The Mike Brady Architect Compensation Index

On “The Brady Bunch” Mike Brady was an architect that worked for some unnamed firm where Mr. Phillips was his boss. In the show, we saw that the firm’s office had wood paneling typically reserved for basement rec rooms and Mr. Philips was doing pretty good, because he made enough dough to afford a boat big enough to accommodate at least 9 guests, or maybe less a boat and more like a yacht.

Here’s the other thing, though. Mike was bringing home the bacon too. He was the sole earner in a house with a wife, a live-in housekeeper, 6 kids, a dog, a sedan, and a station wagon. On top of all that, he could afford to take the whole group on vacation to tropical destinations like Hawaii. Mike was about 38 at the time, and probably had around 15 years of experience, a common milestone for transitioning into middle management at a firm (but still not using your boss’s first name apparently).

It’s a noble goal indeed for all architects to be making that kind of cheddar and that led me to think about Mike’s earnings in today’s dollars. I think of this exercise as a new way to quantify what architects should be paid if Hollywood were in charge of the payrolls at design firms, and a fun spreadsheet to dork out on as well. 🤓 We’ll confer upon Mike the title of Senior Project Manager and use that tile as a point of reference for the ALL CAPS Mike Brady Architect Compensation Index™️.

I enjoy data analysis, and what I did for this one was quick and dirty, but that’s probably alright since if you were to precisely calculate for each variable in Mike’s enormous family enterprise it would take forever and be super boring number crunching (at least for me). So, with that in mind, here’s a summary of my approach. Let me know if you think there should be changes.

Raising children,
2 each: 8-yrs., 11-yrs., 15-yrs.
USDA’s 2015 analysis modified slightly, as
they didn’t extrapolate to 6 children,
but did find economies of scale when
multiple children were in a family.
Full time live-in housekeeperUsed an average from Home Advisor’s cost range
MortgageAssumed 2,500 SF in LA County and used
average price/SF in that area, then 80%
LTV, 30-yr. term, 3.92% APR, 0.59% taxes,
$2.2K insurance
UtilitiesUsed federal statisics on water electricity
usage combined with LA County rates,
added in typical costs for family phone
plan, streaming services, and internet
VehiclesUsed full-size sedan and station wagon
base model MSRPs, 80% LTV, 8% tax,
2.5% APR, 48-mo. term, $150/mo. ea. insurance
AdultsUsed Numbeo’s numbers for LA County
DogUsed average of multiple sources
SavingsAdded 5% onto total of expenses above
Taxes & Healthcare CoverageAdded 43% onto expenses and savings

…And Now, the Inaugural Index!

I’m no Kermit Baker, but look out AIA Compensation Report and Salary Calculator! Here’s what Mike would be making in today’s world:


I suppose we could continue this exercise with other TV architects: On “Family Ties” Elyse Keaton’s earnings may reinforce our findings, but on “How I Met Your Mother” Ted Mosby would almost certainly throw off TV architect earnings as it seems like he didn’t make as much, though it was still probably way more than a sole proprietor architect/college professor would earn in their twenties. Maybe those can be future updates to this article. Should we look at annual updates to adjust for inflation too?

Does your Compensation fall short on this new index? Might be time for a heart to heart with your Mr. Phillips. Bring him a nautical gift when you meet to help butter him up for a tough talk, I hear he likes boating.

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