Review of Entrepreneur Architect’s Foundations: Business Forms and Checklists

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A few months back I reviewed Entrepreneur Architect’s Hybrid Proposal Course. When I wrote that review I literally used his product about a half dozen times for each proposal that I have done. I haven’t used the true hybrid proposal in every situation but it is so well written sometimes I often copy, key language from his proposal into my own. Having those documents has been super helpful. After being very pleased with that class and template, I decided to check out his other product called Foundations.

What is Foundations?

Foundations is a series of boilerplate MS word template files used to facilitate a project in the architecture office. These templates keep each project highly organized and moving through the standard phases of a project. Foundations contains several sets of checklists of standardized items or milestones that take place during a project to make sure nothing gets overlooked and the execution of projects are consistent within the office. If I have learned anything from Mark R. LePage, it is that he is the biggest proponent of: Setting up systems, so the business can run itself, without the business owner’s constant presence.

Entrepreneur Architect - Architecture Business Forms and Checklists For Architects

Foundations are a testament to that mantra. These documents and systems are what he uses for projects in his firm, Fivecat Studio. The Foundations templates are organized into the following categories

  • Business Administration Forms
  • Project Organizer Binder Forms
  • Project Management Forms
  • Design Development Forms
  • Construction Management Forms
  • Sales Forms

Let me give you a brief summary of what kind of files are inside each one of these categories.

Business Administration Forms

These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Letterhead, Memos, Transmittals – Already setup and ready to go with firm letterhead. Just start typing
  • Employee Contact Info. – Standard Employee info
  • Plotter Log – For collecting that reimbursable info

 

Project Organizer Binder Forms

These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Binder checklists and cover sheet – LePage creates and maintains a well-organized binder for the office and the client,  both of which he continually updates.

 

Project Management Forms

These are my favorites. These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Program Statement – This is where the client signs off on the program and the scope of the project.
  • Pre-Design Client Questionnaire – This is the coolest document of them all. It’s a long questionnaire for the client to neatly gather all logistical and design ideas they have for the project. I usually get this information in multiple emails and phone conversations. It’s smart to gather and write all of this information in one place. This sets a nice organized precedent for starting a project.
  • Existing Conditions – Checklist of information to gather during an existing conditions survey
  • Zoning Analysis – Fill in the blank zoning sheet.
  • Code Analysis – Fill in the blank code analysis.
  • Site Evaluation Checklist – Checklist for conducting a site analysis.
  • Building Department Information Request – Request for building department records.
  • Meeting Minutes Template
  • Authorization to Proceed for Architecture Services – Form for client to sign authorizing the architect to start working.
  • Authorization to Proceed for Additional Services – Form for client to sign authorizing additional services to the contract.
  • Design Change Order Template
  • Design Development Checklist – Excellent checklist of milestones to be met to complete design development phase.
  • Field Report Template
  • Punchlist Template – A checklist for kicking ass and punching lists : )
  • Plumbing fixture Master List – Excel spreadsheet, could be really helpful in staying organized with building using a lot of fixtures
  • Fixture Finishes Budget Calculator – Spreadsheet for staying organized with what finishes are where and what they cost.
  • Door and Finish  Schedule – Very basic Excel templates.

 

Design Development Forms

These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Cost estimating templates
  • Client shopping lists for kitchen and bath information
  • Product supplier info checklists

 

Construction Management Forms

These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Several cost estimate templates
  • Sub-Contractor contact info lists – A well-organized contact list divided by type of work. This is excellent for calling back the subs that do great work.
  • Invitation to Bid Letter – Contains great boilerplate language
  • Bid Analysis – Excel file for reviewing bid results side by side.
  • Meeting Minutes

 

Sales Forms

These templates contain the following types of files:

  • Client Contact Info – He includes both residential and commercial contact info forms.

 

Initial Impression of Foundations

It’s a pretty thorough set of files. My summary above just touches upon the highlights. There are also several more files included that I didn’t mention. Some of the documents are definitely more useful than others, nevertheless its nice having them be ready for when I design that huge building with a ton of unique bathrooms and need to keep all my plumbing fixtures organized.

One thing to consider is that several of these files reference his Standard Terms and Conditions for Architectural Services, (from the proposal course) that may or may not be applicable to your practice. Just make sure you carefully read all the language before you start using the templates.

Having worked in a handful architecture offices over the years, I have never had such a complete, well organized set of documents and checklists to help to do the work. I usually have to edit the last memo or transmittal, for the next one that needs to go out. It’s nice having them already made up as template files to start fresh. As a Young Architect starting my own practice, purchasing this complete set of documents was almost a no brainer.

My big problem with Foundations

I sat on Foundations for a few weeks before I really got into using them. The problem I had with the documents was that the entire series is formatted and setup for Mark LePage and his firm. What I needed to do was open each file, replace his logo and name with my own and resave the MS Word template files.

I got stuck because I don’t have a logo for my business. But I should… And I don’t really need it but it would make the documents look a lot more professional.

AND… The thought of opening, editing and saving all those files just gives me headache thinking about that task. There are like 70 files that need this done. Ugh. I don’t have time for this.

The Work Around

Have you heard of Fiverr? It is a website where people will do things for you for $5. Over the past few months I have been using Fiverr like crazy to get things done like: help and advice on my website, getting a professional voicemail recorded and even having a weird video made for my best friend’s birthday.

So I got on Fiverr and purchased Michael Riscica Architect AIA this logo for $5:

Entrepreneur Architect - Architecture Business Forms and Checklists For Architects

Until I have the time, money and energy to hire the hipster graphic designer, I’m just going to use this logo on my letterhead (maybe even my website).

And while I was at Fiverr I found a Virtual Assistant who can go in and edit all the files with my name and logo. I setup all the files in a dropbox so she could access the files, make the changes and then transfer the files back to me when she was done. It took her a few hours to get the job done.

Here is what the finished product looks like

20140605_191738

Links

Here is a link to purchase Foundations on Entrepreneur Architect’s website

Here is the link to the Logo gig I used – They had a good rating and a quick turnaround time. There are a lot of other logo designers on there. Poke around.

Here is the link to the Virtual Assistant – If you mention “YoungArchitect.com and Foundation documents” when you contact her she will be familiar with the work that needs to be done. Just stick the files on dropbox and give her a sample on one file of how the headers and footers should look so she is able to replicate it. You will also need to purchase her regular gig + the reformatting and editing documents upgrade + complete 5 hours of date entry. So it costs $25 total to have her change all the letterhead and names. Not bad for getting the job done by someone who is a lot more proficient at the task then I am.

Here is a link to dropbox to get a free account  – Dropbox is free. They give you 2 free gigs for signing up and the Foundations files are only 8 megs

Here is a link to the Review of the Hybrid Proposal Course I wrote a few weeks ago.

Entrepreneur Architect does it again

Foundations is pretty cool. I highly recommend anyone who is working in the business of architecture to check out these documents. Like I said in my Hybrid Proposal course review, I wish this guy offered more classes and products. His first two products have brought me a lot of value and I highly recommend them.

Mark LePage and Entrepreneur Architect has been really a wonderful teacher and mentor to me over the past few years. If you haven’t checked out his blog or podcast make sure you do and prepare to get addicted geeking out over business and architecture.

Entrepreneur Architect - Architecture Business Forms and Checklists For Architects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneur Architect - Hybrid Proposals for Architectural Services

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.

Roger King - September 18, 2014

Great checklist for the Architechs. Very easy to make a notification for the same.

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