About rand soellner

Home Architects design custom residences across the USA: small, medium, large and gigantic, all based on what our clients want. We work hard every day, with people just like you, to merge your desired lifestyle and land. If you want a lakeside cottage, a sprawling mountain castle or a suburban compact home, we can do it.

Motivation for an Architect

Motivation is an important part of any Architect’s psyche.  We all have daunting tasks before us, especially after we get the job (obtain a new project).

When the euphoria of business success wanes, we then are faced with the task of actually programming, designing, developing and detailing the project.

This can seem overwhelming.  However:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
—-by the Chinese philosopher Lao (c 604 bc – c 531 bc) in the Tao Te Ching, Chap. 64.

Which of course means: that even the longest and most difficult of tasks has a simple and humble starting point.  For Architects, that may be turning on your computer, booting up your CAD or 3D software and setting up the the computerized files and blanks sheets for the project, then making an appointment with the Client to take Programming notes and see their land.  Then, one things leads to another.

When we, as Architects, find ourselves in Construction Drawings and are faced with creating all the detail necessary to properly explain and specify the project to Contractors, my technique has always been to at least do one thing; anything, that advances the project forward, before leaving my chair.  Draw one line.  Install one dimension, copy one detail.  Edit a paragraph of specifications.  Anything that gets the project further along than when you sat down to work on it.  You will find that your natural ability and curiosity will take that one thing and it will lead you to other details, specifications and dimensions. You will end up doing much more than the single thing you were thinking of.  And when you finally leave your work station, you will have accomplished more than you anticipated.

And then you will have moments of sheer inspiration that bless your work, during which hours can pass and you are so engrossed with designing or developing the work that you will see the sun going down and think: “Hey, I just sat down this morning, how did it get to be so late?”  Your motivation will be supplied by your own internal abilities, once you get started.

The main point is: BEGIN.  Each day.  That’s what our Oriental fried was encouraging us to do more than 2,500 years ago.  And your experience, creativity and work ethic will take over and help you advance the project.

Peer Advice & Counsel in ArCH

When you are a member of ArCH, you are able to access experienced peers, who are also Licensed Architects.  About what?  Just about anything you can imagine as an important issue involving the business, marketing, design or documentation of residential architecture.

For instance: this last week, there was a lively series of email discussions about the best software for architectural invoicing and time-keeping.  James Spencer, ArCH, Arlington, VA and Amy Patterson, ArCH, Arden, NC exchanged valuable experience with other members: Bennett Sabatier, ArCH, Lafayette, LA, Rod Kazenske, ArCH, Denver, CO.  Members reviewed various benefits of QuickBooks, BillQuick, QBProContractor, ArCH’s own ArCHbill (under development), Preasto and others.  This benefit alone, makes the low yearly membership fee of ArCH (currently $159/year) an amazing bargain. Where else can you receive such pointed counsel, strictly focused on residential architecture?

Join ArCH here.  Enjoy peer counsel.

Backups Save the Day

Important advice here: backup all the work you do during a day, at the end of that day (at the very least).  And require that any staff you may have do the same.

Why: because the amount of work you can lose when you are working on AutoCad or Revit or SoftPlan or ArchiCad can be enormous.  If you have ever had a file become corrupt or a hard drive go bad while you’re working on a project (haven’t we all?) you’ll understand the subject of this online article.  The sinking feeling is devastating: the sense of loss is immeasurable.

How to do this: suggest that you have multiple backup locations:
1.  Your main hard drive, of course.  Save your file by naming/numbering it slightly differently every 10 minutes to 30 minutes.  For instance, you may call your project: 7-17-2016-Smith-156 (for the date, the project name and the iteration of the file.  The SaveAs name in about 15 minutes might be: 7-17-2016-Smith-157.  And the next day: 7-18-2016-Smith-158.  In this manner, you are constantly replacing the current file with a new file.  So: if your current file becomes corrupt, you will have the file immediately preceding it to use.

