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Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am finding more and more that I need some extra cash at the end of the moth to pay my ever increasing bills.

Do any of you here moonlight? Do you write specs on the side or do other consulting? How do you hide it from your boss?


(This is proabaly one of the few times that Anonymous postings are encouraged.)
Doug Brinley AIA CSI CDT CCS
Senior Member
Username: dbrinley

Post Number: 126
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Um, many people aren't paying attention to the fact that fuel prices have increased by a third in the past year, and food, and many other essentials have increased significantly. So, before you moonlight it is probably a good idea to point out to your employer that your income doesn't buy what it used to. Particularly if you have children.

So, no I never moonlight. When projects come to me I bring them into the office.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 138
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

You should verify your employer's policy on this subject.

Most of the firms I have worked for over the last 25 years have standing policies against moonlighting. The rationale is that some liability may accrue to the firm for the actions of an employee who is freelancing because of their employed status or because some of the firm's resources may be used. I have never heard of such a policy stopping someone who was in your situation.

On the other hand, there are a few firms who see the value of an employee getting a broader experience and actually encourage it.

I have been approached from time to time about doing some freelancing; however, these approaches have usually happened when I have more than enough on my plate anyway.
Richard L Matteo, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rlmat

Post Number: 119
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:22 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have to agree with Peter. I have had opportunities to moonlight over the years and always turn them down.
One of the partners in my firm back east told me of a situation where someone actually did try to sue them over the actions of one of their employees acting on his own.

They also had a specific company policy against moonlighting and even requested one employee not to use their computer to produce drawings of his own house that he was building!

If you need to work a second job I would suggest looking at something not related to your work.

All of the firms I have worked for, including my current one, have a similar policy against moonlighting.
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

There are several things you can do for supplemental income that are related to your work but which do not compete with your employer's interests.

Consider writing articles on design issues you know about and submitting them to magazines. If they are well-written, they could bring you additional income and your firm some marketing points.

You might also discuss the possibility of writing specifications for manufacturers - business that your design firm does not do and would not regard as a threat.

In any case, you should discuss these things openly with your employer. Showing a little honest ambition may prompt your boss to take some favorable action on your behalf.
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 01:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have moonlighted and currently do, mainly as means to establish an eventual consulting practice of my own. I'm not sure if my employer knows or not (there's no policy against it), but some of the employees do know.

Whether my employer is concerned about the liability issue or not, I am. So, I've taken extreme precautions to separate my personal business from the firm's.

My personal business is limited to consulting on technical issues (specs, codes, and QA reviews), which my employer wouldn't do unless it was for its own projects. Therefore, I'm not really competing for fees with my employer.

As I stated above, moonlighting is my way of gradually establishing my own consulting business. That way, I don't have the big financial gap between the end of my firm employment and getting that first paycheck from my first client.
David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 557
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 02:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Every employer that I have worked for has had strict anti-moonlighting policies. That said I have sometimes done a bit of moonlighting myself. Mostly these were architectural drawings for friends and family. (I hope my boss is not lurking on this forum.)

Anyhow, one office policy manual I read said something like, "Moonlighting is strictly prohibited. If you don't have enough work to do come see us and we will give you more work." Yeah but will the company give the staff more money for that additional work? Probably not.

I too would like to find "additional revenue streams" to supplement my income. So keep those ideas coming!

Doug thanks for the tip about cost of living increase. I will use that fact at my next yearly review.
Doug Brinley AIA CSI CDT CCS
Senior Member
Username: dbrinley

Post Number: 127
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Yeah, the politicos would have us believe we're not in inflationary times. Our cost estimates for projects beginning within 12 months have increased more in 2004/05 than the last six years combined.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 139
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 02:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

A little over 20 years ago, when I was working for a firm in Honolulu, I took a phone call from a jobsite about a particular problem they were having. This was not too unusual; the firm usually had me deal with projects orphaned by folks leaving the company. The man identified the project, but it did not ring a bell. I scanned the active job list and did not see it on our list. The man insisted it was our project since the Drawings carried our title block, but when I pressed him for more details and a project number, he hung up.

Mmmmm... I am not absolutely sure that it had to do with moonlighting, but it sure seemed like it. Whoever had done the work had filched velum with out title block on it and had been too lazy (or too stupid) to cut it off.

Never heard anything else about the project; have to assume that the contractor realized what he was dealing with and left the firm alone. Had there been serious problems on the job, this act of petty theft could have pulled us into some unwanted legal liability.

If you are going to moonlight, keep your stuff as separate from your boss's as possible, and make sure there aren't any electronic tracks on the files you create.
David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 558
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 02:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


I am amazed that anyone would be so stupid as to use company supplies for the moonlighting jobs. They deserve to get caught.

Anyhow, preventing your employees from moonlighting isn't that "restraint of trade"?

