Happy New Year – 2018

Happy New Year

Editor note…

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s been three years since my last blog and I did not want to publish just anything so I’m letting you in on my biggest project in People, Places & Things history. In the coming months you will have information on the next phase of PPT and it will a dozy for everyone involved.

So please stay tuned, you will be pleasantly surprise. As a warmup, please read this blog posting as a sneak peak to PPT new focus in 2018.

(From September 15, 2017 blog posting)

My role as a HUD 203K Consultant

As a HUD 203k consultant, I keep getting calls from people, needing a 203k consultant but it’s at a time of either the client already has a lender and contractor or the client was told by the lender that they need a 203k consultant once their contractor quote comes in. Once I explain to the client what my role in this process, things become clearer. In order to navigate through this process, most customers wants to know what is a 203k Rehab Loan?

A 203k loan is an FHA Loan that allows you to purchase a home that needs renovations or just some updating and get one loan that includes funds for the purchase AND all rehab costs, inspections fees and even 6 month’s carrying costs. HUD does realize that most people cannot afford 2 mortgage payments or paying rent and a mortgage payment while you wait for the work to be completed. HUD allows you to include up to 6 months of your mortgage payments in your loan so you do NOT have to pay your mortgage out of pocket for the first six months.

Below is the process in getting your 203k loans from initial process to the completion of your project.

Site Visit

  • Consultant meets with the borrower at the site.
  • A general examination of the work to be done determines if the project is feasible.
  • If feasible, Client signs Consultant Agreement and pays the Consultant “Feasibility Study” fee.
  • If the Contractor is already selected, the Consultant meets with the Contractor to discuss the overall project, project expectations and document preparations and submittals.

Consultant prepares a detailed Work Write-Up which contains:

  • Clear, concise project specifications
  • Construction cost analysis
  • HUD required draw request forms
  • Preparation of contractor bid packages
  • Preparation of lender packages

Consultant delivers the Work Write-Up Packages

  • Borrower
  • Lender
  • Contractor

Selection of a Contractor by the Borrower

  • The Borrower selects a contractor. Borrowers should be aware that many lenders may have contractor qualification criteria. Some lenders maintain a list of contractors that have met their qualification criteria. Discuss contractor selection with your lender to learn about their contractor requirements. If you’re considering a contractor which has not yet been approved by your lender or has never done a 203(k), it is important that they are informed early on about the 203(k) concepts as it applies to contractors. The Consultant then meets with the Contractor to discuss the overall project, project expectations and document preparations and submittals.

Loan Closes

  • Repair funds are placed in escrow.
  • Remodeling begins.

Consultant Performs Draw Request Inspections

  • 1st Draw – Consultant insures permits were issued.
  • 2nd and 3rd Draw – Draw request inspections are performed as work progresses.
  • 4th Draw – A punch list is established.
  • 5th Draw – The project is closed out and warranties and lien releases collected.

This process will work with a “Fannie Mae Homestyle Loan”, more information on that process will coming in my next blog. Your loan process should be as clean as possible and my job as a HUD 203k consultant is to be sure to keep it that way.

 

Happy New Year – Neighborhoods

How to define a “Neighborhood”? The Webster dictionary terms it as

A: the people living near one another and
B: a section lived in by neighbors and usually having distinguishing characteristics

When a house gets strip or gutted, it affects more than just the property value. It affects the community and the City surrounding that community. It affects the family that invested its blood, sweats and tears into the house of their dreams, only to see the vacant home next door get vandalized. It effects the City, due to the fact that the city needs families to move back into its neighborhoods to repopulate its tax base. The City needs a stable home market to maintain its communities.

How a neighborhood looks can be deceiving, just look at the one of most impoverished areas in the country the Brightmoor Community.

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This community on the west side of Detroit has burned out shells of homes that was once populated with many families. Acres and acres of vacated land that is waiting to be repurposed.

There is a lot of blight, but if you look at the residences in this community, you will never know it. They are as prideful of their community as you will see in any community in this country. They have boarded up some of the homes and painted pictures of the board to make the blight not as noticeable. They started urban farming and they have made parks out of some of the empty lots. They have found creative ways to make where they live more pleasing to the eye. They have found a way to make a negative situation more positive. What they have done says a lot about the people who live in the Brightmoor Community.

If we continue to let the undesirables have their way in our communities and we don’t do anything to stop it, then you reap what we sow. Remember: Brightmoor did not look like this years ago.

From my point of view, a neighborhood is what you make of it. It’s about what people in the community think of themselves and what they think about where they live. I was brought up to believe that where you live and how you live is a reflection of who you are as a person.

Hope

Happy New Year

End of the year “Refresh”

I just refresh my web site. More content is coming…

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The hijacking of the profession called “architecture”…

Part 2 – Whose idea was it for us to do “free design consultation”?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Milton Friedman

Asking builders why they offer free design to potential clients is like reading the same book over and over again. Some will say that they do it because they have to, so they can keep their crews busy or they will lose them. Ask designers about free design and they will tell you that giving away your intellectual property is devaluing the design profession as a whole. No matter what the reason is, the public feels that creating designs for them should be free. Where did they get this reasoning from?

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For example, go to any “home improvement center” and ask for a kitchen cabinets quote. The first thing the design consultant will ask you is whether you have a sketch of your kitchen layout. The customer may or may not have one. It does not matter because the same “home improvement center” will offer the design layout for “free”. Whether or not they get the sale or not, the customer will get a good-looking design that they can take home to show off to their friends and relatives. As they show off their 3D representation of their kitchen, they will let others know how they received a “free” design.

