You may have seen several places on this site where we mention the waitlist, but what exactly does that mean? Here, you can read about the particulars of the waitlist and learn why and how we do it this way.
When I first started this business in 2009, I didn't always have steady work. It takes time for a business of this nature to become known and I also had a lot to learn as a drafter and as a designer. I envisioned a day sometime in the future where I'd be able to pick and choose my projects. Well, that day is here . . .sort of. While we don't currently pick and choose projects (that day may come before too long), we do have a wait list. After those early years of having work when there was work and busying myself with other things when there wasn't, work slowly got more and more steady over the years. At times I would be finishing a project or two and not have another lined up behind it and I would start to panic . . .what if another project doesn't come in and that's it? This is my last project and no one will ever call me again and that's it I'm done??? Oh boy does that seem silly now! My family and friends would assure me that another project would come in and that I wasn't finished. And sure enough, they were right and another would come in before too long.
Sometimes I would have my hands pretty full with projects in and I'd get a call from someone. I'd let them know it would be maybe a couple of months, that was fine with them, I would put it on my calendar and set a reminder. When I got to it I'd touch base with them, get them set up and started, and that was that.
Then I started getting a few clients who really didn't want to wait. I naturally have a difficult time saying no (natural people pleaser here) and they would, in effect, talk me into starting their project very soon because it "really was very simple", "they didn't need a lot of detail", and "it shouldn't take too much time". Well, at one point I let myself be talked into having SEVEN projects in at once. For one person. And I was completely overwhelmed, pulling my hair out, and just quite frankly hardly able to keep up. And NOT enjoying it one bit at all. That was far too much at one time.
So I started turning people away. I'd let them know it was going to be several months before I'd be able to get to their project and I'd basically recommend they find someone else. At some point I started telling people to reach out to me as far in advance as possible. That I'd love it if they'd reach out to me a year or more before they actually planned to get started. That helped out a lot, but still left me turning people away.
At some point I had so many people I was supposed to be getting in touch with that I know I missed a few. I failed to put a phone number with a note, then couldn't find it . . .things like that. I felt terrible because that's not very professional and it's just not how I like to do business.
So when the calls coming in just became far too much to keep up with using my old system, and I really started having plenty of clients who were reaching out to me early and didn't mind waiting, I had to come up with a new system.
And that's how The Waitlist was born.
It started out as a simple list of projects jotted down on an index card taped to my office wall (ask anyone who's been here . . .I'm really bad (or really good??) about taping things on my wall! There was a list and I could keep up with it, and it was manageable enough that I could look at a name and know off the top of my head how that person had contacted me and remember details about their project. If it had come from facebook, a phone call, my contact us page on this site, a direct e-mail, etc. Over time I've refined it a bit more into the system I use today.
Limits on Work Load
Over time I have really learned a lot about myself and about the amount of work I'm able to comfortably handle at any given time. I certainly don't mind having times where I have to work a little harder and a little longer, but I also choose not to allow myself to be overworked all the time. It's not healthy for me, for my family, or for my business. When I stay overworked I reach a point where I don't enjoy it and I don't do as good a job for my clients. This is a very unique line of work that is very demanding mentally. I know myself and that to stay in top form for you I have to keep that workload manageable and I also have breaks built into my calendar so I can rest, recharge, and come back ready to go again! I absolutely LOVE what I do, and while this is still work, I know if I go extended periods of time hating my job I'm doing something wrong. Usually that's simply because of too many projects at one time and I'm spreading myself too thin.
At the beginning of 2018 I employed a strict policy of only three projects in at a time. As much as I tried to stick with that, there were circumstances throughout the year that I didn't anticipate and I ended up with more like 5 projects at the end of the year. Along with loads of pressure and stress. And not a whole lot of joy.
So for the beginning of 2019, I refined a bit further and this is where we are today:
Slots Available for Projects
I'm still allowing only three projects in at a time, but I've broken those three slots down to specific types of projects. Most of our projects are larger new construction projects and they fill two of the three slots. The third slot is reserved for smaller projects like basic plans, and smaller remodels and additions. I'm doing it this way so if you have a project that is going to take only 2-3 weeks to complete you don't have to wait 2-3 months (or much longer) to come in and get started. I'm really working to get those smaller projects in and out the door much more quickly than what has been possible in the past. If we happen to not have any smaller projects at any given time I will still only keep two larger projects in at a time and they should just move more quickly.
Project Time Frames
This is one of the biggest factors in clients choosing to work with Building 313 or not. We completely understand that this is a very important factor, but it's also one that is nearly impossible to predict with any level of accuracy.
For a typical, detailed, new construction home we prefer to keep the time frame to around 3-6 months in. That is time spent designing your home and preparing your construction documents. Additions and remodels vary in time in mostly depending on the size of the project. Some larger whole home remodels that are very detailed we will treat more like a new construction project and stay in one of those slots for larger projects. However, smaller additions and remodels can move very quickly at times. Basic plans can very often be completed in a 2-3 week time frame or possibly faster if there is no design work to be done and a very low level of detail.
It's very important to note these are very general time frames and not all projects fall into these. Every project is very different and, more importantly, every client is very different. A huge factor in the time frame for a project lies directly with the client. We ask that you can get back to us with feedback in a timely manner, which we consider to be approximately 48 hours. We understand that sometimes things happen, but if a client consistently takes a very long time to get back with us, the project can drag on to an uncomfortably long time. The other biggest factor with this is how decisive or indecisive you are. When clients are very indecisive, make frequent major changes, or have to see a very high level of detail to be able to make a decision about a given space it can make the project drag out for an extremely long time. The above listed time frames are considering ideal circumstances where clients are generally fairly decisive and reply back to us with feedback and answering questions within a reasonable amount of time. When this happens, the project moves along at a nice pace and everybody tends to stay happy!
