an analysis of architect's fees
factors affecting architectural fees
One of the questions we are most often asked is "How do you calculate your fees, and what is included?"
Reading between the lines you’ll find the question "Why are your fees so high?" This common perception is at the root of many people’s hesitation to hire an architect. There seems to be a disconnect between the public perception of what an architect does and the value they actually bring to a project. Here are some factors to consider:
public safety comes first
Architects have a duty of care to their clients as well as the general public and the building’s users. Buildings need to provide a safe and healthy environment by having enough exits, appropriate fire ratings, structural integrity, barrier-free access and proper air quality.
Earning an architecture degree takes at least 6 years. The internship program takes another 5 years followed by an intense registration exam. As if that wasn’t enough, we then have to do mandatory continuing education for the rest of our career. It’s amazing that people still want to pursue architecture as a career!
Buildings are intricate, made up of many individual components that somehow have to function properly together. There are so many ways that a building could fail, and if it does, guess who’s responsible? Right, the architect. It takes knowledge, due diligence and experience to mitigate the risk inherent in any building project.
complicated building codes
Have you SEEN the building code? More than 1,175 pages of gobbledegook, taking literally years to be able to understand and interpret correctly. And it’s not optional, it’s a legal requirement for all building projects.
Architects must be able to coordinate a team of engineers and other consultants on our client’s behalf. Structural, mechanical and electrical engineers to start with. Also geotechnical engineer, civil engineer, landscape architect, kitchen consultant, interior designer, acoustic consultant, cost consultant, code consultant… well, you get the idea. We have to ask the right questions at the right time and to be accountable to our clients.
essential building science
The most common cause of building failure is water getting into where it shouldn’t be. Your building has to be designed and detailed well enough to keep out water, including rainwater, water vapour and condensation that causes mould. To do it properly takes experience, skill, time and sometimes extensive product research.
Space planning, stairs, site orientation, handicap access, functional layout, lighting, history, cultural expression, parking, landscaping, equipment, drainage, materials, colours, air handling, daylighting, structural system, occupant loads, elevators, circulation, budget, sustainability. All of these somehow have to work together to form a solution the client is happy with.
Value matches fees
Despite the common public perception of high fees, architects bring a great amount of value to a building project and we always try to appropriately tailor our fee proposals to the unique characteristics of each project.