Whenever you begin a new construction project, cost is going to be at the forefront of your mind. There are the materials, the contractor, and, for many projects, the architect. If an architect seems like too expensive a service, or even unnecessary, we can help demystify the fee schedule. We can also explain the costs you would incur by not hiring an architect.

Architects charge for services in one of several ways. The most popular fee structure is to charge a percentage of the total construction costs. Other approaches are charging by the hour or per square foot. Either way, the design of your project is going to cost more the larger and more complex it is.

Projects that architects are necessary for range widely in complexity. The most basic project might be a parking structure or a utility building. The possibilities then become increasingly more complex, including apartment buildings and offices to gymnasiums and theatres. The most complicated project out there, though, is the custom built home.

The percentage of construction costs charged runs between eight and 20% depending on the project. Full design services for a custom new home will likely be in range of twelve to fourteen percent. Renovations to a home could warrant a higher percentage. Because they deal with existing conditions, renovations can be more complicated than building something new.

All this sounds pretty pricey. Wondering why you would need an architect at all? Let’s explore the scope of what an architect does for you. If you’re building a new home, for example, you’ll want at very least the basic services. These include pre-design, design concepts, design development, construction documents, and construction contract oversight.

Pre-design involves researching the project, establishing goals, identifying strategies, and determining what all is needed to complete the plan. In other words it is the architect working with the client to create a playbook for the designing of the project. This phase of the project constitutes roughly 10% of the architect’s fees.

In the design concept phase, the architect works with the client to create preliminary design sketches and concepts based on the client’s requirements and budget. Doing this helps the architect illustrate possible options, and then go over the pros and cons of each option with the client. Once a design is chosen, additional detail can be added in the design development phase. You can expect this phase to be around 15% of the architect’s fees.

Working drawings and specifications are finalized in the design development and construction documents phases. Approximately 55% of the architect’s fees come from this stage. These construction documents are used both to obtain building permits from local municipalities and also to solicit bids from qualified contractors. 

The remainder of the architect’s fee covers work during the construction of your project. Architects act as your voice when dealing with contractors, guaranteeing you get exactly what you were wishing for. At FiELD9: architecture, this means organizing one initial meeting between you and the general contractor to provide clarification on the construction documents, thereby expediting the project. We provide regular site visits and meetings throughout the length of the construction and review the contractor’s work and their requests for changes. We want to make certain the project is done in a timely fashion and to perfection. 

So perhaps the real question should be, can you afford not to use an architect? In the long run, the fees paid to an architect are well worth it. A small percentage of the construction cost is certainly commensurate with ensuring your dreams come true. 

The architects at FiELD9: architecture will help you get your goals from your head to a reality. At FiELD9 we use a hybrid fee schedule. Through the pre-design and design concept stages, when still planning out the project, FiELD9 charges an hourly rate. Once a construction value has been established, in the construction documents and design development phase, we switch to a flat rate that is a percentage of the construction value. In this respect we offer the most reasonable pricing structure available while providing premium services.