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Thoughts for the Weekend & this Week’s Links

System Building.

I am leaving it to the wire this week. Roldan will be up late today getting this article into Pipedrive, so it’s ready to send out this afternoon. He is eight hours ahead in the Philippines. Employing assistants in far corners of the world has been an interesting and successful experiment. I got the idea about ten years ago when I read Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Workweek,

I spent months racking my brains for what type of business I could start that would enable me to work only four hours a week. Numerous examples are given in the book, selling widgets, supplements, books, and CD-ROMs: Yes, it is quite an old book. My problem as an individual professional offering consultancy is it is not an easy business to scale. It relies on my time and expertise to sell a big-ticket item that responds to many unique variables. How on earth do I reduce my input to even a four-day workweek?

I got lucky. I soon realised that I enjoyed what I did too much. Reducing it to four hours a week would not be enough. However, I continued to think about the ideas in the book for a few years in a quest to be more effective. The best link I could make to what Ferriss was peddling was that part of what I do is sell information. Once the initial listening, design and refining are done, the production of the information to obtain consent and a building is repeatable to some degree. So, I built a robust system that captures and produces information.

I started with a neat set of drawing and specification information that ensured the same quality each time, reduced errors and allowed others to take on some of the production of drawings but still look like I did them.  Next came the recording of project information. This has gone from forty or so projects stored in my head to eighty in a system – I have started fifty-nine projects this year. Largely thanks to Pippa, who built the system in Pipedrive two years ago and then revamped it for version two this summer.

Along with a series of very prescriptive checklists, it can be followed by someone with some light training. It’s working well. Sadly, Pippa left a month ago to work in Bristol, but she trained Nicole, who is doing well in Manila, keeping the system running like a well-oiled machine. It means I can focus on design and advising clients without getting bogged down in project admin. The next step is some drawing support, but I will keep this local, and if I can tie it into a little shop and showroom, all the better.

In the last week, the system has come into its own. I have submitted thirty-five Building Regulation applications so clients sit within the current regime and not the far more involved way of doing things that kicks in next week thanks to the Building Safety Act (BSA).

One result of the BSA is that I am working hard to build a new version of the drawings and specification side of the system. This is fun, forcing me to implement several ideas I have had for a while, including better links between the drawings and specifications. The new Act means that builders must follow the design far more closely, as any changes will need to be signed off by me before the homeowner can get their final certificate from Building Control. As a consequence, the design information will be far more prescriptive. It should result in better builds, but bringing small builders on board will need another system.

This week’s web links include the best place to recruit from the Philipines, a recent Tim Ferriss podcast about tools and systems and an Irish castle.

Feel free to let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. You will always find me at carl@carlarchitect.co.uk.

All the best

Carl's signature

This Week’s Links:

A recent Tim Ferriss podcast about virtual assistants, tools and systems

Imaginative ways to decorate the hall of a terraced house.

A virtual assistant is worth considering; the  Philippines is a great place to start. The website came highly recommended, and I’ve used it to recruit three great people.

Pick up a jar of harissa from Southsea Local and make this prawn and spaghetti dish. Go easy on the harissa. My son Raph was sweating after my first attempt!

An Irish castle for you.

Ten interior design ideas.

And finally, a trend alert: checkerboard tiles.

Main image credit: Matt Stevens – Portico Marketing

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