I started designing buildings in 2008 for artistic hobby of 3D modeling. Starting from 2012, a lot of people contacted me for architecture services. However, I never enjoyed working for people as much I enjoyed designing building models for hobby according my own rules. 9 of 10 people contacting me were not willing to pay, they wants free consultation, free sketch, in some cases even complete set of drawings for free.
However, by 2014 I realized that databases are more profitable so since 2015 I stopped promoting architecture, de-optimized pages to reduce traffic from Google, and disabled chat greeting. I successfully reduced number of people contacting me for architecture services, with about 5 times.
Between 2012 and 2015 I was doing one sketch for free to impress customers then negotiate price for rest of drawings, and since 2015 I try to negotiate prices first and take part of agreed sum in advance, then do any sketch. Still, 9 of 10 people who contact me do not want to pay.
in 2017 I earned so much money from databases and programming projects, that anyone who contact me for architecture projects, no matter how much is paying, is wasting my time. I had to double the prices in architecture, seeing that people, if serious, can pay more, but the non-serious, non-paying people are the main problem, as they represent 90% of total people contacting me. Sometimes I pass the projects to my partner architects, but in most cases I simply tell NO to their projects.
I share on this page several of my GOOD and BAD experiences in architecture business, for future architecture students and also for my other customers.
India was the country with most people contacting me, they were also most non-serious, only 1 of 100 willing to pay. My partner architects also told me that are often disturbed by calls from indians asking for free house plans. In late 2014 I wrote a page BAD Indian customers and some anti-India rows in House Design page, hoping to discourage these stupid indians from contacting me, even if I will be accused for racism.
Philippines was the country with most people paying me. Majority of paying customers were in Asia and Africa, third-world countries, paying in average 10-20 USD per hour. Sounds good enough? It wasn’t, adding time wasted with non-paying idiots, architecture earnings were under 5 USD per hour.
Best paying customer was a Mexican architect, paying 100 USD for an apartment complex concept plan that I done in just 1 hour.
Worst paying customer was an Indian annoying me daily on chat for 2 weeks to pay just 40 USD.
Selection of good and bad experiences
2014, a customer from South Africa wanted 8 terraced houses. He said that will pay for complete set of drawings, paid $100 for the initial sketch, gave him the drawing, but did not replied anymore. At least I got payment for the part of work done.
March 2015, a customer from Uganda paid $50 after first sketch and I completed his project, he did not paid the rest until agreed $250.
April 2015, a student paid me $100 for floor plans and elevations of an apartment block. A small sum of money for me but pretty generous for a student. Thank you!
Late 2015, a customer from Nigeria wanted a 4-unit apartment block. The project was so simple that I made the full set of drawings including 3D design in 3 days, he paid me $300. Nice deal!
2015, had the first paying customer from India, but also the most annoying customer in history of my business.
He wanted a house with 2 bedrooms on ground floor and two 1-bedroom units for rental on upper floor, on a very small 25x50ft lot, which is from start a very difficult project, and if that was not hard enough, he wanted to be Vastu-compliant. I made a free sketch and he asked about to revise it, he was talking about payment all time, insisted to revise it and will pay me, I told him to make a test payment of $10 to show that he does have Paypal account (Paypal is not popular in India), he paid me $1 in 3rd day.
Following days he visited my website and opened the chat daily, chatting for 2-4 hours every day asking for revisions. He asked to add a 3rd bedroom, complained X but changing it, he would complain about Y and Z, and so on. I told him that I made the best possible layout, no house follow 100% Vastu rules, he should accept a compromise. I revised and sent him 3 times then ignored his requests and worked at my other projects, answering his questions only occasionally.
Some days he attempted to pretend to be a new customer hoping to get a new free sketch. One day he said that no longer like west-facing and have exchanged with someone else east-facing lot which is 1 feet wider ft and INSISTED to make a new FREE sketch because “I never gave him a 26×50 ft sketch” despite that my terms say 1 FREE sketch per person, not per lot, revisions are for PAYING customers only, and his $1 payment don’t count.
I copy-pasted my procedure of service 3 times and also link to this customer telling me to revise the sketch only after getting half of payment, but he was too idiot to understand.
He saying that have paid part of payment ($1) and kept promising that will pay full $50 price if I revise according his needs (despite that should have charged him $200 for all time he wasted me).
One day I done one more revision, next day surprise, he paid me $40 (at 2 weeks since initial contact), but he didn’t stopped to contact me every day and waste time which I could use for other, higher-paying customers. He asked now 3D design too (and elevations and sections) promising to pay $50 more, despite that the price would have been $300, I made a little 3D design but he didn’t liked it… I imagine how long he would annoy me until next payment. I gave him the DWG files so he can edit himself and told him to go to another designer who accept this type of annoying customers!
