Friday, February 22, 2008

This Olde House - Architect Hunting Part III

When last I wrote about my home renovation, I was questing for a home architect. A local fellow wanted $6000 for his efforts. A gent from NOLA wanted $4000, but had been dancing with me on committing to the project for months. So, I had posted a project on Guru.com soliciting bids to draft the plans for the add ons to my house. Within a few hours, I had six people offering.

And now for something completely different!

...by Friday, the number of submissions had reached 17, and I was getting bombed with emails and questions and requests. So I closed the doors to new applicants.

...I had offers coming from all across America, coast to coast: AZ, ID, IL. IN, MA, MI, MO, NC, ND, NY, OR, PA, TX, WA.

...the hourly rates quoted ranged from $35/hr up to $110/hour.

...the per/foot rates quoted ranged from $0.50/foot to $6.0/foot.

...the flat rates quoted ranged from $200 (riiiiight) to $2000.

The difference between bids floored me. The variance on the rates was huge. If there's some kind of "standard rate," it wasn't showing up on my radar.

And I thought it was a very interesting to note that many of the submissions appeared to be looking for a quick, easy buck. I think some of them may have been scam artists. Bottom dwellers submitting to every project in the hopes of enticing a payment then vanishing into the ether. For "professionals," some of the emails I received were questionable, at best.

So I had to thin the flock. I wrote each of the applicants that I'd like them to take my suggestions and product a "rough draft" for me. I didn't elaborate any further. I just wanted to see what they would produce.

And that is when things got interesting.

..6 out of the 15 never responded.

...1 responded that he would "do no work for free." (Sorry, Stephen, but I don't drive a car without test driving it!)

...1 who had been VERY communicative and emailed me more than anyone else stopped once I asked for a creative sample of his work.

...2 out of 15 said "I'll get you something soon,," for a week

... and 5 out of 15 (33%) sent rough drafts.

I've posted a picture (above) of part of the best submission. All told, Christopher sent blueprints, 3-D renderings, and a "fly through" of what he envisioned. "For free," I thought it was an incredible effort and extremely professional. So he's going to be rewarded the project. (Oh, even though his price wasn't the lowest, it was still less than half of what I'd been quoted by the local folks.)

I'm also posting a picture of another "rough draft." I'm not sure if this guy was pranking me, or not. I think he drew it up on a cocktail napkin and scanned it at Kinkos. If the drawing had been done in pink crayon, I'd think my 6-year-old had done it.

Anyway, I'm hopefully going to speak with Christopher in the next day or two, make sure we're of the same mind on the project, and award it to him.

And that's my experience using guru.com, thus far. I'm pretty happy with it. And it certainly put me in touch with somebody I'm much happier with than the people that I found in the local Yellow Pages.

Hopefully in the next two weeks, I'll have a finished product to give to my builder. And I'll have it for a fraction of the cost of using a traditional architect.
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