Our fees – how do we charge?
There are several different methods that we use for charging fees.
This is a very common method of charging fees. We charge a percentage of the cost (usually the cost on completion). The advantage of a percentage fee basis is that a fee agreement can be reached at the earliest possible time, even before the value or extent of the building work is known. It is normal for the fee to change with the cost of the work so if, for example, you increase the size of your job, the fee will increase proportionately.
Similarly, if the final cost is less than the estimate, the fee would be reduced. It should be noted, however, that if the we have completed design work to your instructions and you then change your mind about the extent of your work, you may be charged additional fees for redesign work.
This is also a common method of setting fees. We agree on a fixed sum of money for an agreed scope of work. Normally the fee will not change if the cost of the changes. This has the advantage that the client always knows exactly how much the fee will be. However, it is not always easy to calculate a fixed lump-sum fee at the outset of a project, especially if the client is unsure of their requirements, and so sometimes we will quote a percentage fee which will later be converted to fixed lump sum when the scope of works is actually known.
This is not a common method of charging for services. Nevertheless, should this method be used, we will charge for the work on an agreed hourly (or daily or weekly) rate. It is useful where a client wishes to seek advice on a project. In these instances, lump-sum fees are also common. The disadvantage of time-based fees is that there is no certainty at the outset of how much the fees will amount to, although this disadvantage can partially be overcome by setting an upper limit which cannot be exceeded without approval.
How much do we charge?
Depending on the nature of the project and the services, hourly charges could vary from approximately €50-100 per hour. Hourly rates normally include all normal office overheads such as office rental, administrative staff, printing, telephone calls and so on.
Percentage charges may also vary according to the type and complexity of a job. For example. The more complex the job, the more time we will have to spend and therefore the more fees will have to be charged. Percentage fees for full architectural services on small and/or complex projects could be in the order of 20% of the cost of the works and would progressively reduce to around 6% for larger and less complex projects.
When do I have to pay?
This is a matter for agreement between us and should be settled before the we start work. Depending upon the scale of the job and the time frame, we may charge at the completion of each stage or on an agreed cash flow (for example, so much per month).
It is usual, where any stage is extended, to claim fees on an instalment basis. Thus during the project it is normal for the us to claim regular progressive payments of fees. The payment of fees is not contingent upon a development application or building application being approved as we do not have any control over how authorities determine applications.
What do these stages mean?
In order to understand the billing process it may help to understand the process of design and construction. You should discuss this with us at the outset of your project but as a general guide the major stages are:
Once we have established the basic decisions regarding your requirements and budget, we will start ‘designing’. The drawings will usually be relatively simple and there will probably be some optional schemes to discuss and agree with you. At the end of this stage the general planning and style of the project will be fixed.
When you have approved the preliminary designs we will develop the design in more detail, sometime involving subconsultants such as photographers or engineers etc. The developed design will include the estimate of cost. It is likely we will work closely with you during this stage so that you should be able to easily approve the work on completion of the stage.
In order for us to call tenders and have the project built it is necessary to produce very detailed and accurate drawings and specifications. This is the contract documentation stage.
The process of building is relatively lengthy and often complex. Our role is basically to administer the contract (tendering, arranging the contract, certifying payments to the contractors as well as issuing any variations and so on) and to inspect the works so that they are built in accordance with the documents.
Is there any way to make a fee cheaper?
Like all things, the cost of our services can always be made lower but it must also be remembered that lower does not always mean better. We can only make the services cheaper by shortening the time spent on design or by deleting a part of the normal service. Lower fees result in conservative design, not good design. We cannot spend time refining a design to save you money if they are working for minimal fees. The only other option therefore is to reduce the scope of services. For instance, you could consider asking a builder to price your job on the basis of the sketch plans alone. Alternatively, you may wish to employ the contractors and administer the contract yourself. Such methods would reduce professional fees but are not recommended, unless you have a thorough working knowledge of the industry. The end result could well cost you more if you are exposed to the technical and legal problems which frequently occur during the contract administration stage. If you feel an our proposed fee is high, it is best to discuss the matter fully and frankly with us before we start work.
Are there any other costs involved?
Usually we will seek reimbursement for items outside normal services, such as:
- -specialist subconsultants (for example, artists, structural engineers, cost consultants)
- -travelling expenses where the site is more than 30km from our office
- -models or perspectives
- -fees for authorities application.
Where can I get further advice?
If, after reading this document, you are still unsure of any element or if you require more details we suggest that you call and discuss your project, please contact us for an obligation free consultation.