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jmyers

Gross Earnings Per Year

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Would anyone have an idea what the average designer/drafter (non architect or engineer) using Chief in the Midwest region would earn in gross yearly wages? More specifically, I'm referring to a full time, self employed individual that has been in business a few years. Any estimated range would be great. I know earnings could be all over the board, but I'm just looking for an average. Thanks!

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That depends upon your skill, sensitivity and how much you successfully promote. Those things are all variables from person to person.

 

DJP

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This industry is all about how good you are.  If you are asking "if I bought Chief Architect and offered my services (having never done this before) can I make a living?"...id say keep your day job or go get educated in the industry.

 

If you are really good, then your work product will promote itself and you will have clients search you out.  If you are mediocre then your success will be based upon how well you market yourself.  If your design ability needs improvement then you should look at trying to be a "mechanical" draftsman for an architect/designer.  Typically a draftsman makes an average of $15-30 based on experience.  There are "career draftsman" who are looking primarily to fit that role under the directly of an architect/designer, and id say they max out (average) around $30-35 hr. - and you'd have to be fairly good and fast to get that.

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I usually charge $1.50 / sq ft. 

As for what that translates to at the end of the year... Depends on how many jobs you get and how good your work is. 

 

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For more clarity, I have been in residential construction management for more than 15 years.  Therefore, I do have a very good understanding homebuilding and remodeling.  Over this time, I have had the opportunity to design many homes and remodeling projects that were sent to a draftsman to draw the plans.

 

In no way would I ever think that I could quit my current job at this time, learn Chief very quickly, and then have a very successful business with very high earnings in a very short period of time.

 

I have a very good job at this time that pays very well and has incredible benefits.  However, everyday I get more and more of a desire to draw plans for other builders and individuals.  I am thinking that it would have to be fairly slow process for me to eventually go full time, be successful, and to be able to support my family.

 

My goal would to be very a very educated and skilled user of Chief.  My plan to obtain this would be from practice, watching training videos, attending seminars, reading manuals, receiving one on one training, etc.  I could not afford to just take the plunge without being very skilled and prepared.

 

With that being said, I am seeking to know what kind of yearly gross income potential I could have over time in my Midwestern location.  I am very familiar with those that provide designing/drafting services in my area and the rates that they charge.  I also stay abreast of the amount of permits that are issued monthly in my location.  It is definitely dependent on many variables, but would it be realistic to estimate 40k-60k, 60k-80k, 80k+ if someone is very proficient in the software and has good business acumen.

 

Thanks to all for the comments and advice!

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"but would it be realistic to estimate 40k-60k, 60k-80k, 80k+ if someone is very proficient in the software and has good business acumen."

Yes. Every post said it, it is definitely up to you. You like the comfort of your job now, but if you jump in a design career it will be as comfortable as you make it to be.

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a bit outdated

 

but I started a design business in the DC metro area and within 1 year we were also doing projects

via the internet for a chalet in France, a "mansion" in Colorado, another in TX, a small hotel in AK etc etc

 

2006 was a part-time gig, where I still worked full time as systems analyst/programmer

 

my partner - who had an art degree and some building experience also had a full time job

 

we started taking on clients and by Aug we had enough work that I quit my $90k+ job to go full-time

partly due to health reasons dictating that I control my own hours

 

so 2007 was our first full year in business - me full time - my partner part-time

we had 13 clients and 18 projects and grossed $56K and won a merit award for an historical remodel

 

then in 2008 we lost our major builder client due to his health

the next month the economy and housing market blew up

 

due to my health issues were never did any marketing and found our clients

viat networking at NARI and AIA meetings and via clients finding us on Chieftalk and our website

 

with my continued declining health I moved back home to the Buffalo NY market area

and we dwindled down to very little business

 

I "retired" with disability and my partner kept his full time job (he almost quit in 2008)

 

he continues to handle  a few clients and is making enough to justify keeping Chief upgraded

and get some pocket cash

 

he retires soon and is planning on jumping in full time Chief

 

bottom line - I would say the potential is there

 

with a little better luck I think we could have been clearing $100K easy and probably much more

within 2-3 years of being in business and me having the health to market better

 

we did new homes and mostly remodels

 

we had a 100% success rate in having our permits accepted the first time

 

Lew

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Lew,

Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

I sure appreciate all of the sincere advise. It really helps with future planning!

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You've got to try to be good enough in Design to target the high end where the margins are better to have a chance at higher Hourly rates... Or you become a lower end, paycheck "employee".. Point being you don't want to be in a place where a high volume of commodity work is REQUIRED to pay the bills. Your age and bills become a factor as well..

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  It is definitely dependent on many variables, but would it be realistic to estimate 40k-60k, 60k-80k, 80k+ if someone is very proficient in the software and has good business acumen.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I would say you are in the range.  The midwest is a tougher market, but depending on your skill you might see a starting income of around $40K and perhaps if you're good, it will get to $80K in 4-5 years. Six figures is possible, but the market has to be strong.  Once you reach a point where builders want your plans, and clients are calling you because of what you produce, then target the more qualified jobs and base some of your fees on a fixed price or percentage of construction cost.  It is tough to make it on an hourly basis - even if you charge $60 or more an hour.

  Do all you can to build relationships with local builders.  If they like your plans, they will recommend you to new clients.  

 

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