I am announcing the resurrection of my timekeeping system, MyCorbu. For reasons that I will explain in future posts, MyCorbu proved unsustainable. But …
The Ochre Bookkeeping System For Small-Firm Architects
Benefits And Features
I have written a fair bit about Architectural Fees in the past. I guess I remember what a mystery it was to me at one time. I have covered the basics of Fee Tables here and the complexity of the typical Hybrid Project here. The remaining factor in determining the appropriate fee is Scope of Services.
What are you required to do to complete the project?
If the answer is standard Basic Services, then the issue of Scope of Services is settled. Basic Services is the answer for a lot of smaller public projects.
Something different than Basic Services is more likely the case in private work. Private clients don't fit the cookie cutter of public projects. They need more here and less there. That makes determining the appropriate fee more complicated.
Here's the solution.
There are only three ways to calculate the fee for an architectural project.
FeeCalqs uses method #3 - but improves on the typical use of this method.
Here's How FeeCalqs Works
Whether you have arrived at a fee by a wild guess or a fee schedule you want some kind of corroboration.
One option, if you keep good records, is to compare this project to a similar project. Was the fee adequate on that other one? Usually the two projects are dissimilar in some way.
Another way of checking the 'rightness' of an architectural fee is to evaluate its 'rightness' when viewed as a design budget.
This option involves doing an evaluation. It is fairly easy to 'spread out' the fee over the design phases to see how adequate the fee actually is.
When I published Feecalqs a while back, I failed to place the emphasis on the fact that Feecalqs is four linked electronic spreadsheets. This is important because the effort that it takes to arrive at a realistic fee for any project takes just a few minutes with a digital method of calculating fees. You already know the information that you need to enter, so it takes no time at all.
One of the four spreadsheet that you don't even have to look at is the Fee Tables. There are five tables representing the five Building Groups. These Building Groups arrange the different types of buildings into groups based on the difficulty of designing them. This Building Groups post shows the listing that I assembled from various sources.
Here's what the fee tables look like and how they work...
We have all experienced rooms with poor acoustics, particularly unwanted sound transmission. To avoid poor acoustics you need to design a workable solution and you need to see that your solution is implemented.
Good Architectural Acoustics requires the use of just five simple concepts...
If work load is adequate but you aren’t making a profit, the cause is easy to find.
I got the opportunity to design some school buildings right out of college. They were fairly large projects taking six months to a year for the design phases. There was lots of time to recover from missteps. After a couple of these I got an admin building for a small school district. By comparison this was a three-bedroom house in scale. Before I had a handle on what the project would entail, I started focusing on the entrance and how I wanted that to work. After a day or two, the question came. "What the hell are you doing?" I explained about the importance (to me) of the entrance. "Do you even know if this is going to be 1-story or two? Does it fit the site?"
Most small firm architects are unhappy with their bookkeeping application. This is an evaluation of what is available.
Determining your Billing Overhead Factor [BOF] can be an eye-opening exercise.
I learned this technique from Paige Highfill, an architect, who was teaching other architects how computers can be used in architecture even before CAD came along. When I tried out the calculation, I was shocked to find that we were losing $15 per hour on every hour we billed! I suggest that you avoid that situation.
If you don’t document your time daily, is it timekeeping or something else?
The benefits of this Seven Step Process of Schematic Design