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At the risk of maybe being too personal, has anyone ever hit 6 figures doing home design/plans in a year's time or come close to it? I think it is very well possible if you plan right with projects. Im hoping i wont get ripped for posting such a topic.

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43 minutes ago, ChiefUserBigRob said:

At the risk of maybe being too personal, has anyone ever hit 6 figures doing home design/plans in a year's time or come close to it? I think it is very well possible if you plan right with projects. Im hoping i wont get ripped for posting such a topic.

Absolutely, though I have a very diverse set of services I offer, I'm pretty sure if I just stuck to design/drafting ONLY I would still break it, no problem...I am in California where the dollar is short, but still charge various clients around Canada/US the same rate.

Work on your efficiency and it should be in sight.

Macros help :)

I'm also never off the clock.

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I make well over $100,000/yr doing design work, mostly residential, at $125/hr. 

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Just now, Renerabbitt said:

Absolutely, though I have a very diverse set of services I offer, I'm pretty sure if I just stuck to design/drafting ONLY I would still break it, no problem.

This is good to hear. I would love to go full time with my services and work for myself. Right now its just part time(nights and weekends) and i get many different requests like renderings, full sets of plans, small diy task drawings around the home and such. Ive done house plans for 16 years and its been slow until i marketed better, huge construction growth in my area and building relationships over the past few years. My dream is still possible then. I would think to make it work you have to always set money back for the slower times. Thanks for sharing

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1 minute ago, DRDesign said:

I make well over $100,000/yr doing design work, mostly residential, at $125/hr. 

Wow! I am learning to not cut myself short and charge to low. People still come to me even after i raise my prices. Good job man, that is impressive income. I charge per ft. Ive never looked into charging by the hour.

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1 minute ago, ChiefUserBigRob said:

I would think to make it work you have to always set money back for the slower times.

Diversify. I train in electrical, I'm a consulting GC, I offer product renderings, I offer interior (FF&E) design, media production and photography, logo design, photoshop and sketchup training all on top of rendering, drafting, performance calcs etc.

Go get certified as  LEED builder, get certified as a HERS rater..etc.

I absolutely have elaborate budgeting schemes but they are all automated. I put my spare time toward learning new trades and getting new certifications etc.

If you net enough projects for the month and they only span 3 work weeks, block off the last week for personal development and research/marketing.

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my partner and I made $56K in our first full year of operation

I was full-time - he was part time

 

we had 13 clients and 18 projects and won a historical merit award from NARI

 

my partner started thinking of going full-time but he had a son in college and waited

then 2008 came

 

we were charging $50/hr and had plans to raise it to $75 or $100 after we gained more experience

 

we did switch to collecting a retainer before starting work

and then requesting additional retainer as needed

 

we working mainly doing projects in the metro DC market which included the surrounding counties of MD and VA

but we were also doing projects across the USA and international via the internet

 

I believe within a year or so we could have broken $100K level

 

Lew

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On 1/24/2020 at 3:09 PM, ChiefUserBigRob said:

Wow! I am learning to not cut myself short and charge to low. People still come to me even after i raise my prices. Good job man, that is impressive income. I charge per ft. Ive never looked into charging by the hour.

 

Thank you. Don't sell yourself short. It's a bit of a balancing act. If you charge too much, you won't get business because clients can get the same service cheaper elsewhere, but if you charge too little, clients may feel you're incompetent. 

 

As for how fees are calculated, I realized a few years ago that charging by the square foot makes no sense to me. When I design a house, I must provide the same drawings and details for my construction documents, whether it's a 2,500SQFT house or a 4,900SQFT house. A renovation/addition may require more of my time than a new house of comparable size. I use a spreadsheet with a menu of tasks, to which I assign hours for each task, plus fees for outside services (printing allowance, surveying, civil engineering, structural engineering, landscape architect, etc). I may adjust these based on the "******* tax" factor. The spreadsheet determines my lump sum fee based on my hourly rate. 

 

By tracking my time, I can compare it to my spreadsheet and determine if I'm charging correctly for each type of job, if I'm using my time as efficiently as I planned, etc. Sometimes I incorrectly estimate my hours, but I'd have no way of knowing without measurable data. 

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drdesign, my thinking has always been people may think i'm ripping them off and taking longer than usual if i go by the hour. i'm fairly quick but when dealing with people who know nothing about design can be an issue.

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1 hour ago, DRDesign said:

 but if you charge too little, clients may feel you're incompetent.

 

you are the second person who has said this. my neighbor knows what i do and he owns a restaurant. he too learned that going cheap on his menu doesn't bring more business, people see an inferior product and expect superior work with higher prices.

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I took my business full time about 3 years ago when I had a few big projects lined up with a few repeat customers. You have to bring the boat close enough to the dock so when you make the leap you don't get wet.

 

Last year I made well over $100k (actually closer to $200k) and it's just me other than a couple times I hired help. But I'm always working. I will tell you that when you are self employed, you have 2 options: either be swamped with work or don't have enough. Having "just enough work" for a 40-hr work week is dangerously close to having none at any moment.

 

Anyways, I always prefer flat-rate over hourly when it's a project with a set scope of work. It becomes a win-win for both parties. I also switched to a retainer to put an end to the customers that vanish for weeks at the end of a project. They would get offended when I would bug them to pay my overdue invoice. It's amazing how relieving it is when I get paid up front, and it saves the relationship from going south.

 

My rates are below average, but I've raised and lowered them as my demand changed. Lower rates helps you secure more work, but the problem with low rates is when you get super busy you can't afford to hire help. If your rates are too high, you will price yourself out of a few projects.

 

Idk about the demand for work in your area, anyone else's area, but for me it has drastically reduced in the last few months. All of my customers (builders and architects) have been really slow, so it's been slow for me. I do residential and commercial locally and throughout the US, and both have been slow for me. I've been using my downtime over the last few months to learn new skills though. So never stop learning!

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2 hours ago, ChiefUserBigRob said:

drdesign, my thinking has always been people may think i'm ripping them off and taking longer than usual if i go by the hour. i'm fairly quick but when dealing with people who know nothing about design can be an issue.

 

I base my fee on an estimate of hours, but my proposal and contract are for a lump sum fee with a defined scope of work and defined list of construction documents. If the project veers outside of the scope, the client will be charged hourly. My contract spells it out. Open-ended hourly agreements tend to scare off clients. 

 

2 hours ago, ChiefUserBigRob said:

 

you are the second person who has said this. my neighbor knows what i do and he owns a restaurant. he too learned that going cheap on his menu doesn't bring more business, people see an inferior product and expect superior work with higher prices.

 

Your neighbor is right! And, really, do you want to be busy because you're known for being cheap? I have found that my fees have weeded out a lot of potential clients that I really didn't want. My happiest clients have typically been those who paid the most. 

 

I aim to close 80% of the clients I give proposals to. If I am around 80%, I know I'm pricing jobs right. At less than 70%, I'm charging too much, and above 90%, I'm not charging enough. 

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Does anyone have a file they could send me to help me understand what others charge for their services? I understand that it is based on experience, type of services, & location. I do mostly renderings/physically based images of remodeling projects with a touch of Photoshop. Any literature is hand fed by my contractor to plug into layouts for permits.

Any input would be appreciated!

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