I have been doing some moonlighting lately (hence the lack of blog posts). For those of you not in the architectural profession, moonlighting is when for some self loathing sadistic reason, you decide to take on additional work, most likely in the middle of the night (hence the term moonlighting) in addition to your full-time job.

I am not sure whether it’s because it’s bread into you in architecture school that you can always do more, the thrill of stretching your design muscles or the allure of making a little extra cash, but taking on some side work here or there is very tempting.

However, I have always been careful about the type and amount of work I take on for a couple of reasons. One is that my primary job, is just that, primary. It comes first. There is no side project that is worth jeopardizing your career for. And I do mean career. Whether it is a lack of sleep that causes you to not perform your job well or clients and contractors that need your attention during the day that will distract you from your full-time work, both are a good reasons for being fired. So if you are considering it, I offer the following advice:

Negotiate not only the fee but the schedule and your availability up front. I think it’s important that your client understands that you are doing work for them in your ‘spare’ time. More than likely they are getting a lower fee than hiring someone who is working full-time and their access to you needs to reflect that. This is a non-negotiable item for me. If the schedule doesn’t fit a reasonable amount of time that I have to complete it in, then it’s not worth it. I refuse to work on side work at any other time then on the side.

Don’t take on work that you don’t have the experience to complete. I usually only take on graphics work. Mostly because I enjoy doing it but also because it doesn’t require me to know every in and out of construction. I don’t claim to know everything. So in cases where you do need a structural engineer, mechanical engineer or any other type of consultant, make sure you establish that and their fees with the client up front. The answer to the question ‘do we really need a _____ (fill in the blank with any expensive consultant)?’ unless you are one, is yes.

I am not even going to address the issue of liability here because there is a lot of gray area. All I will say is make sure that your primary employer is okay with the type of side work you are taking on. I have heard stories of primary employers being brought into lawsuits for work their employees have done on the side.

Manage the time you do commit to side work. Whether you are being paid hourly or as a lump sum, treat it like a job. Schedule the hours you are going to work and track them diligently. It will make billing for the current project and estimating your time for future projects easier. If you set realistic start and stop times the more likely you are to stick to them.

Lastly, set a fee that makes it worth it. After all how much is your free time worth? If you are not being paid that, then look for another project. Your talent has value but your free time has more. Take projects that will be worth your time and that you will look forward to working on. Not all work is worth while work especially when it means sacrificing time with family and friends.

I will be opting for no work and more sleep in the coming days so keep an eye out for more goofy blog posts. But I’m curious, have you taken on side work? What are your feelings about it? Do you have advice to add?

ps. since I couldn’t post any of the work I have been doing I used this picture I took of cheese instead.  Yes I know it doesn’t make any sense, but I like cheese and it’s my blog so deal with it.


6 Responses to “:MOONLIGHTING”

  1. Jessica Says:

    You forgot one more thing someone should do before taking on more side work… ASK YOUR WIFE!

  2. Aunt Elaine Says:

    I agree with your wife!! lol
    I like your cheese picture…you and your cousin have a strange obsession with taking pictures of food!!! 😉

  3. designiswhatyoucangetawaywith Says:

    love the cheese

    • mbevivino Says:

      I was just working on another post inspired by you… knowing me I won’t post it for another month. This blogging thing is significantly more difficult when you feel the need to research the topic you are writing about instead of just making stuff up! New respect for your blog

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