Since we are not “allowed” to discuss fees as architects, I suppose I have to dance around this one carefully. However, we all know that our fees for a project are more than a dollar and typically less than a million dollars. Is that safe to say?
I suppose one reason people don’t hire an architect for a residential or small commercial project has to do with fees. They either don’t sense the value for the investment, or they think they can do it themselves (i.e. don’t need an architect) or they simply believe they can’t afford an architect. These are all plausible. If you are planning a new house/building or an addition or large alteration the fee (as a mere dollar amount) can be a large number. However it must be viewed not as a mere number but as a return of equivalent value for the investment. Out of the three reasons listed above for why one doesn’t typically hire an architect (those aren’t the only reasons BTW), I’ll address the last reason, whether you can afford an architect. I think more of you can if you follow these reasons.
These are the first 10 reasons that came to mind. As always, please share you reasons to add to my list. Maybe yours are better.
- Plan, save or budget for it.
- Find out why hiring an architect is important to you…you will spend your money on what is important to you.
- Consult with an architect to comment on the plans you intend to purchase.
- Consider the fee less than the amount you will save by hiring the architect in the first place. (true – hard to prove)
- Limit or tailor their services to your specific needs. (not necessarily recommended but better than nothing)
- Ask your lending company if you can tie the fees into your mortgage (not common but not impossible)
- Develop a total budget for construction cost and fees as an overall number and target that figure (have to believe in the process first)
- Reduce the overall construction cost of your house (limit the size, simplify the design, back off on the lavish finishes) to free up money for an architect (**gasp**)
- Find a design-build company with a skilled architect on board (where the degree of services or depth of documentation can be limited safely)
- Marry an architect
OK, so these ideas probably could be lumped into three or four reasons and the last one is not very likely. In fact the last one might be more expensive that hiring an architect outright. I tend to believe in the second reason the most. Not to be cruel or arrogant, but I’m amazed at what we as an American culture spend money on when we cry that we don’t have enough money. I admit that we as a family spend money on things that are important to us. This may differ from your choices, but if you are willing to be honest, there’s more truth to this if you get past the initial offense.
Perhaps I will expound on each of the other reasons in follow up posts. Many of my fellow architects out there have already done that. Look around. Is an architect right for every project? Yes and no. If you’re not sure you can afford an architect or if you’re not sure you need an architect, call a local architect and ask them if you can discuss this with them. Pay them for their time, or at least offer. Listen carefully to them before you rule it out. Let me know what they say. Let me know what you decide and why. You shouldn’t make a final decision without asking some questions first.
photos are from photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)