What do architects do?
Architects are professionally trained designers who can assist you with the design of small buildings, large buildings, or groups of buildings, as well as the spaces in and around them. Architects combine creativity with technical knowledge to provide integrated solutions for the built environment. Generally, architects follow a typical project strategy from start to finish:
- Project Brief
The architect talks to the client about project requirements, with reference to cost, quality and time. This information forms the design brief.
- Design (or Concept)
The architect analyses the design brief, site conditions, and determines the best location and orientation for a project. Rough plans, sketches and models are prepared to bring together concept design drawings.
- Design Development, Documentation & Building Approvals
The architect further develops the concept drawings with the design brief, and prepares technical details for the project with a team of professionals. Detailed drawings, schedules and specifications are prepared for the builder. These documents are lodged to obtain building approval from local authorities. The method of engaging a builder is determined.
The architect works with the builder and other professionals involved to ensure the project is constructed in accordance with the drawings and specifications.
- Post Construction
Projects generally have a warranty period known as the “defects liability period”. The architect follows up with any issues or outstanding work with the client and builder.
How do architects charge for their services?
As the site, briefs and budgets can differ from project to project greatly, architects generally offer a range of ways to charge for their services:
- Lump Sum or fixed fee based
This is a fixed fee to you based on the amount of work involved. The advantage to the client is that they know the cost upfront, and this is independent of the cost of the building. The disadvantage to the architect is that the architect carries the risk of losing money if the fee is not adequate. Most fixed fee arrangements have an additional hourly fee component to help balance the risk of under quoting. If the scope or the brief of the service is increased, additional fees are payable.
- Percentage of Construction Cost based
This is a fee that the architect will charge based on a percentage of the final building cost, to complete all the work that is required. Generally, small projects attract a higher percentage, and larger projects attract a larger percentage. The scope of the services can vary, with each stage of work the architect having its own percentage charge. The system is reasonably fair to both the client and the architect as the final fee payable to the architect is based on the contracted final cost of construction.
- Hourly rate based
This is a do-and-charge system. Architects can simply charge for the work they do on an hourly rate basis. The advantage is that clients do not have to pay any additional margin.
- Combination of fixed and hourly rates based
This system gives the client a good idea of the costs involved, and generally allows for the final cost of the work to be adjusted to suit the scope of work and the level of service provided. The architect is generally more keen quoting this way because it reduces the risk of under quoting.