Homeowners usually get two to three proposals from design pros before they engage. This allows you to see the best possibilities for your future home project. It also helps you hire an architect or building designer who fits the job.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to choose.
Why? It’s because homeowners baffle which design pro who will give them the best value for their money. Apart from the varying fee structures, they aren’t 100% sure about what they’ll pay for.
So, we’re going to explain all the services of an architect and the possible fee structures they follow. This will help you hire an architect or building designer faster. Knowing these things will also give the two of you a smooth start.
1. Does this project need a feasibility study?
When speaking to your architect for the first time, it is important to be clear about three things:
- Your vision
- Your budget
- Your deadline
Always express these requirements of yours during the preliminary meetings or design consultations.
Unfortunately, not all of these things are solid when you meet the architect. There are homeowners with no exact vision and deadline for their project but have a strict budget. Others have a champagne taste on a beer budget. The scenarios are different.
Normally, these are straightened out after an interview with an architect. But, some architects may suggest conducting a feasibility study prior to the planning stage. This preliminary study will give you a rough budget so you can see how the architect allocated money to complete the project. Here, you see a clear basic budget that it includes specific items, additional costs, contingency, and any applicable consultant fees.
A feasibility study is usually carried out before large and complex projects, especially when the client doesn’t want to encounter problems and controversies on the next stages.
How much does a feasibility study cost?
Some architects offer a fixed fee to conduct a feasibility study. This way, the homeowner won’t feel obligated to take the full design services. Some architects include this service during the planning stage.
2. How many revisions are allowed?
Before you commit to an architect or building designer, ask how many revisions they allow. It’s a rare occasion when architects produce the 100% perfect design for their client. You need to know how many times you can correct their design before extra fees apply. Some architects charge an hourly rate after some revisions in the design. There are others who don’t stop until they get the design right.
3. Are you choosing from an experienced pool of architects?
Architects and building designers have specialisations. There are people who are good with designing new homes, renovations, granny flats, hi-rise buildings, green/sustainable structures, etc.
When you hire an architect or building designers who specialise in your project, they will deliver with every challenge you present them.
Yet, you can still trust an architect/building designer who has fewer experience in a certain area. All established architects today went through this stage. It’s okay to give these young architects a chance to prove themselves. But, ask them about their thoughts and plans on the project. Better, if they have a mentor who can guide them. When your chosen architect has a good network of experts around him/her, you are in good hands.
4. Are your principles and goals aligned?
Before you hire an architect or a building designer, show them a few images which inspire you. Then, tell them why the photo appealed to you so much. This will give the architect an idea of your needs and wants when it comes to design.
You’ll know when your principles and goals align when the architect begins to provide useful and professionally-sound advice. Or, when they initiate budget discussions after each meeting to ensure that the changes in the design are still within your budget.
5. Are council approval fees included?
Your project might require some kind of approval from the local authority. To get fast DA approval, hire an architect/building designer who’s knowledgeable and updated with the local council regulations and codes. It’s their responsibility to prepare all the essential drawings to obtain the nod from the council. He/she must inform you immediately if the design you want doesn’t meet council requirements. More importantly, he/she must provide alternative design solutions that meet your brief and comply with regulatory bodies.
However, lodging your application is another task. You need to be clear if this service falls within the architect or building designer’s fee or if it’s an extra. You can also submit your own DA documents to the local council to save a few dollars.
6. How detailed are your architectural drawings?
An architect or building designer provides technical and scaled drawings. This takes the bulk of their fee because producing these drawings are time-consuming. The more complex and detailed you want your architectural drawing to be, the more valuable it tends to be. These drawings are your key to obtain a building permit and accurate builder quotes.
We prefer drawing in a 1:100 scale on all projects. This is enough for you, the builders and the council to understand the space and reality of a drawing. Detailed drawings for high-end projects usually come in a 1:20 or 1:50 scale.
No worries. Varying scales and too detailed information may not be necessary for a project. This is good news, especially when you are on a tight budget.
7. Who selects the finishes?
Architects and building designers follow your brief, and at the same time, they inject their trademark in the design. Some have go-to fittings and fixtures. This is a good thing for you because they already filtered down the choices for you. This saves you time from choosing over hundreds of selections. But when you like to be hands-on, you can shop for your own. Whichever way you go, ask your architect about the possibility of paying extra fees. Some architects ask for a percentage fee when you ask them to supply your appliances, fixtures, and fittings. Others charge per hour that they worked on.
8. Who hires the builders?
You can hire your own builder. It’s nice when you already have a team whom you can trust to build your home. You can find them yourself or get recommendations from friends.
If you haven’t found one, you can also ask your architect/building designer. He/she has contact with builders whom he/she have worked with before. He/she may have a go-to builder whom he/she have confidence working with. Ask him/her to endorse your project to a few reputable builders who can complete and deliver the project in accordance with your initial budget, timeframe, and expectations of workmanship or quality.
Tendering to multiple builders can help build your dream home for the best value. When you let the architect or building designer do the tendering, he/she will assess every builder quote received, selecting the ‘best price’ for you. Then, he/she organises and supervises the signing of all building contracts between the you and builder, based on the agreed tender price or building quotation.
9. Will the architect oversee the construction?
Your architect or building designer can perform the role of a project manager during the construction stage. He/she can monitor the builder’s works, ensuring its quality, the budget, and the schedule.
This supervisory job is a hard and challenging work for the architect or building designer. Their fees at this stage are usually negotiated. Some work for a fixed weekly/monthly fee or at an hourly rate with a specific number of hours.
It’ best to negotiate everything at the beginning of the project so the architect/building designer can prepare for the scope of works. Tell them in advance whether you’re going to need their document lodging, tendering, and project management services. This way, your architect/building designer can protect you from any financial risks and the stress you might feel during the building process.