Recommended Posts

I have been drafting and designing for design-build firms for the last 5 years.  I'm used to the client signing a design retainer with a deposit for the design services, and then any time overages being made up for with margins on materials and labor during construction.  I am now striking out on my own to design and draw plans as my own company for other contractors.  I would seriously appreciate any feedback on how you more experienced freelancers structure your rates.  Do you apply an hourly rate to drafting work that is already designed and a flat rate (like a design retainer) to work that you're designing as well?  What else do you typically sell to your clients?  Do they buy materials and cabinets through you, the designer, and leave the contractor to mark up the labor and rough materials?  Any reading material you can recommend on the subject would also be greatly appreciated.

 

Just a young designer/draftsman looking for some advice from the abundance of experience we have here.  Thank you, everyone!

 

-Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always charge by the hour and make sure the client understands that the billing ends when he and his wife say, "This is exactly what we want", then I print to PDF and share files with their Engineer in AutoCAD file format, then I am done. For my training and drafting-design services, I charge $75.00 per hour, others and you may charge more or less, that is up to you and your client base. When I know the project will require more than $500.00 I ask for a retainer and then bill them when that is used up.

 

DJP

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much, David!  That's great feedback.  Do you provide take-offs for bidding/estimating or facilitate any of the permitting?  Do you sell them any of the materials?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a retainer system like David  does

 

Lew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It takes some time to be able to assign a number to a job. I work my fee structure as a time to a maximum. I rarely don't hit my maximum and that is mostly due to a high level of perfectionism. I did end up below my max on a job recently but I am also not great at tracking time unless the job happens in a short period of time. Basically, I am stating a high enough bid based on the scope of work and what I feel I can charge. I am on the high end of hourly rates that I am shooting for and don't mind being turned down on a proposal. I used to get about 90% of the work once I met a client.

 

After a class at a JLC Live show I realized that I was only charging about 25% of what I should be charging.  I left the show and immediately wrote a proposal for twice what I would have the previous week and got the job. On jobs that I have not gotten recently I go with the idea that "we are protected by our rejections".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't want to have to keep track of every minute I spend on a Job, Win some lose some ,so I use the total job method, (PSF). How much varies greatly per your location and skill. I only get a retainer for only for clients I don't already know. Long time clients I just bill at the end of the job. Never not been paid for over 40 years now. I.ve been lucky that way or maybe it's that I'm  6-'7" and scare the heck out of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone!  I had been under the impression that I had to be selling and marking up materials in addition to my plans in order to really make a decent living.  Sounds like I can be comfortable with just the plans as my product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, mlaubacher said:

Thanks everyone!  I had been under the impression that I had to be selling and marking up materials in addition to my plans in order to really make a decent living.  Sounds like I can be comfortable with just the plans as my product.

I earn substantially more on freelance over my typical 9-5. It really comes down to confidence in my own ability and presence, feel(ebb and flow) with your client. I charge by the job, which is where the confidence comes in...it may take me 9 iterations to get it right or maybe just 2, and sometimes I get it on the first try. I enjoy this method as I work through til the client is thrilled and I push myself in the meantime.

People seem to really get into the handshake deal, most of my clients are referred to me. They feel they are a part of the process, that they have a say. The relationship is what matters, if you make your client feel that they are being heard and taken care of then they respect the value that you place on your services. 

 

Something I find to be very important, is being honest about your workflow and time available. Inflate your sense of timing, and then come in slightly under that mark.

 

Granted I have the security of a well-paying 9-5, so I can gamble a bit on my freelance...but that gamble has more than paid off. 

I am upfront and honest about my limits in hours, walking the tight rope of just enough billing info to give to the client.

Typically for a kitchen remodel and small additions I tell them it will cost between $800-1.2K for takeoffs/as-builts, $4-5.5K for arch CD's and design(which credits the as-built fee), and another $800-2.5K for structural if I can perform prescriptive work.

Leave room to charge for additional services in case you are  getting tanked by the agreement.

I put place-markers for cabinets, and let the cab vendor do the finite details and add a couple renderings. If you would like me to design the cabinets and prep an order I will charge. If you would like additional renderings I have to charge for the potential income from my rendering machine being down..etc, etc 

Going over projected cost is all timing though, and hopefully you never need to.

