How to Be a Freelance Architect

freelance architect

As a freelance architect, you will be responsible for the design and to an extent the development of residential, commercial and in some cases structures of civic welfare. Architects are a well-respected bunch and, whether you are a full-time employee, looking to earn a few extra bucks by the side, or you are a self-employed architect, simply trying to get your business up and running, there is money to be earned in freelance work as an architect.

The reasons why you chose to become an architect will differ, no doubt, for some of you it might be the extra income, for others, they wish to work from home might be the reason. You may even consider the independence associated with an architect career as a freelancer; the list continues. Your preferences dictate your main reason for choosing the option. However, you can rest assured that Freelance Architecture is a career that will give you a comfortable life and a low-stress working environment like your home.

Freelance Architect Job Duties

Your duties as a freelance architect, will include being able to work with construction crews and other junior engineers to build residential or commercial structures. You may even design something groundbreaking and even awe-inspiring. To elaborate, let us have an in-depth look at some of the duties that will fall under your purview, as a freelance Architect:

  • Resolving design and development problems
  • Managing budgets and project resources
  • Creating building designs and highly detailed drawings both by hand and by using specialist computer-aided design (CAD) applications
  • Liaising with construction professionals about the feasibility of potential projects
  • Working around constraining factors such as town planning legislation, environmental impact and project budget
  • Working closely with a team of other professionals such as building service engineers, construction managers, Civil Engineers quantity surveyors and architectural technologists
  • Applying for planning permission and advice from governmental new build and legal departments, Lawyers
  • Writing and presenting reports, proposals, applications and contracts
  • Choosing the materials to be used and specifying the requirements for the project
  • Adapting plans according to circumstances and resolving any problems that may arise during construction
  • Making sure the project is running according to schedule and budget
  • Playing a part in project and team management
  • Travelling regularly to building sites, proposed locations and client meetings
  • Scheduling material and equipment purchases and delivery
  • Ensuring projects run smoothly and structures are completed within budget and on time

Working as an architect, you may be required to work away from home for periods. Frequent visits to sites may also be necessary, especially for new graduates. Travel abroad may be possible with a large consultancy company. However, as a freelance architect, you may be working a healthy mix of both site visits as well as virtual engagements with fellow professionals.

While regular visits will be the norm, sometimes you may have to work long days and some weekends close to project deadlines as well. Overnight and weekend stay may be required for site inspections. Site engineers and managers may be on call 24 hours a day.

Architect Skills

To be a good architect, there are some skills that you should consider mastering. (1) You should be able to design, implement, and even test equipment, but the job role will often demand more from you than a simple implementation and design process. You need to develop some skills to do well; some of them include:

  • Mathematical skills
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Scientific Skills
  • Decision Making
  • Operations Research
  • Operations Analysis
  • Coordination
  • Active Learning
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to work remotely
  • Systems Analysis
  • Quality control
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Equipment selection
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Working with all materials
  • Art and Design skills

Architecture is a graduate-level course, often requiring four years of intensive study. E-learning websites will help you develop the skills you will need as an architect; MIT Opencourseware, Boston Architectural College, Academy of Art and Lynda offer many options to learn these skills online, either in a course or self-training video formats.

Being Successful as a Freelance Architect

More often than not, talent is not a single determinant of success in any sphere. It is possibly truer for engineers, with the freelance market insisting that talent combined with the relevant experience attracts generous prospective employers.

Hence, to be successful initially, you could:

  • Offer to do projects for minimum fees, sometimes for free
  • Bid the lowest for a project on freelancer portals
  • Get good testimonials for guest blogs, recommendations for work
  • Start a blog, backlink it to more visible blogs
  • Create a website, or at the very least, a web page
  • Advertise your services on social media platforms
  • Understand the engineering requirement intimately
  • Sharpen your communication skills, as it would help you get more jobs
  • Master Architectural Basics and also build up recommendations and tie-up with construction organizations

Average Remunerations

Most of the revenue generated by you will depend solely on your ability to market your services and your credibility with previous employees.

Usually, freelance portals offer various kinds of payment models. In the fixed-price model, the price is usually pre-determined. The hourly model is the most popular and employers usually pay a predetermined sum per hour. Finally, in the project-budget based model, you often need to auction for such projects. Usually, a fixed price model may range from $20- $200 and upwards, while you have to pitch for hourly projects, and budget payments, which usually range from $5- $35 an hour, with average payments at $22 per hour.

Finding Work

Architecture is one of the core sciences. There is a dearth of websites, forums, blogs, and portals offering jobs. Elance, Odesk, Peopleperhour, and Guru offer many opportunities to Professional architects around the globe.