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Residential Designers

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I was wondering if there are any residential designers (not licensed architects) out there, and , if so, if anyone can answer a few wquestions.

1. There is some sort of residential designers professional organization?

2. Do you use a form of agreement for services?3. How do you handle liability insurance issues?

4. If your work may require the services of a licensed architect or engineer how do you handle this with the A/E and client?

Thanks for any help available.

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1. http://aibd.org/

2. http://www.uniteddesign.com/ They have lots of prescribed contruction documents and estimating forms in editable Word and Excel formats.

3. Since my design business is still starting up, a date with my insur. agent is still on the to-do list. There is an indemnity clause in one of above-mentioned design contracts that I probably have too much faith in.

4. I tell the client that the spiral princess tower they really, really want will require engineering skills beyond my really cheap fees and cost extra for those calculations. The engineers drawings or calcs are included with the constuction documents. The clients either say OK or stay within the prescribed bounds of the county building departments engineering guidelines.


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I own a design/build firm and am not a licensed architect. But with nearly 25 years building experience, I would share some strong advice in the liability area: become VERY familiar, and stay current with, the applicable building codes. As long as your drawings, especially construction documents, are well within code requirements (always include language to that effect in both your agreement as well as your documents), your liability exposure will be relatively moderate.

Along this same line, I've become pretty conservative about when I employ a qualified engineer. By conservative, I mean that I tend to hire one sooner than later. Both my building and design experience have taught me the value of a good engineering mind. . .and I have little problem "selling" my clients on the additional services when appropriate.

Finally, can I just encourage you to spend a fair amount of time on "your" jobsites picking the brains of the most experienced contractors around. There are sometimes dozens of possible ways to detail various things, but watching how something goes together, and asking/listening to the voice of experience (as long as that experience matches up with current code requirements) will improve the value of your CDs immensly. We even have other construction companies approach us to prepare drawings because they know they'll not only satisfy the local permitting jurisdiction, but they'll also be clear enough for their people to build from. Efficiently. Better drawings together with clever design translate to more referrals and eventually the ability to command a higher rate.

Good luck, and welcome aboard.

[ 03-08-2006, 01:34 AM: Message edited by: Travis ]

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Michael and Travis,

Thank you for you information and great advice. I am a licensed architect who, on occassion, have reviewed and stamped the work of a friend of mine who does nothing but residential work. She is an architectural graduate, has worked in offices with me but has never gone for a licence. I was seeking information for her as I thought there should be a LOT of fully qualified people out there doing just what she is doing. With your help I am encouraging her to join AIBD and get up to snuff business wise. (Now if I could only get her to dump autocad!) Thanks again guys for all your help and suggestions.


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