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    • Total posts: 10

    Hi all

    First time here.

    Quick intro … but long post ( I apologise in advance).

    I live in Altona, Melbourne … been there since 2006 (after moving from NZ with my wife).

    My goal for most of my life was to be a Building Designer, and after a few wrong turns and many years of part-time study, I will be gaining my Adv. Dip in Building Design in the next few weeks (if my TAFE can sort out the admin … but that’s a different story).

    In 2010 I was given an opportunity to become a sessional tutor at the same TAFE. I accepted this chance (1 night a week).

    Each year I was offered more classes (which was lucky as I was made redundant), and I now I deliver 18 hours a week for this TAFE, plus another 10 hours a week at another TAFE. All sessional work.

    On top of THAT, I also do private tutoring for Building Design and Architectural software … and this plugs some gaps.

    I enjoy teaching and tutoring and am very proud to say that I get very good feedback from most of my students.

    Here’s my conundrum. I do far more tutoring than I do building design. I also have a young family and I’m not sure if I want the stress of a full design office. Life is also quite stressful as a sessional tutor. I literally do not know from one semester to the next how many hours I will teach and I have to endure nearly all of summer (and school holidays) with no income. After 4 years (even though I enjoy it) … I either want a permanent position or better security/income.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe redirecting my business into a couple of directions or combining both. Both of which take the positive aspects of what I already do.

    1. Building Design in the purest sense. i.e. provide sustainable design solutions for clients, get town-planning permits for them etc before the client handballs the design for building permit drawings by a registered designer. Biggest positive = I get to design and innovate. Biggest Negative = most registered designers offer full design solutions anyway (how to compete with that in a very tight market).

    2. Tutoring Services. Offer tutoring (either 1-on-1 or run short courses) for students or businesses. I teach 2 software packages (and currently training in more) that are key to the industry, and there is potential to offer training to the west of Melbourne (and beyond). The only private training providers in Victoria (outside of RTO’s) are located in the CBD or Mt Waverly in Melbourne.

    I know it’s a long story, but my query overall is fairly short.

    Is it worth trying to pursue both of these ideas under one business package and, if so, what would be a good way to do it (and what are some risks/costs etc that I probably am not aware of)? Also, what would be a good way of doing the initial set-up whilst minimising outlay where possible and practica (I know there are costs involved … not expecting a free ride).

    Any advice would be appreciated. My wife keeps telling me to make a choice and stick with it, but it’s hard without either the offer of permanent work or those pieces of paper called qualifications that allow one to pursue registration.

    Apologies again for the long story.

    • Total posts: 11,464

    Hi rdavies1973,

    Welcome to Flying Solo, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

    We have some very experienced folk from the building industry around here, and I have my fingers crossed that they’ll pop in and help you brainstorm some of your ideas.

    In the meantime, congratulations on getting your Advanced Diploma – it sounds like it’s been a massive achievement!

    Looking forward to getting to know you,

    • Total posts: 1,691

    Welcome to the forum.

    Here’s my take.

    Design studios are a dime a dozen, you’ll need to be able to really stand out to create a secure business. Without registration it’ll be even harder, so I’d agree the risk is high going down that track.

    Software (and training generally) offers real possibilities in my opinion. I don’t know what sort of packages you teach, but it’s definitely a growth area in Construction, and currently a bit of a dog’s breakfast the way both are applied.

    I’ve seen massive changes in the industry in recent years, everyone knows they have to go digital to compete. But apart from the top tier guy’s it’s a mess, and prehistoric in implementation compared to other industries.

    After 40 + years in the industry, that’d be my pick for a business opportunity. I’d be exploring it beyond just one on one tutoring as well.

    Maybe design as a sideline, I’m sure you’d make connections through the software. Slowly build that side till you see if you can get any traction then make a transition if you want.

    On the financial “security” side, I think you’re just going to have to suck it up. The building industry makes your session work look like a full time gig in the public service IMO. Best solution to securing it better is to expand your client base in something you already know has a demand that you can deliver at minimal capital risk.

    Good luck with it, regardless of direction.


    • Total posts: 254

    Hello rdavies1973,

    Welcome to the forums.

    I reckon that Estim8 fella has covered most things but let’s see:

    Are you thinking of registering soon? Recent history suggests that requirements for registration anywhere in the building industry are only likely to increase.

    If you are already digital in the building industry then you are already ahead. Perhaps there are opportunities out side of RTO’s such as private tutoring of individual builders or offering your services through the Building Associations.

    You mentioned that “most registered designers offer full design solutions anyway (how to compete with that in a very tight market).” So what are the rest already doing to survive or thrive? Is there a business model there for you to copy so you don’t have to compete?

    I think you’ll find that many people in business started off by working full or part time while they built their business so that it becomes more like a process than a decision.

    Whatever you decide we hope you’ll stick around and let us know how you go. There’s also plenty to learn around here that might help you.

    All best,


    • Total posts: 10

    To Lindz, estim8, and Jayne

    Thank you for the warm welcome and practical advice.

    Lindz … my goal was to begin the registration process with the Victorian Building Authority this year … but my TAFE has proven (once again) that they are fairly hopeless when it comes to admin and processing applications to qualify. The registration process also gets harder from 1 July as architects will have to be registered under the same umbrella as Building Designers (the Victorian Building Authority). So … on top of the high costs of insurance etc, the bar has been raised significantly. That’s not a bad thing as I personally believe the industry needs a wake-up call … but the timing sucks for me.

    Estim8 … yup, even sessional work in TAE is more secure than design work. At least education requirements are fairly predictable … unlike the ‘feast or famine’ life in the Building Industry.

    I will take your advice and discuss with the better half, but it sounds like the logical step would be to set up as a training company first … with design as an offshoot where I can either pick or choose (or sub-contract work out).

    Thanks again … no doubt I’m going to have more questions later.

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