Waitlist Time Frames
So why did I explain all that when we're talking about the waitlist here? Well, because the amount of time a given project sits on the waitlist is directly proportional to the amount of time the current projects are in.
And that's something I just cannot predict.
If you've talked to me lately (quite a lot of people have) and have been interested in getting on our waitlist, you've probably also asked me how long you can expect to sit there waiting for me to get to your project. And I have responded that I have no idea. And I'm really sorry about that. And I completely respect if you don't want to hang around and wait not knowing how long it might take and if you want to go find someone else.
If you're near the top of the list it's much easier to pinpoint. However, if there are a half a dozen people in front of you I really don't know. And if I tell you a certain amount of time I am very most likely to be making a liar out of myself, so I just refuse to give an actual time estimate.
It's a perfectly imperfect science and here's why: While times can be pushed back by current projects in moving very slowly, sometimes a project can jump up several spots on the list very quickly. Why? Well, I try to keep tabs on the list as much as I can, but I'm typically super focused on the projects that are in and getting them taken care of. I generally try to go down through the list every several months and update it. It can be a little time consuming to go down through the entire thing. And sadly, people aren't always adept at keeping me in the loop. What happens sometimes is someone will ask to be placed on my waitlist and then for any number of reasons they are no longer going to need our services. I ask when placing people on there to please let me know if for any reason they need to be removed from the list. However, people rarely do that. So I have stay on top of it and somewhat chase people down. Honestly, I'm sure sometimes people just flake out and they don't realize (or don't care) that they are holding a spot on the list and that someone else is trying to make a major life decision based upon them being on the list. And that's really sometime I cannot control. All I can do is keep going through the list and keep it as updated as is possible. I used to feel the need to leave people on the list for about a year before I pull them (if I can't reach them). However, that's going to have to be cut down drastically. Communication is such a massively important component of this process that if I reach out to someone a couple of times and they don't respond, I have to assume that they're no longer interested. Or that they're just not great at keeping up with responding and that is going to become an issue later if they do work with us anyway.
Yet one more issue that can affect it is when I have folks who are AWESOME and really do reach out to me very early. Some folks reach out to me a couple years or more before they're actually ready to start. They just want to ensure that I'll be ready for them when they're ready. And that's great. So someone literally might be sitting at the top of the list and I know that they're not coming in to start for another year or more. I'm not moving them down on the list or off of it, b/c they did what they were supposed to do and reached out early. I know what they're doing and they will sit there until they're ready to start or want to be removed. But it does mean that any other person looking at the number of projects sitting on the list at any given time is not going to get a good picture of the time frame. You can't just go, oh 6 projects times three months each times two slots in . . .that will be 9 months. It's so much more difficult than that to gauge.
So all that is to explain that until you get up near the top of the list I can't give you a good estimate at all. And I'll say it again: I'm really sorry about that and I promise I'm doing the best I can over here. I completely respect if you can't wait and want to find someone else.
That generally leads folks to ask me for recommendations for someone else. Well, here's the deal: There's not anyone else.
There ARE other drafters in my area for sure. And some of them are really great. Some of them are really fast. And some of them have really reasonable prices. And many, many folks have been completely thrilled with their services and will recommend them time and time again. However, there's no one else I know of in my entire state that does what we do how we do it.
If you really want to work with us because you absolutely admire the way we work, that is fabulous and I'm seriously flattered! You just might have to be willing to wait a bit. Or longer than a bit. Sometimes it's either that or switch to a different service. And that leads us to the next topic . . .
So if I absolutely can't wait what the heck am I supposed to do?
If you absolutely can't wait and if you can live without that high level of detail, I strongly suggest you go with our Basic Plans. These projects can be completed much more quickly in the first place, but since I'm keeping this one project slot open for faster projects, at any given time it's my goal that I should be able to get you in right away or very soon. My intention for that is to not have anyone having to wait longer than a month. That doesn't mean it's guaranteed, because we come back to the fact that I cannot control clients. I might be moving very quickly on a project and the client is moving like molasses. I do try to make it clear that the fast moving slot is for fast moving projects.
If you really wanted to work with Building 313 and you can't (or don't want to wait), this is something you can do to avoid having to hunt around elsewhere. It's a product that is going to be more comparable to what you would get using someone else, but it also opens you up to the possibility of us being able to help with some details later on down the road.
Say you opt to switch to Basic Plans, but really wanted to have us design your kitchen . . .we can take care of your project and then you can come back in a little later on to have us do your kitchen. It would be billed separately, BUT it would be faster and cheaper than a typical kitchen remodel since we'd already have your home modeled in the computer and most likely have the basic layout figured out. So you do still have some options.
I Want On The List!!!
If you're reading this and you desperately want to get on that list because you really want to work with us for Detailed Custom Plans or Full Custom Plans and you don't want to miss out, please go to our contact us page and reach out. Tell us a little bit about your project and it would be great if you could include your desired time frame. We will set up a time to chat on the phone to learn a little more about your project and give you a chance to ask questions. We do have qualifications for getting on the waitlist simply to ensure the list stays as accurate as possible. Things such as you really plan on building and you'll be ready to go when we are. I also like to give "homework" so you can be researching a few things between now and getting started that will help you be better prepared and the more prepared you are the more smoothly the process goes. :)