skiing on garbage hills in the midwest. Considering relocating to Denver. Anyone have any insight to the local market for architecture/construction? State of economy there?"

Dec 16, 16 3:57 pm

Denver is absolutely booming right now.  The skyline is littered with cranes and shitty multi-family housing is being slapped up at warp speed to accommodate the 30,000+ people moving here per month.  I work for a large firm and we just purchased a historic building downtown because we anticipate our office to double in size.

As a Denver native, I'm bitter.  It's a beautiful city in a beautiful landscape and people are finally realizing that and moving here in herds.  My favorite spots are now being overtaken by transplants who think they know everything about the city because they've been here for two years... But as an architect, it's a great place to be.  If your not a total idiot, you can probably get multiple competitive offers from decent firms.

But seriously, it really sucks here and please don't move here.  We're full.

Dec 17, 16 12:44 am

The good news is that the people moving here  seem to me to be smart, educated, motivated, kind, and creative and it's an exciting place to live because of it. Remember Denver in the 80's? Ew. I say Welcome, come on out. Denver deserved a renaissance and it's getting it. 

Dec 17, 16 1:27 pm

I've lived in Denver for 3 years and I work for one of those contractors slapping up those apartment building all over the place. I got full paid relocation to move here. Now on top of my full time job I also do freelance design/drafting work. So, yes, things are good here and the should continue to be since so many people are moving here. 

Dec 18, 16 10:46 am
wurdan freo

six months old, but...

When I moved here, there was a 6 day inventory of houses on the mls. Today there is a 6 week inventory. So things have slowed a little, but the general consensus is that a 6 month inventory is a healthy balanced real estate market. The latest census states that 74,000 moved here last year which is a decline from the 100,000 listed for the year before in the article. It will be interesting to see how much the passage of legal weed in california will effect growth in Colorado. 

All that being said. I moved here for quality of life and I think many more are doing the same. Beautiful place. I-70 commute sucks on the weekends, but being able to play in the rocky mountains has been amazing. 

Dec 18, 16 1:08 pm

AIA Colorado has 3 pages of jobs right now. 

Dec 19, 16 10:34 am

Denver has a real buzz around it regarding being a desirable place to live, and companies like to be there for the role that a desirable location can play in recruitment.   Last week, BP announced that it is moving a major division there from Houston.

Dec 19, 16 11:30 am

I was on the design team for that BP building.

Denver is booming and has been rather recession resistant.  Basically, they have a lot of diversified industries.  Tech, Research, Oil, Distribution, Agriculture, Tourism, Banking, Military (Co. Springs), etc.  Basically, the center of the US without competing cities...  

I tend to base "good cities" based on my own internal apocalypse guide; The Cities in the movies the aliens destroy first...  LA, NYC, DC top those... but Denver often makes the cut more often than say Chicago or Seattle.  

Dec 19, 16 6:13 pm

Yeah, but is your pay check rising with the cost of living out there? Back in 2013 I was paying $750 for a flat that was about 400sqft. I can't imagine what it cost now. And the rise of the dirt wookies...what about that? A better idea would be to get that grow bag and leds going before spending your freetime drafting....

Dec 20, 16 5:37 am

DT, I don't know anybody who only makes $17 an hour, especially with a technical degree and professional job. Sorry. Even baby sitters make more unless they are teenagers.

Dec 20, 16 6:30 am

I responded to a job ad a few weeks ago looking for a part-time temporary contract worker for an arch firm and they quoted $50-70 an hour. I felt very qualified and would have accepted the lower end of their pay scale but didn't get it. I responded on the last day the ad was up so I blame myself for being too late.

Dec 20, 16 6:56 am

The poor kids working at RealArchitecture ltd do.

And that is why I left the place.

Im sure there are a number of ppl making less that $20 drafting in Denver

Dec 20, 16 8:42 am

I guess entry level could be $17 an hour. Then you work hard and earn $1-2 raise a year, right?

Dec 20, 16 9:46 am

I guess, if you cant think for yourself. I was 30 at the time with 8 yrs drafting experience (in AutoCAD). I cant & wont wait till Im 40 to make $25 an hour.

Not knowing Revit was a blessing in disguise. It became apparent that all the architecture firms what was drafting work horses. You dont know Revit very well, then your worthless. I got it. And I got the fuck out. I never looked back.

My sole purpose now is to warn others of the ridiculousness of architecture...which I dont see receding any time soon.

Dec 20, 16 10:02 am
wurdan freo

As a contract worker you're responsible for your own overhead. Using the multipliers we've discussed on this site. Billing out at $50-70/hr translates to $25-35/ hr more or less. Not horrible depending on your situation and goals. I've seen a lot of contract work for less.

Dec 20, 16 10:22 am
Non Sequitur

DT, Your experience is no where near typical.