2.  A flash drive.  You can obtain “thumb drives” or “flash drives” that fit easily in your pocket that can hold 256GB and more, for not much cash, and you can take this with you whenever you leave your office, home or other location. In other words: if your house or office burn down or other disaster occurs, you will have that little flash drive in your pocket with your last 10 year’s worth of projects. What a relief you will feel to have that!

3.  External hard drive.  This is a hard drive that is external to your main computer, about the size of a thick paperback novel.  It can hold as much as your main computer hard drive, perhaps more, depending on how large an external drive you purchase.

Therefore: you should have, at a minimum: your latest files in at least 3 different locations.  If the file you are working on right now goes bad, you have all of those others to fall back on.  The worst case should be you would lose the work you’ve been developing during the present day, if your file goes bad during any given day.  This scenario would happen if your computer’s main hard drive went bad during any normal work day, before you have backed up for the evening.  If you want to become even more obsessive, you can perform your end of day backup at noon as well.

If you adhere to the above, and have your staff do the same, your catastrophic losses due to crashed hard drives should be minimized.  This policy has been in effect with the Home Architects for the last decade, and the most lost has been a single day’s work in that time.

Now then, if you want to get really concerned and have the financial capability, you might want to also consider obtaining a backup server and/or backup computer for your main computer(s) that you and your critical staff use.  Treat the secondary machines like additional drives on your main machine.  In that way, if your main computer(s) crash, you should hopefully have the backup computer(s) still functional.

One last thing: if you don’t use a sine-wave UPS (Uninterruptible Power System) device for  your main computer(s), you are playing with fire.  A quality UPS for each important computer in your office will save you not only lost time rebooting when there are power failures, you just might save your computers themselves from frying in the event of severe storms in your vicinity.  However, if you enjoy replacing damaged computers frequently, you may ignore this advice.

Happy computing!

ArCHspec update re: Hot Water Heaters

Hello ArCHmembers who are proud licensees of ArCHspec™.  ArCHspec™ has had both a conventional HWH (Hot Water Heater) specification and a multiple tankless HWH specification in Division 15p.  The multiple tankless spec is section 15400-1212.  The conventional HWH (but high efficiency) is 15400-1300.  It is recommended that the 15400-1212 multiple tankless HWH (either gas or electric) NOT be used.  Instead, it is suggested that the 15400-1300 high efficiency conventional electric HWH be used.

Why: the multiple tankless HWHs could result in your project needing many more amps and possibly even a higher MDP (Main Distribution Panel) and larger main disconnect and larger cables feeding the project.  These increases in electrical power infrastructure are sure to offset any energy performance enhancements.

Therefore, it is suggested that the conventional HWH (but high-efficiency) henceforth be specified, rather than the multiple tankless approach.

2nd Qtr Taxes Due 6-15

Hello ArCHmembers: just a reminder to all those of you earning an income (which is hopefully all of you): 2nd quarter 2016 tax estimate payments are due 6-15-2016 Wednesday.

If you haven’t yet calculated your estimated total income projects for the year, then estimated your taxes for the year, then subtracted your 1st quarter payment, then divided the remainder by 3, ask your Accountant, or at the very least, take your best informed guess and take care of that before the deadline.  Your envelopes to State and Federal governments must typically have the US Postage stamp on them indicating that they were put in the mail by 6-15.  Verify with your financial counsel.

Have a healthy, happy and productive 2nd half of the year.

ArCH Membership Recruiting

ArCH Membership Recruiting: every ArCHmember is hereby asked to bring at least one new ArCHmember into the organization each year.  If everyone could do this, the organization would double every year.  That would be an excellent growth rate.

ArCHexComm member, Craig Isaac, ArCH, Charlotte, made this excellent suggestion.

So: please: each and every ArCHmember is asked to invite other Licensed Architects that you know, to join this professional organization.  Email them this link:

That link explains the benefits of being a member of ArCH.  Thank you!

Managing Client Expectations

Managing Client Expectations is what this post is about.  Your ArCHexComm (Executive Committee) identified as the “next thing to tackle” during this last Wednesday’s global ArCHexComm Skype meeting.

Specifically, your ExComm identified the following disconnects:
Managing Client Expectations for:
1.  Architect’s FEES.
2.  Architect’s TIME.

