Next week Architekwiki turns five years old. Part of my stock-taking is to evaluate how well I am fitting into your daily flow. As you go about your day which of these information sources do you rely upon? Check off all that apply. Add others in 'Other'.
Please Take The Poll Below. . .
Additional Services Documentation Made Easy
A project without changes is unheard of. Clients change their minds. Budget problems surface. Contractors happen. A project without Additional Services is pretty rare. No one likes to talk about increases in fees. But which do you prefer? Losing money, but having a content client? Or getting paid fairly even if there is some discomfort involved? The first is not sustainable. The second is easier than you might think.
Here is my solution...
Now that there is a Roadmap for the premium TIME version of MyCorbu, my competitiveness has kicked in and I want to beat the timetable I just set up. After two weeks, progress is looking good.
You can pre-purchase MyCorbu TIME now.
The TIME version of the Comp Time feature has already been launched - it is running now, a month ahead of schedule.
As usual I am late to the party. For a couple of years I have heard about the E-Myth, but didn't think I needed to know about it. Well, I was wrong. Architects (everybody) need to know about this concept because if you are anything like me you will live or have lived it. (Near the end, below, I have some ideas about how individuals can use this concept.)
BTW the first reason that I think Architectural Firms Are Small is here.
I tend to collect pieces of information in Pocket or Evernote for perusal later, so I don't know exactly where I came across the book summary that I bought, downloaded and read about Michael E. Gerber’s 'E-Myth Revisited'.
In a nutshell Michael E. Gerber describes how working IN your firm instead of ON your firm is a recipe for failure. But most importantly he describes what you SHOULD be doing. I know he is right because my firm could have been the poster child for his book.
I subscribe to Enoch Sears' website, Business of Architecture, which you can find here. One of his recent mailings featured this article on Marketing Mistakes. I thought this was very good advice, so I am repeating the article here. If you agree with me, take a look at what more he has to offer. This is link is a good overview of what Business of Architecture is all about.
Did you know that census statistics indicate that most architectural firms are small. I have been wondering about that. Why would that be?
Here’s the 2011 data that I found.
All architectural offices = 21,181 offices
1-4 employees = 14,028 firms
5-9 employees = 3,711 firms
Combined, that’s 17,739 of 21,181 firms - or 83.75%.
How To Get Where You Want To Go
Yes, but No.
I'm not talking about travel. I'm talking about how you achieve goals, objectives and non-physical stuff like that. We have all had the experience of making a plan or setting a goal that proved hard to implement or achieve. Somewhere in the process, often right at the beginning, obstacles appear. Not tasks, but real ’how am I supposed to do that’ obstacles. I am going to show you why that is a good thing and not the ’killer’ that you might suppose it is.
Architects are not known for being realistic about costs. I don't know about you, but my Alma Mater didn't act as though cost was an issue.
About seven years out of school, I got to do my first estimate. I estimated the construction cost of a branch library to within $7,500 of the low bid. When your first attempt is a success, you are going to think you have a 'special' talent.
It turns out it isn't a talent. It is just easy if you follow instructions. But my pride and joy is my drawing-less Pre-Design Quantity Take Off System.
When I first got out of college, twenty years before the internet, I searched and searched for a description of how to do project management. I wanted a how-to. A checklist.
I never did find one...until one day...
I am a bit of a self-help junkie. Lord knows I need it. My first architect-boss informed me that I might make a better monk than an architect. I never listen.
During my self-help bingeing years, I probably consumed two dozen books that tried to tell me how to manage time. Very little of that wisdom stuck. The real help came from the authors who talked more about goals and priorities than time-management. Folks like Steven Covey, and Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach. But once you set goals for yourself, how do you actually get there?
The best system I have found is 'The Three Things'. I don't know where it originates, but at least once a year I read an article that promotes the idea.
As designers we aren't always comfortable on the site, observing what’s going on.
But there are good reasons to do it anyway.
Priorities Are Good
Here is a general rule of thumb for setting priorities when you are working on a project. I find that it is the best way to move a project ahead effectively during the design phases. It is ideal to tackle design issues in this order:
It has been a while since I reviewed the apps that I use the most. My tools have changed a little, too, but just the model number. My phone, however, keeps growing in its percentage of my usage while my Mac is only used once or twice a week. My tools are an iPhone 7 (124GB), an iPad Pro (9.75 x 124GB x Apple Pen), and a 2014 MacBook Pro.
The apps I use have changed and are mostly responsible for my greater dependence on the iPhone.
I don't remember how I heard about Stu Rose, but everything I know about sales is due to his coaching and the technique he calls the Mandeville process. Stu has a consulting firm called Professional Development Resources, Inc. Its website is www.pdrinfo.com. I attended a couple of workshops and brought him to the firm for a day of training. It was worth every penny.
I suspect that your experience is similar to mine. Clients never do their homework. In fact they rarely realize they they have homework.
After they hire you they just wait for you to tell them what they need. As far as budget they remember a friend telling them to count on $60/SF. Timeline? "Six months is how long it took to build my house."
So if your experience is similar to mine, no planning has been done before you were hired to design their project.
I have been using this free graphics tool for three years. Canva is a graphic design program that anyone can use. It is drop-dead easy. Check it out here.
Canva has proven itself to be so helpful that I recently started using the Canva For Work version that has a few bells and whistles I like. $12.95 a month saves me at least an hour a month, but you won't need that. Canva is free and really powerful.
Forget what you think a blog is. This one (that you are looking at) is not what I'm talking about. Your Blog is much different.
Let me explain...
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?"
I think paying by salary, rather than by wages, is nothing more than a convenience.
What’s more, I think it is unfair - to somebody.
The first time I designed a building with two levels, the boss told me to make the floor-to-floor height as tight as possible because that would keep the exteior wall cost as low as possible. I did it.
My main recollection of the construction of that building was the constant phone calls and trips to the site to explain how to run the ducts, conduits, and place the lights so everything would fit. I came to the conclusion that the boss may have been focused on the wrong issue.
Eventually I came to this Rule Of Thumb that I am going to share with you. But I always gave the floor-to-floor height more thought than on that first project.
I once wasted a day trying to lay out a building and parking on a site. It couldn't be done. The building footprint, plus parking, plus zoning setbacks equalled 92% of the area of the site. Tight, but do-able you are thinking; just get creative.
... Did I mention that the shape of the site had an offset that prevented an efficient parking layout? Some layouts came so close to working that I was sure there was a solution. Nope, the math wouldn't give.
If only I had worked the math first, I would have spent most of that day looking at alternatives like partial two-story, or a full two-story building, or simply explaining that we were wasting our time on this site.
I have disappointed myself for years by setting goals. Start with Lent. New Years Resolutions. The bigger the better we are told - BHAGs Big Hairy Ass Goals (A is supposedly for 'Audacious', but we know better.)
Dilbert helped me see the light.
I've jumped the gun.
MyCorbu goes live as of now.
Click 'Explore MyCorbu' on the menu bar.
A fellow architect, Mark R. LePage, has been following my journey with MyCorbu, the free timekeeping app. Mark has a podcast on his website, EntreArchitect. Episode #164 features my interview with Mark that took place on March 22, 2017. Use this link to visit that episode or click the image above.
Usually I am not keen on collecting historical data, especially financial data. But this is a little different because of how the data can give you a glimpse of the future.
That is pretty handy.