How Do Architects Calculate Their Fees?

A common question we get during our initial meetings with new clients is ‘how do architects calculate their fees?’.  In this blog post we will briefly explain the three main methods architects use to calculate their fees, then explain how we calculate our fees at Dig Design.

Percentage Fees

This is probably one of the most common method architects use to calculate their fees.  Calculating fees this way involves applying a percentage to the cost of works (construction cost excluding GST).  The percentage used to calculate the fee is on a sliding scale.  The higher the cost of works the lower the percentage.

Myth:     Architects choose expensive detailing and finishes to increase the cost of works and their fee.

Reality:  Most architects will not increase fees unless there is an increase in scope, or a reluctance from the client to realistically link the brief to the budget.  Ultimately, we want you to build and love your dream home.

Lump Sum Fees

Lump sum fees are a fee negotiated and agreed to by the client and the architect for the delivery of specific services, they are also known as fixed fees.

Myth:     Architects pad their fixed fee with unnecessary costs.

Reality:  Architects with a strong body of experience are well skilled in knowing what is required on a project and therefore set their fees accordingly.   Ultimately, we want you to build and love your dream home and we want to be the ones to help you get there.

Time Charge Fees

Time charge fees are calculated using an hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours spent providing services.  This method is similar to that used by other professional service providers like lawyers and accountants.

Myth:     Architects pad their time charge fee with hours not worked.

Reality:  Architects keep a record of hours worked and will pass that information on if requested.  If you request an hourly rate fee, we will give you an estimate of hours we expect to spend on your project and let you know along the way if any of your requests have a time and cost implication.  Architects will often apply a cap if it is appropriate.

How We Calculate Our Fees at Dig Design

At Dig Design® we use a hybrid model for calculating our fees, with the occasional project specific anomaly.  Our fees are made up of two components, design and documentation then contract administration:

Firstly, for design and documentation, we calculate our fees as a percentage of a construction cost estimate, based on the scale and scope of the proposed work … and then we fix it!

Should the scope of works be increased from the original agreement, we may need to recalculate our fee.  There are a couple of triggers for hourly rates which are outlined in full within our fee proposal document.

Secondly, at the construction phase if you engage Dig Design® for Contract Administration, we calculate our fee as a percentage of the signed contract price (between you and the builder).  This percentage is outlined in our fee proposal document.  There are occasions where we might charge an hourly rate rather than a percentage due to the small scale of the project, or where the client wishes to deal directly with the builder themselves and is only after advice when required. 

Within our fee proposal, we provide fee options which we refer to as our Basic, Essentials + Comprehensive Packages.  Our Basic Package includes architectural services up to and including design development and town planning (if required).  Our Essentials Package includes the architectural services covered in our Basic Package plus the documentation of your project for building permit and construction.  Our Comprehensive Package is our complete architectural and interior design service package and is our most popular package.

In addition we have two fixed fee packages, our Brief + Possibilities Package (BPP) which is a preliminary feasibility service plus extras. and our Concept Design Package which is an add on to our BPP and looks in detail at the concept design stage for your project. 

As mentioned above our Contract Administration Package is an add on option and itemised separately in our fee proposal document.

Take a look at what’s included in our full service and fixed fee packages and download our Dig Design® Service Packages document.

Contact us to book a meeting to discuss your project and request a fee proposal or to find out more about our fixed fee packages.