WCPGW: Architects as agents for change – Part 1

An ArchiTeam member has written in lamenting the loss of a client to a drafter, how do we architects compete? This is a question that has been wrestled with for sometime now.


Dear What could possibly go wrong,


After a recent meeting with a potential client they told me that they’re going with a drafter because it’s cheaper and they think it is not worth spending the money on an architect. This is very disheartening because I reckon they’ll get a better result with me that will be worth more when they sell. Maybe I just see it differently, but what is the real market difference?


Dear ArchiTeam member,

This is a very real business issue for us all. Architects have always been at the forefront of seeing things differently, it’s possibly just the way we are wired. Also, our lengthy education in design (problem defining/solving) sets us up to deliver something new and exciting.

We are future dwellers. We didn’t want to be accounts, lawyers or planners, those whose lives are ruled by looking up the answer in a book of rules.  Still, in their own way they can be problem solvers, if you get a good one, yes, even planners. However, as these free spirits that we are it is difficult for us to act as a collective, even when it’s in our own best interests. We tend to fall into the category of ‘herding the cats’.

There is an opportunity for us to come to together and change this and discover the real market difference.

ArchiTeam and the University of Melbourne have joined together to undertake research into the commercial effectiveness of the work of small practice architects.

ArchiTeam is a not for profit co-operative whose purpose is to support our members and raise the profile of architects. To do this effectively we need research into the issues that affect small practice architects – what are the challenges faced, and what is the unique role and importance of small practice in Australia?

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Peter Raisbeck in conjunction with ArchiTeam wants to create a body of research that explores and quantifies the value of small practice architects.

In the first instance the research will involve a descriptive, comparative, quantitative analysis of two data pools. One pool will be based on sale data from architect-designed houses, and the other will contain sale data from non-architect designed houses. The data from each pool will be aggregated, analysed, and compared. Descriptive statistics, as well as correlation and regression analysis, will be employed to compare the two pools.

This is a crowdfunded project and your role in the research is to support the funding and promote it to other architects  –  this will test us all as an agent for change or a do nothing bystander.

Early research results and analysis will be made available to the ArchiTeam board and ArchiTeam members, then released to the broader public. Dr Peter Raisbeck and ArchiTeam will conduct a Continuing Professional Development session presenting the research findings at the conclusion of the project.

The research outcome will either confirm our suspicions or make us change the way we think about ourselves and do business. Either way it is the start of us understanding where we are in the commercial realities of the market as well as being able to undertake a meaningful dialogue with our potential client base to promote architects.

This is one of those points in time where the cause is won or lost, make sure it’s a winner by supporting the crowdfunding initiative – it’s up the each architect to do something.

Peter Finn, architect.
ArchiTeam director.


Disclaimer – ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ is not an advice column, it is only general comment from ArchiTeam who are not aware of your circumstances with any issue that you may have. You cannot rely on these general comments, each member must make their own decisions about any action they should take and seek independent advice of their own if they are unsure.