 

I explain that the design process is the fun part, and is inexpensive in retrospect to all of the annotation work and county req's. I manage my CA time log to get a feel for my target revenue.

 

Hope this helped, a different perspective maybe

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Member Statistics

    27855
    Total Members
    6254
    Most Online
    kfilipova
    Newest Member
    kfilipova
    Joined
  • Similar Content

    • By mlaubacher
      Does anyone have a recommendation for a good, affordable (dare I say, free?) PDF editor?  I'm mostly looking for something that will allow printing to larger sheet sizes than normal.  OCR and editing capabilities would also be quite helpful.
       
      Thanks!
      -Matt
    • By ChiefArchitect
      Use this forum to share insights on Building Codes and the techniques you use to employ them in Chief Architect. It will be most helpful if you include the specific code and location of enforcement you are dealing with as you share
       
      We’ll start the conversation with this link to resources like the ICC, IRC, DOE, various Tax Credits, some of the common Associations for our industry.
       
      https://www.chiefarchitect.com/usercenter/links.html
    • By tpiendel
      We are a carefully growing design/build remodeling company in north metro Atlanta area. We are in need of a sales/designer that would be able to meet with clients, figure out their needs, draw it up in Chief Architect, and help pick out the items with the clients and get the project in ready condition to go to our production department. Please contact us if you're interested or know anyone who might be interested. We can be reached at our website: greathouseatlanta.com
    • By HillsideDB
      Hey guys and gal I am trying to plan a possible move to Colorado Springs this Summer and would love to start a drafting/design business when I get there. 
      In a meeting with my current bosses today, they mentioned that only licensed architects are allowed to design and draw houses and plans in Colorado. Is this true?? I found it hard to believe because I just finished some changes to one of our plans for a guy building in Lakewood. I made changes to the plans, then he took them to an engineer and I coordinated with the engineer on structural changes and he would add his sheets into the set at the end. Plans were submitted to city and everything was ok. 
       
      So I'm curious. If I move to Co Springs could I still plan on doing design and drafting work for myself? I didn't really want to have to work for anyone beside this and maybe some general contracting. Can anyone give me some info?  
       
      thanks!
       
      -Tony
    • By Dreamstyle
      ABOUT US: Legacy Design Build Remodeling, an award-wining Phoenix-area home remodeling contractor founded in 1988, has become one of the most respected and longstanding, full-service residential remodeling companies in Arizona.

      SUMMARY:  As a part of the full service remodeling team, this position will assist the sales staff with all drafting and presentation needs and help homeowners with the design and layout of their remodeling project.  The CAD drafter will have a high proficiency with the software program Chief Architect, enabling them to prepare drawings of floor plans with multiple options.  Responsible for creating informative and accurate sets of plans, as well as 3D renderings, using the customer’s actual picked materials.  In addition, this position is to be responsible for site measurements and accurate project as-built plans as these become the basis for the project.
       
      REQUIREMENTS: 
      ·         2 years drafting experience, using Chief Architect, with hands-on construction experience desirable
      ·         5 years high level administrative skills, with permit/HOA processing through local municipality
      ·         High proficiency of Chief Architect (auto cad or 20/20 may substitute)
      ·         Excellent computer proficiency (MS Office – Word, Excel and Outlook); other proprietary software
      ·         Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including ability to effectively communicate with internal and external customers, while able to adapt their own communication style
      ·         Within parameters of instruction, ability to work independently and to carry out assignments to completion, prescribed routines, and standard accepted practices
      ·         Ability to problem solve and be creative, working effectively under pressure; recovers quickly from setbacks,
      ·         Will be focused while able to multitask
      ·         Prior construction industry experience in residential remodeling preferred
      ·         Proficient in mathematics
      ·         Ability to use measuring tools such as tape measure, laser measurer and digital camera, with high attention to detail
      ·         Must have Code knowledge
      ·         Associates degree in drafting desirable, or a combination of experience and education
      ·         Must have driver’s license, with the ability to pass a DMV background check
       
      APPLY:  https://dreamstyleremodeling.applicantpool.com/jobs/62547.html   OR forward your cover letter and resume to dadams@rbafs.com.  For information, call 505-814-1196