Thorny issues for any Architect to handle, particularly with all the variables on every project: Client changes, various Contractors either promising or bidding different prices along with unrealistic Client budget goals, Client review times and your time to complete complex projects.

Well, your ArCHexComm has solved the issue of Managing Client Expectations.  How is this possible?  And how to document that the Client actual understands and agrees to these expectation scenarios?  Sounds difficult to achieve.

Actual it’s not.  What?  How could this become simple?  Doesn’t seem realistic.

Here’s how:  your ExComm has added a new paragraph #285 EXPECTATIONS to the ArCH AOA (Architect-Owner Agreement).  In other words your Client, once they sign this updated AOA form of agreement with you HAS agreed that they DO understand what their expectations for these aspects will be.  It seemed like the most expedient method to handle this Client Expectations issue.  And it does.  How?

This new version of the ArCH AOA (with paragraph 285) specifically is entitled:
285. EXPECTATIONS: Expectation for our fees, time and your construction costs.

Under architectural fees, there is a blank where Architects can insert a link to whatever 3rd party website they might wish to link, indicating typical Architectural fees for homes of various sizes, and for renovations., and for additional services.  Each Architect can reference whatever website they wish.  It is recommend that a 3rd party website be linked as a disinterested 3rd party source of public information.  For time, you may insert whatever you wish, with the basic text declaring it will probably be several months.  For construction cost expectations, once again, any Architect can insert whatever 3rd party website reference they wish to help Clients understand the realities of today’s construction costs for nice houses.  In this manner, neither ArCH nor any individual Architect is declaring what estimated fees might be (especially if you are hourly) or construction costs.  Rather: 3rd party references are taking care of that expectation for you.  Seems simple.  Should have been done long ago.

See the newly updated ArCH AOA here: ArCH AOA.




Death through Apathy

This online post is about what happens when people don’t do their part, or are “too busy” to help make a difference, when all it takes is a little piece of your time and a bit of your assistance.

ArCH needs more Architects to join.  We are now Global, but we have a long way to go.  Simply by the act of joining, ArCH becomes stronger.  Your small membership yearly fee helps ArCH accomplish vital tasks, such as creating new videos that enlighten the public about what you do as an Architect and the value you bring to every project.  ArCH creates one of kind products that help you practice Architecture, creating homes, because there is no other source on Earth that does this.

Support those organizations that help feed you: intellectually and literally.  That would be ArCH.

Thank you for being a member and for guiding other Architects to join and for continuing to be a member.

If you don’t, who will?  Before ArCH, the world was a gray and dim place for residential Architects.  There were no products custom made for residential Architecture.  There was no worldwide brotherhood/ sisterhood of Licensed Architects that design homes.  There was no global comradery of residential Architects.  There was no global ArCHdes™ design awards program just for residential architecture around the world.  Now, all that colorful energy has infused the planet, all because you helped ArCH come about and remain vital.

Help us grow and remain sustainable, with your support.    You can and will make a difference.

Support ArCH.

ArCHchart is now available

ArCHchart™ just was launched.  You can read all about this new ArCHproduct here:


ArCHchart™ is what all Architects have been missing in their Client management applications.  ArCHchart™ allows you to simply, swiftly and easily update the present status of where your firm is at on your Clients’ projects, without cumbersome scheduling software.  Clear colored cartoon diagram bar charts in Excel explain so your Clients’ understand what’s been accomplished to date, where you are now, what’s next and what phases/tasks remain, from Programming all the way through Construction Administration, Warranty Period and Post Warranty periods.

And because this application is in MS Excel, you can easily modify it to suit your practice/process as you wish.

A happy Client is an informed Client.

Have Clients getting upset with you because they don’t understand why you’ve done what you have, what you’re doing now and why you’re soon to be doing other things?  ArCHchart™ charts the course through the project and helps to diagrammatically explain the relative amount of effort/time devoted to each typical architectural project phase.  Don’t talk talk talk about architectural phases.  Let ArCHchart™ do your talking for you.

This application just might save your next project.  Buy it today.  Deeply discounted for ArCHmembers, of course. And now a part of the new ArCHsuite™.