A good friend of mine always moonlights. The extra money is nice, but the main reason he moonlights is for a creative outlet. He works at a large firm and is pigeon holed. He essentially drawings toilet partitions all day. At home he designs beautiful custom homes. I guess I would say that his day job is to feed his family and his night job is to feed his sole.
Marc C Chavez
Senior Member
Username: mchavez

Post Number: 136
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 02:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

No it's not restraint of trade, Not even close.
Dave Metzger
Senior Member
Username: davemetzger

Post Number: 139
Registered: 07-2001
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 03:05 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Feed his "sole"???

Who "foots" the bill for that???
Anne Whitacre, CCS CSI
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 255
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 03:11 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

doesn't the shoe repair shop "feed your sole"?

when I transitioned to my existing firm 7 years ago, my employment contract specifically said that I could continue to do work "for existing" clients but could not take on new clients for spec consulting. Those existing clients withered away; I think the problem is that when you do work on a "real" enough project, you need to be available during the day when its being constructed, and when everyone else is working on it too. Its one things to do the specs (or drawings) at night, but its another thing to have 10 phone calls a day regarding the project under construction -- and that is something an employer could very legitimately complain about.

that being said, on the spec side, there are some things that are not project related that can be done: consult to manufacturers; provide 3-party review for limited service and fee; or write for publications.
William Wagner
Senior Member
Username: bill_black

Post Number: 9
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 05:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Become an independant contractor. This is how I work now. I work for firms--I write specs and other technical writing--I do development management. Most of the firms that I work for know exactly what I do. If I am in a firm during the day and take phone calls on other projects, I just don't charge them. No conflict of interest. (Mind you I am single and work like a dog.) The great thing about this is I have a diverse set of experience and have been able to find things that match my skill set, so in a couple years I can open a consulting that suits my abilities. (If anyone needs a good development manager in a couple years...)
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 04:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Isn't that why it's called "moonlighting", with the express purpose of not telling your boss?

And besides, to the extent that it doesn't affect regular job (i.e., day phone calls, use of company resources, etc.), what right does any employer have in dictating what you do on your own time?
David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 559
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005 - 07:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


That's what I meant by restraint of trade. Does that mean that my boss can demand that I not sell art, birdhouses, cosmetics or Amway? What about if I write novels in my spare time?

Unless there is an obvious connection to the firm (like using company letterhead) I don't know how a firm could be held liable for what a person does in their spare time.
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
Senior Member
Username: markgilligan

Post Number: 37
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Saturday, October 01, 2005 - 02:58 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

An employer has two valid concerns:

First there is a legal precedent where an Architect or Engineer was held liable for professional liability of an employee that was moonlighting. The argument was that the employer benefited and encouraged the moonlighting since as a result the employee accepted a lower salary. As a result many firms made moonlighting grounds for termination.

Second many firms have a policy where they state that the employee will not have any outside employment even if it is not competing with the employer. The concern is that if you have another job on the side you will likely be distracted or fatigued as a result of the other job, and thus not able to give your full attention to your employer during business hours. The question is not that you get the job done but rather that you are not giving a full effort.

When transitioning from being self employed to being employed by a firm I found it impossible not to have to deal with personal business during normal working hours. In addition the extra hours did not help my efficiency at my day job. Thus I believe that the employer has a legitimate concern.

It is my understanding that these policies are perfectly legal.

In some cases as part of your employment agreement you may agree not to work for a direct competitor after you leave the firm. There are some limitations but when properly applied these agreements are legal and enforceable. Microsoft recently enforced such an agreement when one of its senior people left and joined a competitor. This was in the newspaper.

One additional problem with moonlighting is that the moonlighter inevitably accepts a lower fee than a full time firm would thus undercutting the fee structure in the area. Thus if you must moonlight I would recommend that you charge full fees. The problem with this is that most of the clients hiring moonlighters do so because of the lower fee structure thus making it harder for firms to pay us what we are worth.

For the record I am not a member of management.
Anne Whitacre, CCS CSI
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 256
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Sunday, October 02, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The building of birdhouses clearly is not relevant to this issue. The provision of architectural services entails the acceptance of liability and there have been a few cases where if the moonlighting employee doesn't have their own liability insurance, their employer's policy has been attached -- using any number of legal strategies to do that. In this case, there is a out-of-pocket cost to the employer (legal fees, time lost, higher premiums), and not simply because of ineffecient employees. Most office liability policies have strict "no moonlighting" provisions in them and if that is breached, it can endanger the entire firm policy.

and yes, when I was consulting, I often had as my fee competition someone who was moonlighting from a local firm -- and of course, I could never win on fees in those cases.

as for the friend who moonlights to feed his soul -- sounds like he needs to work for a different firm.
Brett M. Wilbur CSI, CDT, AIA
Senior Member
Username: brett

Post Number: 67
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, October 03, 2005 - 10:10 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Most projects, though not all, require building permits. When are the permit departments open? During working hours. So you are taking time off of work to go deal with that one issue. Probably lying to your boss. Maybe you try to do it at lunch? Maybe you have to meet with a contractor. When do they work? Not during moonlit hours. Anyway, the point is, sometime during the course of your "moonlighting" project, you will have to take away from your daytime job - time, money, supplies, phone calls, whatever.

Can you truly separate the two?

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