How much should a client get for free?

How much should a client get for free?

Postby bitasean » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:48 pm

I've just been told that a job I thought was in the bag has been given to another architect.

The history of the project was thus:

01. Initial meeting with the new clients on site having been introduced by a previous client.

02. Preparation of fee proposal and preliminary design sketches back in the office based on discussion with clients.

03. Meet with clients a second time and discuss fees and proposed schemes, much to their satisfaction.

04. Client asks can they keep the drawings to which I reply that they cannot have them until contracts are signed. This seems to come as no surprise to them...

05. Contracts are issued based on previous discussion and fee proposal.

06. Client calls to say that the job has been given the friend of a sister who went "that extra bit further."

So where did I go wrong? Having spent about 8 hours in total working free of charge on this tiny commission was I expected to also make models and provide the client with drawings for review without charge?

Perhaps this is just a case of a client getting a price to beat down another architect with but I would be interested in any opinions on what is considered an acceptable amount of work to put in before seeing any money.
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby spoilsport » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:27 pm

been there, got the T Shirt :(

I usually give only the 1st consultation free, approx.. 1-1.5hrs max to get design brief, and discuss the design, a few quick pencil sketchs, and the fees. I will only visit the site if it is within 3-5 miles radius, otherwise they will come into the office. If you get the townland name, or street name, prior to any meeting, you can do a quick desk study research, using the planning office websites, OSI maps, or GSI map, web sites of previous applications nearby, and get a fair picture of there is any onerous planning issues raised in the past, along with other designs which was acceptable or refused, possible soil conditions, contours and nearby waterways, and orientation of the site etc.. this would take 1/2 hr tops.

After that I let the hare site, until contracts are signed. Ive found the more you do for the potential clients at inception phase, the less they appreciate what you are doing. You just have to be more hard necked about it, especially if it comes as a referral from a past client, it sometimes throws you off guard. Theres little you can do to stop tyre kickers, shit talkers, bar than what ive said above. Put it down to experience, and learn from it. I know I have! a bit less enthusiasm at the earlier stages, and a bit more hard nosed business like attitude.

One does not want to be too offish with a potential client, but there are ways to dig out of them if they are serious or not, or just wanting to get a price, to bounce off another office, and if your gut tells youn its the latter, give them the price, and copy of fee contract, make your excuses, and move them on asap. If you asked a taxi driver to drive you about for 8 hrs, he would expect to be paid!! but spend 8 hrs faffing about humouring clients, having / travelling to meetings, site visits and carrying out sketches whom have clearly indicated they are going with your firm, and then blow you out on the last furlong ! tough love pal, is thier attitude. such is life..


regards

spoilsport (not the other spoil_sport sic)
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby Tayto » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:16 pm

bitasean wrote:.................................

02. Preparation of fee proposal and preliminary design sketches back in the office based on discussion with clients.

03. Meet with clients a second time and discuss fees and proposed schemes, much to their satisfaction.

04. Client asks can they keep the drawings to which I reply that they cannot have them until contracts are signed. This seems to come as no surprise to them.............


Well I don't think you should have produced any documents at all before agreeing a fee and the scope of work.
For a small job like you describe, you could have given an approximate figure for production of documents for each work stage at the initial meeting, then revised/confirmed the fee & work stages in an email and then awaited the response.
Perhaps waving sketches of their house in front of the potential clients and refusing to let them keep them and examine the concepts might have put them off. Particularly since they hadn't asked you to do the work at all, let alone for free.
In any case they may well have been bartering with a few architects, seeing who'd jump highest and do the job for half nothing. Which is all the more reason for not producing a drawing until the appointment is made.
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby bitasean » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:37 am

Gee thanks, but I can read the Good Practice guide myself.

I'm more interested in actual experiences rather than theory though, since most everyone I know does work for free, I'm just interested in whether there's a consensus on how far this should go.
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby Tayto » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:08 am

bitasean wrote:Gee thanks, but I can read the Good Practice guide myself.

