Yesterday was spent attending Jonathan Segal's seminar on Architect as Developer in DC. I met architects who traveled in from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Indiana, and even Toronto. There was a strong showing of younger architects (under 35 years old) in the crowd of just over 500 people.
What an incredible wealth of knowledge he has. He described how as architects/building professionals, we have certain advantages that other small developers don't have.
Some things that opened my eyes:
He does as much of the construction work himself as he can.
His example: Say if you hired a contractor to build a project and his bid was $1 million. Around 20% of that is his profit. If you become the contractor you immediately make $200k more. Now if you perform some of the framing, drywall, landscaping, roofing, etc., you are eliminating the subcontractor's markups and profits, which could make you another $100k - $200k more. Now you've built a $1million building for $600k. You're project is profitable sooner, and if you have investors you can pay them back sooner. Everyone's happy and wealthier.
Good design sells: As architects controlling the development we will make choices as to where we need to spend money to retain the aesthetics and intelligence of the design. Don't value engineer a building to the point that it's no longer attractive or architecturally sensible. He 'shakes' the building until all unnecessary adornment, features and extra crap is gone, eliminating additional costs.
He goes into depth on a multitude of topics including business entity setup, liability, insurance, timing and structuring the deal, financing, market analysis, loans, and a host of other topics.
This guy has got his shit together! He worked for 4 years out of school, then did his first project at age 27 (7 on Kettner). Fast forward about 20 years later, he sold a portion of his portfolio so an investment group for a cool $45 million
I HIGHLY recommend attending the next seminar (whenever he gets it setup) as it was worth every penny and more.