Working with Designers and Architects

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Forum topic by MapleMatt posted 09-29-2015 05:56 PM 1218 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1174 days

09-29-2015 05:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: business getting started architects designers

Hi All, first post, hope it’s the right place!

I currently enjoy woodworking as a hobby but with job uncertainty due to the downturn in the oil markets I am thinking about turning this into a business to ride this out. I’ve done some small restoration jobs for a friend who is going to be working for an interior designer in the near future. She suggested that I get a portfolio of my work together to show my capability to her boss, has anyone used any websites to do this rather than build an entire website from scratch, trying to keep the investment low in case nothing comes of it?

Also any suggestions on how to connect/work with interior designers or architects?

12 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4164 days

#1 posted 09-29-2015 06:04 PM

Don’t do website for my shop, but…........................
Designers and archies have a vainglorious approach to everything they touch. Tried on several occasions to use ‘em, trashed everything they demanded, customers were fine with my thoughts and designs, I was paid. What’s not to like?
I would be very careful about an association with those folks unless ya have a really tight understanding about expectations and finished results. They can pick you to death and bankruptcy.
Wanna know how I REALLY feel?


View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1769 days

#2 posted 09-29-2015 07:16 PM

Working with designers and architects directly is a nightmare. I will no longer do it. What they concoct and design on paper rarely leads to what you can build. When you can’t build an 11’ bench to match a 10’ 10” wall space it’s your fault for not building it right. The designs and blue prints might call for exactly 11’ but when you go and do the install and your build is 2” too long it’s never the designer or architects fault it’s yours.

Now you have a client that’s not happy with your work and will not recommend you.

Others may have great success working directly with them, I will NEVER again work directly with designers or architects. I have done so exactly 14 times, all 14 times have caused me to lose hair. It’s just not worth it to me to do work OVER AND OVER AND OVER to please the so called experts.

When I do larger builds now I take my own measurements and hold myself accountable for the work I put out.


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3340 days

#3 posted 09-29-2015 07:30 PM might be one way for you to go, at least initially.

-- Greg D.

View MapleMatt's profile


3 posts in 1174 days

#4 posted 09-30-2015 01:22 AM

Bill\Paul – my condolences! Yikes that sounds like an unsettling pattern. Thank you for the heads up.

View MinnesotaMarty's profile


127 posts in 1421 days

#5 posted 09-30-2015 01:35 AM

Well, I don’t want to beat up on Architects and Designers. But, like in Contracting there is good and there is bad. Most Designers are not trained in construction, they are trained in design…. big difference. I seem to have more success with Architects and ones that have some construction experience. Some Architectural Schools are more technically orientated than other. Here in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota architects are real design orientated. Whereas, North Dakota State or Iowa State architects are more technically orientated. I know one Architect that has his undergraduate from Iowa State and his Master from the University of Minnesota. He is pretty good. Although, I work with another and she is a University of Minnesota Architect and she “gets it”. Her dad was a contractor so she knows the dance.


-- I can see the cheese heads from here and it is great.

View MapleMatt's profile


3 posts in 1174 days

#6 posted 10-01-2015 03:43 PM

Thanks Greg might be one way for you to go, at least initially.

- GregD

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1418 days

#7 posted 10-01-2015 05:16 PM

Matt, I have worked with interior designers and have found it a worthwhile challenge. The designers I’ve worked with have been able to imagine well but are very impractical, you have to tell them, ok I can build that but how are we going to get it up three flights of stairs and into the that room? They also want everything to be very dramatic, which usually means huge. That being said, you are a builder, of things, and of communication. You need to have a very solid idea of your capabilities and costs, and stand firm when things are getting silly or the demands are outrageous. Paperwork is key, get them to sign off on everything, and prototype whenever you can (sometimes seeing it in person, even in prototype, can make a huge impact on what the customer actually wants, what they say and what they want are rarely the same thing.)

As far as presenting your work, I use a binder filled with drawings and pictures, it’s old school but I get to talk about myself when I meet with them and answer their questions upfront. I also get to shoot down truly terrible ideas right from the get go.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1799 days

#8 posted 10-01-2015 05:24 PM

So in other words… Architect s/designers are like children. You have to tell them what’s real and what’s not real…

I’ll keep that in mind.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3489 days

#9 posted 10-01-2015 06:43 PM

Another thing the others have left out; most designers expect to pay wholesale prices for your work because they expect to make a full mark up off of your price to the customer.

-- John @

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1769 days

#10 posted 10-01-2015 10:17 PM

So in other words… Architect s/designers are like children. You have to tell them what s real and what s not real…

I ll keep that in mind.

- InstantSiv

Treating them like children is a good start but just like children they have the same mentality. Can I, can I can, I, can I. Awwww cmon, I realllllllly want it bad. Can I, can I can, I can I.

But, but, but…. What if we did it this way instead. Please, please, please.

Be prepaired to say no and walk away if/when things get out of hand.


View Daruc's profile


460 posts in 1336 days

#11 posted 10-01-2015 10:26 PM

I have had good luck with both architects and designers.
I think they are good for your business because people that use them can afford to.
You have to be professional and treat them as professionals.
You just have to cover your p’s a q’s and make sure everyone is on the same page.
I believe it’s your job to tell them when something doesn’t work, after all your the builder.
Whenever building off of prints it always says to field verify measurements.
When you can’t, it’s up to you to determine liability if something doesn’t work as planned, and it’s up to you to pass that liability to someone else before it happens. (“contract”)
I’ll work for them all day long…...I know how to cover my butt so that I don’t eat work that I have done.

-- -

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3435 days

#12 posted 10-01-2015 11:05 PM

I am working on a kitchen remodel on a friends house. His fiance is a designer. They understand any change to the original bid will require a change order and cost extra.

Two changes so far!

The good thing is it makes for additional work which means additional income for me. :-)
In fact, she called me this morning to make sure I had the specs for a microwave that will be installed. She is trying to do the right thing. After all, it is her house. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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