Just add water: architecture startups!


Makin’ into 3D
February 28, 2014, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Startup

Whether you’re imagining the forms in digital or model, it’s all definitely an artform.

Here are some firms and people who are making it into 3d in such an awesome way:

http://marchmade.com/

DBOX

http://www.kennedyfabrications.com/main_gallery.html

http://www.shapeways.com/

http://www.nrinet.com/3d-printing



Consultants: how to get to work with people who give a sh*t at a smaller scale
February 27, 2014, 8:05 pm
Filed under: Startup

One of the biggest adjustments (from working on projects at your former office to ones of your own) is the scale of projects.  This reverberates in all aspects and unfortunately it still takes the same amount of time to do all those details and coordination!  One of the hardest aspects of this is working with consultants who give a shit.  Even though you’re no longer working on that $25 million dollar theatre project, you (hopefully) still care about the work you’re doing (even if the budget’s decimal place is shifted a few zeros over!)  I’m having difficulties getting the attention from my MEP engineers who breeze through the project without any concerns of how those details will work out.  Or boiler plate notes that have absolutely no bearing on the scope of work and actually start to raise flags due to the confusing scope.  Not to be a stickler, but when I’m redlining their set is probably a sign you’re working with the wrong people…

The other issue of bringing on consultants as a small business is it’ll directly impact your cash flow.  I had this problem at my previous (a well established) office too, so I guess it’s not totally foreign.  Consultants tend not to be concerned/sympathetic when the client hasn’t paid you promptly.  They (rightfully) want to be paid on time, regardless of whether you’ve been paid.  So the other solution is to have the contract written out to the client, so the payment is sent directly to the client and you’re not held at ransom.  While that helps with the cashflow issue, its a little disconcerting to have YOUR consultant not working under you (legally speaking).  The question I’ve always wondered about this structure is if there is an error or omission in their drawings, are you held responsible (as you would normally?)   Anyone know how this works??  (just realized the title was a “how-to” but really it’s a question I’m posing to you.)



Big picture
February 21, 2014, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Startup

Interesting interview in today’s newspaper with the new chief of Microsoft- finding it pretty relevant to this startup. Image



HVD
February 14, 2014, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Startup

Happy Valentines days – Hope you’re not charretting and if you are, enjoy this moment of distraction:

http://www.coffeewithanarchitect.com/2014/02/13/architect-valentines-2014/



PUNCHlist: often makes you want to punch something
February 13, 2014, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Startup

Punchlists can go on for (what seems like) for e v e r… especially when you’re dealing with high-end residential clients. While many clients can be totally reasonable, appreciative, intelligent well intentioned human beings – the home is the zone where the crazy man comes out…and all the neurosis come out in full force.

My favorite part is writing up the crazy demands into an actual list. The task becomes “how-do-I-make-this-insane-request-NOT-sound-as-bonkers-as-it-is”  Some might liken it to poetry…y’know, just short of pulitzer prize winning.  Others might just take a comedic approach.  It’s all a creative endeavor.

I’ve compared some of my crazy punchlist with other colleagues, and compiling some good ones:

  • CLIENT COMMENT: “When I poop, the poop slides around the toilet bowl edges and leaves marks”
  • ARCHITECT THOUGHT: “WTF why are you telling me about your skids in the bowl? dude. TMI”
  • ARCHITECT TRANSLATION: “Contractor to replace toilet”
  • CLIENT COMMENT: “OH. I didn’t realize the closet doors in this bedroom looks a little wider than the closet doors in the other one. I can imagine my kids getting really upset that one kid’s bedroom doors are bigger than the others”
  • ARCHITECT THOUGHT: uh, you don’t have any kids. and if you’re gonna have them, don’t raise them to obsess over 2″ difference.
  • ARCHITECT TRANSLATION: Contractor to shave doors down 2″ in bedroom 02, replace door jamb to fit. Doors 02 to match door 01 width.
  • CLIENT COMMENT: “The column just doesn’t quite have the same finish as what I want. I want it to look like the back of an ipad”
  • ARCHITECT THOUGHT: Go buy yourself another ipad, and stare at it instead of the column. Get over it.
  • ARCHITECT TRANSLATION: Contractor to refinish column cover; control sample: IPAD backcover
  • CLIENT COMMENT: “So I took a shower in the bathroom and realized the shower head only swivels about 23deg.  It doesn’t hit the back of my head right.”
  • ARCHITECT THOUGHT: so, turn your head.
  • ARCHITECT TRANSLATION: Contractor to replace showerhead.

I’m sure you guys have seen some and heard some good ones.  Let’s hear ’em!!  Poetry slam contest!



Uncle Sam vs. the Will to Retire
February 8, 2014, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Startup

In a moment of procrastination (I dwell in this place often), I started looking up retirement plans.  Ok, I admit it — I actually started looking up awesome places to visit while in retirement…and then that led to trying to figure out how make enough $$$ so I can retire in those places!!!  anyways — however I got to this subject is irrelevant, ‘cos now we’re here….let’s talk about that beautiful period where we’re not working, called     r e t i r e m e n t.

At my old office, we had a 401K. While it was poorly managed, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t earn a single penny in interest in 8 years, it was good that I was at the very least, setting aside money for retirement.  We had the option between a roth 401k and a 401k, which had to do with when you would be taxed (pretax or taxed upon withdrawl).  In addition to that, I was trying to always set aside the max allowance for my roth IRA each year.  The annual contribution each year is around $5500, so its not a huge amount (ie: you can’t really live off this when you retire, but it’s good to try and set this aside).  http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-IRA-Contribution-Limits The combined efforts were my plan for retirement.  

Now that I’m on my own, it’s only been that meagre roth IRA and I’m trying to figure out what else can I do that makes sense from a tax perspective as well as a long term retirement plan. 

I came across these articles that give you the skinny on setting up your retirement options for the self-employed:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryhannon/2011/04/01/the-best-retirement-plans-for-the-self-employed/2/

http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/retirement-planning/10-retirement-planning-tips-self-employed.htm#page=4

What are you guys doing to save for that vacation fund called Retirement? How are you managing that with the

cash flow of your new office?  What steps were you taking to set this up?



Websites
February 2, 2014, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Startup

Having a hard time getting motivated in setting up my website —inevitably it becomes a much bigger exercise in branding when you have to answer “who are we” and “what do we do?”  let alone the graphics and storyboarding of it…so instead here’s my current research on webhosts (in case you’ve already answered those basic marketing questions of who, what, where…etc):

DOMAIN NAMES: pick a name for your firm and buy the ‘domain name’ such as: http://www.blahblahblah.com. Easily purchasable on websites like:  Godaddy.com or as part of a webhost packages

WEBHOSTS: there’s a ton of different webhosting companies depending on your needs: Do you need email with this website?  How many emails do you need? How many pages do you want? Are you putting a ton of images on your site — if so, then you’ll probably want a large capacity storage with the package you buy.  Do you want to design your own website or do you want to simply plug in some images into a basic template already provided?  …and of course, how much $$$ do you want to fork over each month?

Here’s a bunch of options out there:

What webhost are you using?  What were the things that came up when you put your website together?