He complained about my unprofessional attitude. Yes is unprofessional, but HAD TO get rid of him. Other projects came meantime and got busier than at the moment he contacted me first time.
Conclusion: Indians DOES PAY if are satisfied, but if I knew how much takes to satisfy him I would have NOT made any free sketch to entertain him, I would simply let him to go to other designer!
He told me that have asked other designers as well, and don’t like them because they “work offline” referring at the fact that don’t have chat service to talk with designer while he is working. I do the same, many customers I are greet via chat then we talk for few minutes, they tell house requirements then I send the house via email and continue without chatting. Why does THIS INDIAN need to chat all time? Very ANNOYING!
March 2016, a customer from Nigeria wanted a 300 sqm house. I made a sketch for free, and in June 2016 she returned for complete project, paid me $300 but asked so many revisions causing project to take more than 1 month to be finished, while my income from databases was rising… this made me to say that this is the LAST architecture project I do. Fuck architecture!
During 2016 I had 3 more paying customers for architecture services, but only simple floor plans. ONLY 3, everyone else were idiots not willing to pay! In whole year I earned about $600 from architecture and about $20.000 from databases/programming.
December 2016, a customer from Togo came for an apartment project that was not so feasible due to land size, I made a sketch and we chatted and exchanged several emails that just turned into a waste of time, he never paid.
January 2017, A serious customer from Philippines emailed me, I replied, he replied me after 2 days in middle of a chat with an indian engineer who asked for a house plan and did not wanted to pay for it but said that is an engineer and can help me in my projects in exchange, he kept me talking for 3 hours non-stop, I asked him to show me house drawings completed by him, but he sent me only an unfinished drawing, he failed to convince me to hire him, furthermore due to this non-stop chat I forgot to reply to Philippines customer and he emailed me again 4 days later “Sorry for the trouble. We decided to have the design given to another provider. Thanks.” and next email accused me for slow replying. In conclusion, I lost a paying customer in Philippines due to a fucking Indian who wasted me 3 hours chatting!
March 2017, a customer from Malaysia wanted drawings for 6 units of terraced houses (worker quarters), and later a bungalow and an office building, I wouldn’t have done his project if he didn’t attempted to pay whole sum ($400) in advance, I told him to pay $100 after first sketch then rest $300 at final. I made drawings, he paid me, I sent the drawings. One of the nicest people I met!
He told me to start drawing the bungalow too but didn’t gave me any details to be able to start drawing.
May 2017, a customer from Zimbabwe with an odd-shaped land (five-sided) wanted to build a housing complex, even if I didn’t liked architecture anymore, I decided to take this project due to its size.
He initially said that wants 3-storey houses with 1/2/3-bedroom, which is confusing, because a 3-storey house would have minimum 4-bedroom. Talked with him for several days and he told me stick on 2-storey houses with 3-bedroom and make also an apartment block with 1/2-bedroom units. Next day he changed mind to add 2-bedroom houses. I made a site plan sketch, central parking with houses on 3 sides, told him to pay $100 and after payment I will add more details, he didn’t liked it and said that will send me a drawing of what he wants. He sent me a DWG file with a 4-meter wide road around the lot with 90-degree corners which a car can’t take, and did not contained any parking, I don’t understand his idea… then he didn’t replied anymore. I just wasted time with an idiot.
3 weeks later, he came back, saying that changed mind again and want only apartment units, giving me a link to one of my ready-made designs made for hobby. I talked again with him and I gave him link to another design of mine, he changed mind and told me to use that one instead. I told him that he don’t needs to choose only my ready-made designs, because I can anytime make a new design for him. I sent him 3 more block plans found online (not designed by me) and he never replied after this, NEVER PAID… what an idiot!
June 2017, a flooring company from Singapore asked me to calculate floor area of every flat type in BTO projects completed over next year, no detailed drawings needed, just to measure size of living room, kitchen and bedrooms, which we agreed to do in AutoCAD for $5 per flat and write floor areas in an Excel table. With 32 BTO launched in 2014 and 21 launched in 2015, and average of 4 flat types per BTO, this job may go to $1000.
The problem is that he contacted me Wednesday and told me to do this by next Monday. 5 days not enough while having other projects on TO-DO list. We agreed to do in first phase only BTO completed in 3Q-4Q 2017 and leave the rest for later.
I designed 2 BTOs, 14 floor plans for test, he said that is impressed of my skills, and asked him to pay $70 before drawing more. He asked how to pay and I gave him payment link. He did not paid, after a week I emailed again and he said sorry for delay because is moving home, he asked again if can pay by credit card and I gave him link again, 3 times in total.
