CREATING A PROJECT BUDGET AND FAQ
Architectural Design Fees
Most everyone forgets to consider design fees in their budgets. Fees are influenced by the project's program, complexity, size, budget, schedule, location, design review process, permit difficulties, etc.
Examples of how fees are estimated:
An architect estimating the fee needs to consider the difficulty of the site, what services are required,the quality of materials for the house (i.e. limestone vs. stucco), the size, program complexity (room quantity, types of rooms, special requirements etc.) project schedule (i.e. -project is due yesterday as opposed to a flexible schedule or the client wants to work through the design as an ongoing exercise to accomodate their growing collection of Flemish tapestries or rubber duckies).
Unfortunately many people don't understand what architects actually do and see them as no more than "glorified drafters". In truth, architects work in concert with the client to develop a design that is functional, site sensitive, aesthetically pleasing and adds value through the design. If you have already designed your home and it's hard and fast, then you probably do need the services of a drafter more than an architect. Architects are trained to design buildings and consider a host of factors before putting pen to paper (or in today's age, mouse to computer).
Provide your architect with as much information as possible, invite them to see the site or send them digital photos, discuss your proposed construction budget (remain open minded to an architect's comments regarding your budget), discuss your program or if you have a prefered style, a desire for a sustainable home, etc. The more information you provide, the better able they are to develop their fees. It does take time and you really should not expect one over the phone if you just called. If your budget does not reflect today's market values, discuss with your architect alternative construction methods. Maybe using shipping containers, prefabricated modules, or a material you just happened to have a ton of or ask your architect for ideas (that's what you hired them for). It really isn't the same thing as replacing the fan belt in your car.
This is where the bulk of your project costs reside and are usually driven by the same factors that impact the design of a building as listed above. Labor, material, fuel, local code requirements and other contractual costs will drive the type of numbers you will see in a bid from contractors. A house built on a flat site will have very different costs than one built on a steep site.
Obtain construction qoutes are various stages of your project. It gets closer to the mark when the design gets fleshed out. Select a contractor base on their references, reputation, experience and built work. Talk to former clients to get a feel of their experience or ask your architect for recommendations. For residential projects, depending on the situation, bringing a contractor on early in the project in an intergrated design process can be beneficial.