At some point in our young architecture careers, we will be faced with an opportunity to moonlight. It may come from mom or dad, a cousin, or long lost relative. When you’re in architecture, word travels among your family and you’ll soon hear from Uncle Al who needs a new deck designed. But the question is, should you do it?

The decision to moonlight has several ramifications. You could find yourself in deep trouble or in the beginnings of a great start to opening your own firm. It is not to be taken lightly and can have serious consequences, especially if you’re doing it without your firm’s permission. Before taking on any moonlighting work, be sure to listen to this episode. It could prevent you from making several fatal mistakes.

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Show Notes:

MOONLIGHTING (aka working on the side)

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Run the risk of exhausting yourself and getting your firm and co-workers in trouble

Everyone thinks about it but you need to know the full story


Most firms that have policies in place against moonlighting

MAY allow exceptions for projects that benefit family members


You will have taxes to pay, so it should be about 3x your current hourly rate (varies)


Work may be construed by the client (and the client’s attorney) as being produced under the supervision of the firm, thereby exposing your firm to liability by association for any of your negligent acts

If you use firm resources, like copiers, Fax’s, cad equipment, and advice from office peers.

Firm policies could get you fired (no-moonlighting policies—but that never stopped anyone)

Attorney looks for the bigger fish


Do they love you or your work

What will doing this do do for you (know your reasons why)


Don’t practice unlicensed or hold yourself out as licensed if you’re not

Don’t use your company’s equipment (liability)

Don’t exhaust yourself

Don’t involve your co-workers or trust them to keep it a secret

But never lie if caught

Don’t do this work without a contract (just cause you’re doing it on the side, doesn’t change the requirements)

Liability insurance (especially if its your first jobs) – errors and omissions (E&O)


Launch your own practice

Make more money

No startup (code books, plotters, and more)

Will help you discover why you’re looking (you should have been fulfilled by your job, right?)

Gets you experience you might not get otherwise

Confidence building

More creativity

Portfolio builder


Bring the work into the firm (rainmaker approach)

Talk to your boss before accepting to share your future career goals

Boss could pass along work they don’t want to do to you

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