Dec 20, 16 10:22 am

I make $50/hr.  Been licensed for 20 years though.  Could make more, but I'm pricing myself in a range that allows me to do the sorts of things I like and 'float' in the office.  That means I get a ton of exposure to most the projects on the boards and have enough grey hairs to influence the PM's, PA's, and client directions.  And well, this firm does high end stuff that even with my own firm, I couldn't land.

Dec 20, 16 10:40 am

My only concern with Denver and environs, is that so much of the work is greenfield buildings which is a ract to the bottom in fees. 

Our firm specializes in adaptive reuse / infill development. Is there a market for that type of work? Note: Scarry crime areas and lousy census tracts don't bother us. 

Dec 20, 16 10:45 am

dsc, I used to work in a firm that did a lot adaptive reuse and infill. Denver isn't as old as the cities back east but there is still that kind of work being done. We also did plenty of suburban greenfield stuff and I'm pretty sure that paid better.

Mightyaa, that's salaried with bennies too though?

WF, my math is diff than yours. I figure 25-30% more for being a contractor, not 50% more. But one of the firms I do work for says I'm too cheap, they round up for me. My rates at my other job are higher ($75/ hr) but so is the overhead. As long as I'm making money, I value a quality work environment more than more money anyways. 

Dec 20, 16 11:21 am

I was waiting for your little quip NS. Your sociopathic behavior is translatable thur architnect.

 I graduated in 2006 and left the 'occupation' in 2013, those where not nearly typical times. Hence why ppl with 8-12years experience are depleted within the employment pool. My guess is that you are more like 40 and caught the train during the boom of the late 90's and early Oughts.

Dec 20, 16 11:29 am

Yes and no.  There are greenfield projects, but the vast majority of what we do would be more infill type projects.   A good place to get a feel for the building in Denver is here:  Denver itself doesn't really have any open fields anymore, so you're replacing a parking lot, a old warehouse, a factory and it's storage yards, etc.

It really depends on the firm and the region they market.  The metro areas are more the greenfield type projects.

Dec 20, 16 11:45 am
Non Sequitur


I entered in mid 2009... been steady employed ever since with no downtime and yearly raises (Currently up 80% from starting salary) and was licensed before turning 30.  It's worth saying again, your cynical outlook is not typical.

Fine that the work was not your cup of tea, but it's not all skulls and daggers and darkness. You're just like cranky old Balkinator, just repeating the same thing without even a teeny tiny bit of current experience to rely on.

Dec 20, 16 11:48 am

I got a 50% raise when I moved to Denver from the Midwest where I was. I had a little over 3 years experience at the time. I thought I won the lottery.

Dec 20, 16 11:55 am

Well, good for you NS, you magnanimous being you! Everyone walks a different path. Hopefully everyone is making $50-70 in Denver!

Dec 20, 16 12:00 pm

Mightyaa, that's salaried with bennies too though?

Nope.  Insured through my wife, buy my own disability, etc.  Pure contract where I write off anything remotely work related.  I keep my salary low and haven't asked for more; keep in mind though I still generate rental income on the side. My motivation isn't really money and more the work I get to do...  These guys have also been good; paying for office holidays, overtime, bonus's, etc.   They provide lunch every week and do beer shares every month during office time too...

Need job tintt?  I can also get a bounty for recruiting new talent and we don't advertise.... Come in, I'll give you the tour and introduce you around!  I can check and see how'd they feel about a part timer, but I know we're contracting part time with another PM level guy with his own firm.  We do fun stuff... you know our portfolio.  Hell, two of those projects on the homepage link above are ours. 

Dec 20, 16 12:00 pm


Thanks for the link. We will look at it in depth. Let me know of any additional resources that might be helpful. We have been looking at the Denver Post as well as site. 

Might come out for a tour in February.


Dec 20, 16 12:18 pm

dsc, mightyaa gave you link, I can't take credit for that. Let us all know when you are in town if you come in February.

mightyaa, how tempting... I could come in on Thursday. 

Dec 20, 16 12:43 pm

I'm open after 4:00pm or early in the morning until 10 or so... Have Red Rocks Hotel getting stamped and going out (that was in the Denverpost over the weekend).

Hate this time of year with everything going out.   Shoot me an email if you want to come by for a quick tour.

Dec 20, 16 12:58 pm

mightyaa now you've got me combing through the homepage looking for denver projects...

Dec 20, 16 1:00 pm

mightyaa, I'll come in after 4. I'll email you as well. Thanks!

Dec 20, 16 2:18 pm

Tintt thank you for pointing out my mistake mightyaa thank you for the link. Happy holidays and a prosperous 2017 to all.

Dec 20, 16 8:53 pm
simonelectric's comment has been hidden

The good news is that the people moving here  seem to me to be smart, educated, motivated, kind, and creative and it's an exciting place to live because of it. Remember Denver in the 80's? Ew. I say Welcome, come on out. Denver deserved a renaissance and it's getting it. 

Aug 3, 17 5:23 am

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