Every project is unique, in one way or another, which results in a fee proposal to match. Generally speaking, I consider the following criteria when creating a fee estimate:
Quite possibly this is the biggest deciding factor within a project. As your Architect we need to know your budget, not only to assess the feasibility of your project, but to align your expectations with your budget. You would be surprised how many people are overly optimistic when it comes to their budget. For more information on Project budgets and costs, refer our blog ‘What does it cost to build on Victoria’s Surf Coast’.
Typically, the bigger the project, the bigger the cost. Unfortunately, during the preliminary stages of a project, we are sometimes not fortunate enough to know the size (m2) of the project. However, should we be in the position to have a fair indication of size, this can be a major help for estimating the Architect’s fees.
Will Town Planning be required? If you are within the realm of the Surf Coast Shire or the Colac-Otway Shire chances are, you will. Town planning costs are assessed purely on the project’s nature and level of difficulty. The more difficult the project (Town Planning wise), the greater the cost. Majority of the time this phase is engaged on a time-charge / hourly rate basis, especially for the more difficult projects.
Where is the project located? Being a practice that is semi-rural, we are accustomed to driving long distances for projects. We account for this in our fees accordingly, however this can vary dependant on the ‘level of service’ that will be required, ultimately affecting the time required out on site.
Degree of Difficulty
Are we building a factory or the Taj Mahal? Is the site a flat rural property with minimal planning implications or a critical site on the edge of a cliff with breath taking views and planning implications to match? The degree of difficulty of the project has a direct effect on labour and man hours required to produce an outcome.
Level of Service / Involvement
Believe it or not, for all the new comers out there interested in engaging an Architect, we do more than ‘draw up a set of plans’. If you are unsure of our services, refer our blog ‘What to Expect from your Architect’. In a nut shell, how much of our services will you require? Full services? Partial? Again, drawing back to the man hours, the more you require, the greater the cost. However, something to consider, cutting back the Architect’s involvement in the project may trim the fee, but may be costly in the long run due to rectifying mistakes and mishaps, potentially winding up with an unfavourable result.
The Tricky Part
Some folk tend to believe that an Architect’s fee can be somewhat illusive, but I am here to illustrate that our fees our most certainly tangible. Usually the most difficult part for an Architect proposing a fee estimate is when we head out on site to meet the client for the initial meeting and the client says “We want to build an extension, we don’t know what our budget is and we don’t really know what we want, what would we be looking at cost wise?”
Trying to cough up a fixed fee price with such an unknown in the equation is quite risky, therefore it is our job to try and define what it is that requires pricing. I usually combat this uncertain debacle with a time charge/hourly rate and agreed number of hours, periodically reviewing the progress until a point is reached where the project has something to base a fee proposal from. This generally takes the project through the Pre-Design + Concept Design Phase.
We would like to engage Alex English Architects but we didn’t want to spend that much
I will always do my best with price, but will not sacrifice quality of work in order to get another job on the books. The best solution to those potential ‘budget conscious’ clients is to reduce the ‘level of services’ included. I will look over your entire project, and suggest where my skill set is best implemented and will have the best impact. This is generally focussed towards the design side of the project, as correctly laying the foundation of the project is to set it up for the best chance of success. Refer to our blog ‘Do I Really Need An Architect?’ to brush up on the value Architects can bring to your project.
On another note which often occurs, should you be seeking a number of fee proposals from other Architects and Designers, please be aware of comparing quotes and fees in a level playing field. Should you be comparing two Architect’s fee proposals, ensure that both Architects are of similar calibre before trying to have the more expensive quote match the cheaper. Furthermore, should you be comparing a drafting service to a registered Architect, you should also be aware you are not comparing apples with apples.
So, how much does it cost to use Alex English Architects?
You may have heard along the grapevine somewhere that Architects charge 10% of the construction cost. This is still relevant today, to some degree, but should be taken with a grain of salt. The percentage fee structure is variable and proportional to the project size and nature. Smaller projects can require around the same, if not more work. Therefore, higher percentages can be expected for smaller construction budgets. For a construction budget of $800,000, my fee would constitute approximately 12-15% for FULL SERVICES. The higher the budget, the lower the percentage (as a rule of thumb). A major downfall of using the percentage fee structure is that should the construction budget rise, so does the fee, and rightfully so, as the project brief grows, so does the work involved. However, the real chink in the armour here is that clients can become seriously suspicious that their Architect is purposely upselling their project to reap a greater fee. This is the last thing I want my clients thinking when we are in the mix of design development.
Therefore, in response I generally structure my fee proposals as a hybrid:
I am confident to employ a fixed fee approach to the remainder of the project, as the initial stages (under the time charge / hourly rate structure) would have indicated sufficient information to propose a FAIR fixed fee structure.
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