During the downturn, architects said they were forced to lay off employees and retool their businesses to focus on the slim number of projects as the nation's housing market collapsed. Since then, they said, their businesses have picked up between 20 percent and 30 percent in billings.
"When the crash happened, it was like someone pulled the phone cord out of the wall and just turned the lights out here," said
The uptick in business in
The Architecture Billing Index is a monthly survey produced by the
Builders took out permits for 2,330 units in
But architects said making it through years of lower billing forced them to think of ways to adapt their business to the economic climate, and their changes have led to new business models moving forward.
"It was hard to do all of that, but I learned never to say no to a small project," said Paredes, whose firm specializes in residential. "Because those projects were what kept us above water a few years ago."
Paredes said that while her business was not as profitable as it was before the recession, she has seen a 25 percent jump in business since then, mostly by working on residential additions and remodeling existing homes.
Callahan said that because he is the only employee at his firm, he didn't have to reduce overhead, but instead used his time to revamp his company's website.
"It was something that I didn't have time to do before the challenging years, but because I had less jobs, I was able to focus on it," Callahan said. "I retooled myself from a marketing standpoint, and it's helping now that things are starting to look up."
Other firms said they took a different approach to weather the economic downturn.
Jones said while these projects don't add much to her bottom line, they acted as a way to increase the firm's exposure during a time when clients were not calling _ something any business whose industry is struggling can learn from.
"They helped fill in the void of work that was coming in and I was able to get a few projects from people I would meet,'' she said. "Plus, it's nice to work for the 'greater good' once in a while."
Architectural firm owners said over the past year that they have had more calls from
"I'm seeing an uptick now, and I get busy, in eight or nine months the projects I'm designing get built, which boosts the housing market," Callahan said. "Things aren't the way they were, but they are certainly looking better."
(c)2014 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
Visit The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) at www.NorthJersey.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services