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question for architects/students of it, currently working in it etc

kuba

TRIBE Member
Why do architects charge a % of the construction vs a flat fee?

Lately more and more that I talk to tell me it costs me a % of the final product vs what it used to be like:

I pay an architect to design and draw, I take that to my contractor, and I pay the contractor.

It seems a backdoor way of making more money, but it also seems completely unfair and unreasonable.

Any architects on here can offer a different opinion?
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
complexity of design is related to size of job, how much time it will take to complete. More time to complete = more money for all, why should the architect be left out of that?
 

the_fornicator

TRIBE Member
Everything constructed has to be designed and laid out first. Since they have a hand in it, that's their price.

That's what my architect friend said, anyway.
 

dr. claw

Member
Why do architects charge a % of the construction vs a flat fee?

Lately more and more that I talk to tell me it costs me a % of the final product vs what it used to be like:

I pay an architect to design and draw, I take that to my contractor, and I pay the contractor.

It seems a backdoor way of making more money, but it also seems completely unfair and unreasonable.

Any architects on here can offer a different opinion?
In my experience at least, an architecture firm doesn't just hand off a design to a client and contractor and call it a day. After completing permit and construction drawings, they oversee the construction as a contract administrator. This includes sanctioning any changes that are necessitated with change order documents and site instructions, and altering drawings to reflect the changes. In addition, they ensure that designs are built to adhere to building codes through regular site inspections, maintain and oversee lines of communication between the trades and parties involved (electrical engineers, structural engineers, etc), and attend construction meetings. Contract administration basically makes sure the client is protected in case anything goes wrong during the construction process- I've known of some contractors who go ahead and make changes without the proper paper trail, and the result is that the project goes over budget when the changes need to be rectified due to not being code compliant. When the design is near completion, a contract administrator also does a sign off so that the construction firm can receive a 10 percent hold off fee given to the client (which is basically ransom to make sure the contractor gets the job done and done properly).

A decent sized architecture firm generally has separate people working as a designer, contract administrator, and drafting technologist (to make changes to the drawings). One firm had me doing everything by myself which wasn't a whole lot of fun, not to mention having to deal with gross construction dudes with calendars of naked women on their walls, who weren't happy having to take direction from some chick in her 20's.
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
If your project is such full scale then I can certainly understand, however in our experience even building a house from ground up didn't require all the things you mention. If you have a solid contractor it shouldn't be so complex (=expensive).

If all I want to do is build a 300 sq ft extension I don't want to pay % based because I don't believe as much hand-holding will be necessary.

Your answer, however, provided some great insight and validity to the argument in certain circumstances.
 
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dr. claw

Member
Hm. I do know for some small scale projects (like strip mall suite renos) I did have to do site inspections, and maybe one or two minor change orders during construction. I'm not so familiar with the residential construction process though and don't recall fee charges once necessary services were completed.
 

le bricoleur

TRIBE Member
If your project is such full scale then I can certainly understand, however in our experience even building a house from ground up didn't require all the things you mention. If you have a solid contractor it shouldn't be so complex (=expensive).

If all I want to do is build a 300 sq ft extension I don't want to pay % based because I don't believe as much hand-holding will be necessary.

Your answer, however, provided some great insight and validity to the argument in certain circumstances.
For a project so small and/or simple, I would suggest forgoing an architect in favour of a good contractor/architectural technologist with a residential BCIN number. If all you need is a box, all you need is someone certified to draft permit drawings.
 
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