Q:  How do architects charge for their work?
Depending on the project type and the architectural firm, an architect may charge for a project via a percentage of a cost of construction fee, a lump sum fee, or hourly rates. It is most typical for a project that involves all five architectural phases of work (Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Document, Bidding and Construction Administration) to be charged via a percentage of the cost of construction.

Fee percentages can range from 8-15%; as the building size goes up, the fee percentage usually goes down.

All projects include some reimbursable expenses. These project costs are expenses to the project such as permitting fees, reproduction expenses, soil borings and other environmental testing, construction testing, etc. These costs are in addition to an architect's fees and can be paid directly by the client or paid by the architect and reimbursed at a mark-up to account for pre-payment and administrative costs.

No discussion of fees would be complete without the understanding that architectural fees from various firms must be evaluated very carefully to determine the best value. Perhaps the most important consideration in the whole fee discussion is the realization that a skilled architectural firm with a solid understanding of the Owner and strong experience in a particular building specialty has the best ability to deliver the most building for your budget. While clients may be looking at the front end of a project to save dollars in fees, the same architect whose fee was a little higher can often deliver a more cost effective building and better control construction costs. The focus on cost savings would best shift to the big picture and total budget including life cycle costing, the cost to operate and maintain the building over its lifetime. Certainly, a good architect that is paid a fair fee can and will do a lot to control the initial and life cycle costs of the building project.

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