I'm more interested in actual experiences rather than theory though, since most everyone I know does work for free, I'm just interested in whether there's a consensus on how far this should go.


Well Gee, I guess as far as the point where you start getting sarcastic and smart-arsed. At which stage you will naturally have lost the job.
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby wearnicehats » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:00 am

bitasean wrote:I've just been told that a job I thought was in the bag has been given to another architect.

The history of the project was thus:

01. Initial meeting with the new clients on site having been introduced by a previous client.

02. Preparation of fee proposal and preliminary design sketches back in the office based on discussion with clients.

03. Meet with clients a second time and discuss fees and proposed schemes, much to their satisfaction.

04. Client asks can they keep the drawings to which I reply that they cannot have them until contracts are signed. This seems to come as no surprise to them...

05. Contracts are issued based on previous discussion and fee proposal.

06. Client calls to say that the job has been given the friend of a sister who went "that extra bit further."

So where did I go wrong? Having spent about 8 hours in total working free of charge on this tiny commission was I expected to also make models and provide the client with drawings for review without charge?

Perhaps this is just a case of a client getting a price to beat down another architect with but I would be interested in any opinions on what is considered an acceptable amount of work to put in before seeing any money.



01. Initial meeting with the new clients on site having been introduced by a previous client. Discuss the project - their hopes etc. Discuss the basic service you provide etc. As part of this discuss hourly rates for agreement of brief and any drawings they wish you to do. Agree those rates. if not agreed in principle then do nothing until agreed. If agreed, move on to:

02: Draft and issue letter of appointment incl previously agreed rates, long term fee proposal for approval. if not agreed in writing then do nothing until agreed. If agreed, move on to:

03. Agree brief. Preparation of preliminary design sketches back in the office based on discussion with clients.

04. Meet with clients a second time and discuss preliminary design sketches.

05. Client asks can they keep the drawings to which I reply "of course - I will drop over a set to you this afternoon - take all the time you want to review and come back". Drop these over (including issue sheet and file copy for yourself)

06. Client calls to say that the job has been given the friend of a sister who went "that extra bit further." You reply "that's a shame - it's been a pleasure working with you - I will be sending you an invoice over the next few days as per our agreement

07. Keep a close eye on the planning register and look at any proposal from the sister with regard to copyright

I'm afraid you're in the "once bitten - act like any other professional service provider would". Nothing for free. ever. I say it time and time again - Letter of appointment first, work later
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby Tayto » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:08 pm

bitasean wrote:
06. Client calls to say that the job has been given the friend of a sister who went "that extra bit further."


No sniggering at the back there please.:D
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby bitasean » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:57 pm

I agree, the hourly fee at the start is the way to go but there's still plenty of scope in getting ripped off even if you have agreed it. Should they choose to contest or ignore your invoice then you're looking at an outlay of about €300 in legal fees before you can win back your sum which might not even amount to that. And in the mean time you've probably spent a few hours getting the solicitors letter sent, attending the district court etc.

Moan, moan, moan why dont they just pay us for being brilliant like they led us to believe in college...
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Re: How much should a client get for free?

Postby Zygnoth » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:36 pm

Do you need a solicitor for this sort of thing? From citizens information:

The aim of the Small Claims Court procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without the need to employ a solicitor. The Small Claims service is provided in your local District Court office.

The procedure can be used to resolve consumer complaints. Certain other types of disputes are also eligible. From 11 January 2010, businesses can make claims against other businesses.

The claim cannot exceed €2,000.

------

I suppose it would depend on what way you'd set up the initial agreement though. I found this website via a blog a while ago:

http://www.capitala.co.uk/

If you look, there's quite a clear outline of fees and how they work them out. If you had a system like this in place, it would probably be easy to convince a small claims court that you had an acknowledgement of the money involved. Copyright would probably be a much trickier approach though.
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