As fresh architects, we always have this dilemma of whether to be a freelancing architect or to work in a firm. Both have different scopes and offer different opportunities. Any freelancing architect and an architect working in a firm will have the same understanding, but each one will have different resources, which will have a crucial impact on the client’s hiring choice. From a hiring perspective, every client needs to have a better understanding of what each scope is about so that they can choose according to their requirements.

Freelancing is becoming the most preferred choice among architects as it gives them the freedom and flexibility to design buildings with their style and design principles. Freelancers are often referred to as “jacks of all trades” as they can single-handedly manage and execute several steps of a project. To do this, they must be equipped with several reliable contacts who have reliable resources. As freelancers, you can manage time easily as you don’t have to depend on others. This allows them to lead a healthier life than those who are working in architectural firms. Besides that, they are self-dependent, which makes them economically stable. They don’t have to register as a firm, which saves them from taxes and the tedious job of hiring and maintaining employees for a firm. Currently, the number of freelancing architects is increasing, suggesting multiple points. Freelancing helps architects to provide straightforward solutions to clients without dealing with the bureaucracy but can also be very limited. In studios, multiple architects will have different ideas and opinions, and they can criticise your work, which will improve the design. This can influence the client’s choice of hiring. Despite knowing all this, freelancing is preferred over working in architectural firms.

Freelancing architect_ ©https://architecttwocents.com/freelance-websites-for-architects/

Working in architectural firms is the first choice for architects who want to earn as soon as they leave college. This allows them to gain knowledge and experience in this field while maintaining financial stability. Architectural firms themselves can be divided into different categories. Some architects join their family-run studio, which helps them to lead a studio with the already available resources. This will help them run a studio with financial stability and easily handle new projects, which will be attained due to their name and fame gained over the years. For these firms, there will be too many projects, and they will be better at large-scale handling projects by now.

Architectural firm_ ©https://www.hensonarchitect.com/describing-our-architectural-firm-and-how-it-works/

On the other hand, some architects start their firms. This is similar to freelancing. Newly formed architectural studios will not get projects as compared to established firms. This applies to the number of resources and project management. In a small firm, the project takes time due to their limited amount of resources, but their design could be unique. While large-scale firms can provide faster solutions, in some instances, the design thinking part may be lost and the overall architecture may not be unique or satisfactory to the client. But to become a large-scale firm, they would have participated in many competitions and established contacts all over the world, which could be useful to a client who wants a hi-tech or sophisticated design. In general, architects prefer to work in small-scale firms as they can learn a lot and gain experience with financial stability so that they can start their architectural firm or go up the corporate ladder and establish themselves, while others who have financial stability or those who want to establish themselves on their own choose to become freelancers.

Services provided by architectural firms_ ©https://maricamckeel.com/working-with-architect-makingsense-services-fees/
Types of services provided by freelancing architects_ ©https://www.fiverr.com

As clients, before hiring an architect or an architectural studio, we do online research to try and understand the type of outcomes we can get from the architects. By doing so, at first glance, freelancing architects may seem like consultants. Whereas an architectural firm can provide solutions for the entire design. In an architectural firm, they cover every aspect of a design, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage to a client. Some clients require only a design, which may include detailed floor plans and elevations, and they may have other reliable or known resources to handle other aspects of the design. In such a case, hiring an architectural firm is not advisable. If you’re considering hiring an architectural firm, make sure they have prior experience in the type of projects you are looking for and that the principal architect is directly involved in the design process. You can talk to their previous clients or look into their social media and lectures and see if they know anything about the type of project and if their design ideas align with yours. Because there are firms where the principal architect does not participate in the design stages and allows freshers to handle it, which could lead to total catastrophe. But if you’re looking for a freelancing architect, make sure they have prior experience working in an architectural firm as an architect. In my opinion, these architects will know first-hand how and what should be done for a project, and they can easily apply it as a freelancer. They will also know what could go wrong at each stage and they will know how to handle things.

In any case, these are some basic guidelines for hiring a freelancing architect or an architectural studio. But the main influencing part of the decision as to “Whom to hire?” depends entirely on your needs and the type of project. For a small interior project or elevation detailing, it is best to go with a freelancing architect as architectural firms can make the process easy while adding to the cost as compared to freelancing architects. There are multiple platforms available to enquire and research to find the perfect architectural studio or freelancing architect to handle a project. In a world where everything is available at the click of a button, it is very easy to find an architect. The most challenging part is finding an excellent architect who can fulfill your requirements and exceed your expectations for your project. In my opinion, a client can hire a freelancing architect or an architectural firm. But the final decision should be influenced after careful thinking based on the above points, as any project from a client will be well invested and will last for a long time, and it should be a success for the client.

References:

  1. Freelancing as an Architect: The Pros, The Cons, and Tips for Success by Lidija Grozdanic

[Last updated 22 Nov 2016]. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/799876/freelancing-as-an-architect-the-pros-the-cons-and-tips-for-success [Accessed 17 July 2022].

Author

A creative enthusiast with keen interests in photography, art and travelling, focusing on redefining the architectural design by combining social and environmental sustainability while creating spaces that exhilarate people. A very dedicated and hard-working individual, with a strong belief, that a true understanding of architectural design cannot be achieved without critically analyzing and researching, which can be achieved through reading, writing and visual depictions.

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