- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 17 Nov 2023
Jon Clayton MCIAT, Chartered Architectural Technologist and founder of Architecture Business Club
 Introducing out Guest Editor
Jon Clayton MCIAT is a Chartered Architectural Technologist and the founder of Architecture Business Club. The weekly podcast for solo and small firm architecture business owners. Jon has worked in architecture for over two decades and runs his own design firm that specialises in home extension projects.
Jon’s mission is to help you build a better business on your terms. So if you're a sole practitioner (or small practice) architect, architectural technologist, or architectural designer, he wants to help you. Originally from Lancashire, Jon now lives with his family in Norfolk. Outside of work, he is a keen guitarist, kayaker, and avid movie trivia buff.
 Which are the news and articles you have selected and why ?
As an Architectural Technologist and sci-fi movie fan I’ve always had a fascination with new technology. AI is progressing faster than anyone could have imagined and I think most of us are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. I hope we can embrace it as a tool to help us do what we do more efficiently rather than fear the robots are taking over.
I’ve been a fan of Eric Reinholdt for many years. Not so much for his architecture design work (which is fantastic) but for his video content creation. His willingness to share his knowledge, processes, and resources if refreshing. It’s no wonder his 30x40 Design Workshop Youtube channel has over one million subscribers. Well done Eric.
Did I mention I love a bit of tech? I can remember the first time I heard about Virtual Reality. It was back in the 1990’s on a TV show called Gamesmaster and as a kid I found the idea of strapping a headset to my face and being transported to another world extremely exciting. We now have Virtual Reality readily accessible at a low price point. I’m excited to see how quickly architecture practices adopt this new technology, how it changes their design workflow, and how it impacts their client’s experience.
 Tell us a little about your background, activities and interest in buildings?
I first got interested in architecture at secondary school. My strongest subjects were IT and technical drawing so something ‘architecture related’ seemed like an obvious career choice. I was put off by the length of training to become an Architect and also by the professions leaning towards art over technology. Then I discovered other routes into the industry that better suited my technical skills. So I decided to pursue a career in architectural technology.
My first role was as a trainee architectural technician at a traditional local practice. It was a great foundation for me whilst I continued my education on a part-time basis. I went on to work at several other practices in the UK and had the opportunity to work in two Australian practices during one of my backpacking trips. I became a chartered member of CIAT and worked on design projects in sectors such as education, healthcare, housing, and retail.
I started my own architectural design business as a side hustle. So specialising in smaller, domestic projects made sense to me. I’ve always enjoyed working on home renovation and extension projects. They are varied, interesting and it doesn’t take too long to see the end result. After 18-months my side hustle practice became my full time role. That was in 2014 and I’ve continued to work on domestic design projects ever since.
Traditional qualifications teach us how to design buildings but don’t teach the skills required to run an architectural firm. And that is something that many professionals will want to do during their career. So developing skills like communicating effectively, chairing meetings, sales, marketing, and financial management is very important.
A new knowledge gap has opened up since the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 which is making many professionals feel anxious. There is a lack of understanding about this legislation and how it will affect day-to-day practice. There was the same confusion amongst my peers when the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 came into force. I hope in time there are more resources and guidance available to us so that all duty holders are clear of their responsibilities and how to discharge them.
 Is there value in sharing knowledge across disciplines and institutions?
Absolutely. One of my core beliefs is in sharing knowledge so I see huge value in this. I believe if everyone was open to sharing what they know we could all benefit and improve the industry as a whole. I think there is a lot of division in the industry. If institutes like RIBA, CIAT, and CIOB (and their members) collaborated more we would certainly all benefit.
One of the main barriers is a mindset issue around competition. Most people see others in their industry as competitors. But there is far more to be gained from collaborating with other firms than competing with each other. You can share knowledge, resources, and support each other to fast track your success. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.
My belief in sharing knowledge across disciplines is one of the main reasons I started my podcast, Architecture Business Club. I aim to bring together the different professions within architecture and provide a platform where we can share our knowledge and experiences so we can all benefit.
I think that often people are comfortable sharing some of the things have worked, but also its good to share some things that maybe didn’t go as planned. To some extent that is where we learn by sharing, but it’s not always easy, it’s about having honest conversations, and I think that is an element I want to achieve from the podcast.
 How did you first discover Designign Buildings, have you posted an article and if not what stops you?
I am pretty sure I discovered Designing Buildings when I was putting together my application to become a chartered member of CIAT back in 2016. One area I was weak in was contract administration. So I needed to do quite a bit of research into building contracts. I started that research online and found Designing Buildings to be a useful resource. I don’t have an account yet. As the articles are publicly available I guess at the time I didn’t see the need to join. I can certainly see the benefit in posting articles now. It’s a great way to share what you know and raise your own profile at the same time. It’s a win-win.
I don’t really have a favourite era or style of building. I run a client-focused architecture practice. So my designs are tailored to suit the needs and tastes of my clients. I don’t have a signature style as such, but given a choice, I favour simple, modern, building design.
Ironically, my favourite buildings that spring to mind are anything but modern. I love Customs House, a grade I listed building in King’s Lynn. That’s my favourite building in West Norfolk, where I currently live. The other building that springs to mind is Ashton Memorial, a grade I listed folly in Lancaster. When my family and I drive back to Lancashire to visit my parents, it’s the first local landmark I see as we drive up the M6. And it reminds me that I’m back home again.
 Sole Practitioners
Other than that my podcast will obviously relate to buildings, or at least the nature of running a business that relates to design and construction, that is something that continues to interest me. The reality for most of us small business owners, whether that's architecture or anything else is that it's hard, it's really hard and as a sole practitioner it can be tough doing it on your own.
If you've gone from working in a practice, where you've had co-workers to bounce ideas off, a team spirit, or sounding board its very different. It’s something I struggled with when I set off with my own business some 12 years ago. I found ways to fill the gaps, and networking is one, but it took me a while to put myself out there, partly because there is the element of drumming up and you don’t want to thrust your business cards in everyone's hands, selling services. There’s a mindset change that happened to go just meet people, bounce ideas around and maybe see if opportunities come out of it, that’s a different way of approaching networking.
So these are in a way technical areas but broad ones, from social media strategy to personal branding or how to keep on top of your finances, price your services, the basics of bookkeeping, these are different areas of technical expertise that are relevant to running a business. Once you start delving in there are actually so many different related topics to, some of these I hope to bring in to the podcast at various points.
In the first few episodes that will be going out we've got somebody coming in from a software platform for the architecture industry that helps people to find reliable building contractors, I've got somebody coming to discuss how to improve price and position. We've got other guests lined up including a practice owner, talking about his experience of being coached and the impact personally. We've a specialist coming on to talk about personal branding, someone talking specifically about LinkedIn and leveraging the platform. These will be interjected by sessions with me, where I hope to get feedback from listeners to help steer the next technical themes, see what resonates with a listeners.
 Would you like to nominate someone for the guest editor slot?
 A little feedback on the experience of being our guest editor
- Architectural technologist.
- Building Safety Act 2022.
- Business models in construction.
- Business plan.
- Chartered architectural technologist.
- Constructive Voices podcasts.
- Contract administrator for construction contracts.
- Guest editor articles.
- IHBC COP26 podcasts.
- Podcast launched by Chartered Architectural Technologist.
- Types of consultant in the construction industry.
- Virtual reality in construction.
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