The example above is on a small scale versus the various projects that we face every day, but it confirms a trend. From a consumer point of perspective, they’re receiving a free service. The public does not know how many hours the designer had to train to become a designer, how much money the designer had to spend for school or how much the “home improvement center” had invested in training.

The main complaints about “free” design came from Kitchen Design professionals. It could have come from other design professionals (just insert profession here) the arguments are the same? The public is getting sold misinformation about the work we do. Doing any design service takes time. Someone told the public that our services needs to be free. Even in our profession, builders or developers has always pitted one design firm against another to get lower prices for design services. As a professional that’s not a major problem. The real problem occurs when they want premium service for pennies. They can demand it because of consumer’s perceived value of what we do.

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This is another example of who is running our industry. The time and money it takes to educate ourselves to become designers, only to learn that others are running our industry. Whether you are an architect, kitchen designer or interior designer, someone is influencing our profession.

How many marketing dollars went into the concept of “free” design? I wonder if the “home improvement center” hired design professionals as consultants to verify that their business model will work.

The hijacking of “architecture” had to start somewhere. The results are evident.

Part 3 – Endgame

The hijacking of “architecture” – sidebar

Editors Note…

Before I go further, I would like to say “Thank You” for all of the responses that I received on my last blog post. First off, as you all must know that the most talked about piece was the differences between license and non-license in residential architecture. I need to stress that the main point of the blog was that “all” design professionals are in this predicament together. It was not meant for the topic to become the usual “license vs. non-license issue”. So before I can release “Part 2”, I needed to at least comment on this subtext.   

 

Changing technology is the driving force

There are more licensed architects than non-license; in the field of commercial architecture. As it should be. The years of school, apprenticeships and testing are not only admirable, but necessary. However, the real threat is coming from – “changing technology”. Consider this one: outsourcing from other countries, these industries are selling professional design services at a substantial lower rate. By getting a licensed professional to modify their plans and seal them; will save them outside industry design fees rather than going the traditional route (a number of licensed architects outsource their work oversees to save money too…).

In the field of residential architecture, non-licensed outnumbers licensed by a large margin. Due to the exemption clauses in every state, there are more non-licensed designers in residential design. Think about it, we have various types of designers, from kitchens designers to professional residential designers (and everything in between). That is a lot of titles. Even some of the non-licensed professional organizations discuss protecting the field of residential designers from “cad operators”. Just like the AIA who is trying to protect its members from non-licensed designers. Because of the distractions going on in our industry, other industries are dictating terms in our profession.

No matter the numbers of us design professionals, we are still outnumbered ten to one vs. the outside industries.

The Frank Lloyd Wright debate…

In various forums, there were topics about what to do about non-licensed designers becoming architects. One of the greatest was Frank Lloyd Wright. As most of us know, he was not licensed to practice architecture. However most of us do not know that the field of “architecture” in those days was very different from it is today. For an interesting read, go to the AIA history website (http://www.aia.org/about/history/AIAB028819) and you will notice that it took the organization over 50 years to develop licensing laws. For those licensed architects, who keep saying that the current path to get a license cannot or should not be changed, just look at your history. Changes happen all the time.

Now let us take additional look at another threat from – “changing technology” – residential architects no longer are considered – Professionals (as from the other industries and public perspective). Architects consider themselves as professionals, like doctors, lawyers, etc… Maybe that works for commercial architects, but because of outside influences, residential architects are considered not to be professionals. I know most of you blame non-licensed designers for that, but the real culprits are – outside industries. For example, when submitting plans to the permit department, the builder will go to the client and say to them that they do not need to submit 10 sheets of details to build their home. The client comes to you saying what the builder told them. The permit department will back up the builder, due to cost issues (i.e. the designer is over charging you for the unnecessary work of 10 sheets of detail). Who do you think the client will believe?

Lastly, just remember the original premise of this thread was to alert our industry of the possible threat on the horizon and why as a “design community”, should address it. The issue of who is licensed and who is not is really a minor issue, because if we do not get our name back, it will not matter, in the long run. Somebody else will own it.

Part 2 is coming very soon…

The hijacking of the profession called “architecture”…

Part 1 – Why can I not use the term “architect” but an IT person can?

From the “duckdown.blogspot.com web site”

Look up the term “architect” on CareerBuilder.com and here what you find…Click on “Narrow search” and you will find 110 IT entries that is using the term, out of 55 design topics, none of them was in the field of architecture. According to Wikipedia, the term “software architecture discipline” is centered on the idea of reducing complexity through abstraction and separation of concerns. To date there is still no agreement on the precise definition of the term “software architecture”. However, this does not mean that individuals do not have their own definition of what software architecture is. This leads to problems because many people are using the same terms to describe differing ideas. Why is that’s happening? Before I can give you reasons on why, let me tell you why this topic was created.

The IT industry is growing between 18 to 26 percent for all occupations through the year 2014 (from the United States Department of Labor). Licensed Architects in the US numbers around 106,000 (from the NCARB’s 2012 survey) but an IT professional numbers around 1.6 million (from the United States Department of Labor). Since the IT profession outnumbered Licensed Architects by a 15 to 1 ratios whom is going to win the “naming” war?

The reason is as a Residential Design Professional (not a licensed architect…) we are instructed by the powers to be to not to use any of the word or its derivatives or face the music with the legal system. But by letting others professional use the name, is dilution our design profession. So in order to get back our name (yes our name since I’m a residential design professional), all of us professionally has to put our differences aside and to take back our name. If we do nothing, then all of our lively hoods as design professionals would be even in more in jeopardy.

I know, I know, you do not believed me, so let me ask you this question:

Whose idea was it anyway for us to do “free design consultation”?

Part 2 coming next week.

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