Later I emailed again asking why didn’t paid and he said that will pay tomorrow and need floor plans by end of next week. I told him that first phase of drawings will be ready in 1 WEEK starting from the date of payment and gave him link to payment again… time passed, I sent messages also on Facebook company page where he replied after 2 weeks asking again for payment link, but the idiot NEVER paid.
July 2017, a customer from Ethiopia paid $50 for a simple floor plan but after this annoyed me too much with revisions so I did not wanted to waste time with his project anymore, I asked Roy, my partner architect from Philippines, if he wants to take this project and customer agreed to pay him higher than my standard fee, the meticulous customer annoyed Roy so much with revisions so the project was finished only in December and Roy said that don’t want more such customers from me.
However I am impressed by Roy experience and dedication for architecture, even for complex projects, so decided to pass him all my future customers if they want large housing complexes (who want small single-family houses can find himself another architect).
July 2017, a customer from Cote d’Ivoire wanted a 3-bedroom house, I decided to take this project due to simplicity. He paid $50 after first sketch, then asked several changes during designing, in a way that confused me, and once finished he refused to pay remaining $150 saying that my drawings are nothing of what he wants without explaining exactly what he don’t like. I didn’t sent him final drawings. We just wasted time!
(7:04:50 PM) Visitor 93611218: first I can not interpret what you just sent to me. second, we had already discussed the model with the red roof, which does not have any simularity as far as the model of the house
(7:05:15 PM) Teoalida: if you just want another color I can change it
(7:06:32 PM) Visitor 93611218: I do send to you the color of the house i want and you keep as you the same over, and over
(7:07:18 PM) Teoalida: you sent me a photo with a building red and cream
(7:07:26 PM) Teoalida: and initially didn’t noticed that the email had an attachment
(7:07:43 PM) Teoalida: then you said that can add pink too, which I did
(7:07:51 PM) Teoalida: but the roof was never changed from my default color
(7:11:07 PM) Visitor 93611218: There is no red in that building. The color is called magenta. I thing there is too much waiting time, and never get nothing done so far.
(7:14:04 PM) Teoalida: what I can do now? what else to change
(7:14:07 PM) Teoalida: make roof blue or what?
(7:14:47 PM) Teoalida: you put tiles on roof or metal sheet?
(7:27:31 PM) Visitor 93611218: the house you sent to me had nothing to do with the model to be designed
(7:28:53 PM) *** Visitor 93611218 has left ***
August 2017, American mom of 4 kids said that bought an unfinished house (outer walls and roof only) and want renovation drawings from me, initially I was undecided to do or not do this project, because I don’t really like renovation projects and also I am very busy with a lot of database projects, I made a simple floor plan to see if she like it, by this way realized that her project is easy, external walls being already built, the risk for not liking my drawing and asking for revisions is lower. And told to my Philippines architect if he wants to do this project in my place for $500. After not hearing from her for few days, on 2 September I emailed again and she answered that the unfinished house is no longer available for sale and my services are no longer needed. Are you serious? you said that BOUGHT the house! This is how I wasted time with an IDIOT… another BAD experience in this fucking architecture!
October 2017, an Indian who read the page about bad indian customers, offered me to pay for a 5-bedroom house plan on 6x15m land, spawning on 4 floors including private lift. I told him that I want to make a quick sketch, but he said MONEY FIRST.
OK, I gave him link to pay $100, then I made quick sketch with walls and furniture and sent him as PNG screenshot which I also sent it to my partner architect which next day he replied me that the lot is too small and Mumbai building code limit gross floor area to 2x land area. I sent his comments to customer, but he did not replied anymore.
Looks that even paying indians run away, probably the 20-minute sketch was sufficient, indians do not need a professional PDF, no wonder why 99% are not willing to pay? I was planning to add windows, dimensions and room names next day and send him professional PDF.
I set up again a greeting message in chat between 24 December and 5 January “Hi there… would you be interested in some free ideas, a custom floor plan for $20/room, or maybe a complete set of architectural drawings?” even if I wasn’t going to do any new project, but only curious how many people contact me during holidays and if the pay, hire Roy to do their projects.
About 10 people contacted me, including 2 of them from Egypt, first one I put in contact with Roy to do his apartment block, they emailed each other, Roy wanted payment first, customer wanted sketch first, so they wasted time and never made any deal. Second Egypt customer wasted me 3 days chatting for hours aggressively asking to do his project despite that I said from first day that I am NOT interested in his little project, in 3rd day I made a sketch and he said thanks for it and will continue project himself because is a civil engineer. What an IDIOT wasted me 3 days.