Friday, March 5, 2010

Creating value in the design profession

If there is one thing common between architects and engineers, it is their frequent complaint that clients do not value their work. That they always go for the one who quotes lowest for the design work. That those new graduates are flooding and undercutting the established ones. That they are somehow 'industry ge agu vattaalanee'. Or something along that.

This is especially prominent these days where there is less work to go around, and the prices has come down. The question asked is thus, how do we make clients value our work? If you take away the nice choice of words, the question basically comes down to, how do we make clients pay high price for our work?

The reason the prices are bid low is because there is healthy competition in the market. Usually, new upcoming players are the ones who bid low, and they sometimes get frowned upon by the experienced ones. Sure, new ones have less experience and will probably be of low standard than that done by an experience one. But this is not necessarily always the case. Thus, there is lots of talk about regulations in this field. Regulations are usually needed in any industry, but they have to be fair and should not restrict competition. Thus the talks about regulations usually boil down to these:

1. Creating a fee scale for the provision of services, ie price controls.
2. Creating licenses for practitioners.

Of course, these will be put forward as a way to 'create value', improve quality, to provide recognition etc.

Of these, regulations of type 1 are the worst. Suppose for example that a fee scale for design is set to min Rf 3 to max Rf 6 per sqft per floor, then those who's work is valued below Rf 3 rate will not be able to find work. Say a client wants to develop a 1000 sqft plot to 5 floors. At Rf 3 rate, the price is 3 x 5 x 1000 = Rf15,000. That means the minimum price one is legally allowed to offer for that project is Rf15k. If an experienced designer A and a not-so-experienced designer B offer the minimum allowed price, there is no reason why a client will choose B. Since he has to pay Rf15k anyway, why bother go to B? Maybe if B offered something like 12k, he might go. But B is not legally allowed to do that! Thus such a price control will be disastrous for the new comers.

Regulations of type 2 are also designed to prevent new-comers easy access to the market. It will be full of categorisation and rules so that the established players will get the lucrative projects. New ones can keep doing small projects.

But how do we improve quality if we are not paid high? is a regular question. If high price is the requirement for quality work, maybe one should see the quality of environmental impact assessments done in Maldives. Each report is USD4000+. As for the quality, let their clients and EIA evaluators be the judge.

7 comments:

autodesk user novice said...

Why must Architects be licensed?

Architects are professionals. The public must be sure that people who call themselves Architects are qualified to practice in their field. So, all across Canada, Architects are licensed by provincial or territorial associations of architects. The goals of the associations are:

to encourage members to improve their skills and knowledge, and
to maintain high standards in the practice of architecture.
Like other professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, Architects are legally responsible for the decisions they make. In some provinces, all licensed Architects must have professional liability insurance if they wish to practice architecture. This insurance protects both the public and the Architect. As well, each province and territory has an “Architects Act” which regulates the practice of architecture. It is against the law for anyone who is not licensed to use the title “Architect”.

fathimath said...

well done autodesk novice for educating the general public on why practitioners should be licenses...
it was sneaky article putting using a strawman......

anyone who is competent and professional will get clients in any job.....

axee said...

I believe in what you've written 100%. If laws and regulations are meant to protect any group, that group should be the general public.

The excuse that they r doing all this to protect public is plain hypocrisy. How does reducing competition by price control and layers of restrictions on new practitioners protect public interests?

EIA is a real case in point as mentioned here

meekaaku said...

The problem is not licensing per se. The problem is when they are setup so that it reduces competition. There is no reason why a licensing regime should be anti-competitive.

As for price controls, I dont see how a price control regime will be in anwyay competitive.

Now if you have an argument that reducing competition will increase quality and lower price, I would like to hear it.

fathmath:
you said "anyone who is competent and professional will get clients in any job"
That is exactly my point. But if the regulations are designed that one is not allowed to be competitive, then he/she will not get a job. Is it not?

Anonymous said...

Sure, new ones have less experience and will probably be of low standard than that done by an experience one...

Like other professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, Architects are legally responsible for the decisions they make. In some provinces, all licensed Architects must have professional liability insurance if they wish to practice architecture. This insurance protects both the public and the Architect....

chat said...

我愛那些使自己的德行成為自己的目標或命定的人........................................

m.u.f said...

"Creating value in the design profession"

without value/s how can there be a design profession. Design is adding value .

.Being competent and professional is only half the story when your'e talking about Value (addition) with Design.

I see a lot of "competent" and "professional" ppl arguing away any ethical or public oversight with the "lack of knowledge/capacity in the system" argument.

Rule, regulate, and reward thyself is the ethical basis of our so called "professionals".

well done with the article