I see there being to basic parts of the architectural business, the architecture and the business. Sometimes what architects complain about are business issues, not architectural issue. We all need to make money to stay in business. The architectural part is the more warm and fuzzy part of the two. Architecture is the creative part and the emotional part or maybe it is just the people part?
I see many discussions on how architects should be paid and how undervalued and unappreciated we are. I agree that I don't think many people know what architects do and I am not quite sure some architects do. Every now and then I am asked to help someone. They may say "Do you do this?" or "Can you do this", but they really have no idea what is involved in providing the service they are asking about. Let me state that I work to my own standards, so I will provide them with exactly what they asked for, but my final product is usually of a quality above what they expected. I go into a lot of these situations with the intention of doing it for free, just to help them, but I don't always tell them that. In the end they say "Let me pay you something" and I typically reply "You don't owe me anything". They insist on paying me something so I tell them whatever they want to pay is fine. I think this gives them a sense of satisfaction, so I end up getting paid $500 for about $4000 worth of work. In my mind even $10 would have been fine. I take a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I have made their space better whether they really do or not.
My wife and I have friends who asked me to help them with the new house they had purchased. They wanted to remodel and reorganize some spaces. There had been a hallway coming right off the living room that they wanted to close off. On one end they were going to make an additional closet for the first floor bedroom and the other side a half bath for visiting guest. I told them that was not a good location as it was to close to the living area and no one would use it. At first they didn't understand why, so I explained that people are very self conscience about going to the bathroom and having anybody hear them. So I recommend they put a hallway into the garage area, that was also being remodeled, and at the end of the hall put in the half bath. The new bathroom was still in the front of the house, but at the other end. You went from the living area past the dining area, which was open to the living area, and down the hallway to the bath. I told them contrary to what they may think, swing the door out toward the direction they had just come from, as this would give visual privacy into the bathroom. My last suggestion was to get the loudest fan they could find as it would give a sense of audible security to the individual using the bathroom. We have been over several times and I am constantly thanked for making such a great recommendation. This was one of those project I intended on doing for free but was given a small stipend for my work and for the first time my wife finally realize and said "People don't really understand the amount of time you put into these projects do they?"
In North Carolina you are required to have a sealed set of drawing when the project square footage is over 2,500 SF and the cost over $90,000. I was referred to a young lady by a local building inspector, as she was going to rent two tenant spaces that use to have a demising wall between them, but it had been removed. She wanted to put the wall back up, but because the two space totaled more than 2,500 SF she was required to have sealed drawings. I am all for using architects on projects for life safety and good design, but I do not think you need an architect to reconstruct a straight wall that use to separate two tenant spaces. Both tenant spaces had met the code and has separate bathroom. So the only thing she need was to put this one wall back. I wouldn't do he project for free, but I would charge a very, very minimal fee. We agreed to meet at the site which was only about 15 mins from my office. I got there at 2:30 as agreed and she was a no show. I didn't get mad. I have dealt with people in the past that are of limited means trying to start a business to better themselves. In this case I may have been a necessary evil for what she wanted to do, but not in the budget. I don't know if she followed through with her plans for the space and she never called after our scheduled meeting. She had to have an architect as decided by the inspections department, based on what she wanted to do, I don't think she really needed an architect, but she obviously need help from one, so sometimes "You do what you have to do because it's the right thing to do"