7 ARCHITECTS FEES – Myth vs Reality

7  Architect Fees – Myth vs Reality

A common resistance to engaging an architect is the myth that an architect will cost a lot in fees. (architect fees myth vs reality)

With some of the building shows on TV where contestants are doing it for themselves, why spend money on an architect?   What you save on fees, you can spend on construction, right?

After 15 years in practice, here’s the reality to bust the myth.

Architect’s fees are the first up front costs incurred on a renovation or new build project.

These fees may seem like a lot, until you’ve finished your renovation or new build and realise the you’ve spent twice as much on your joinery than your architect fees over two years. 

It can easily cost $20 to $30K a week to have your builder on-site, so that the cost of any delays or mistakes on-site hugely outweigh the architects fees to plan ahead, co-ordinate and limit this risk.

As a client, you need to have money to pay the architect, consultants, statutory costs and charges at the start of the project.

You need capacity to pay these costs from savings or from a mortgage redraw, as these are not part of a renovation or construction loan.

Refer to 5 Costs and Cashflow – Case Study: A recent renovation case study which shows you where the money goes and the cashflow from start to finish, over a two year period.

Architects Fees (regardless of how you are charged ie percentage of construction costs, hourly of fixed) are likely to be around 10% of the construction value of a new home and 15% of the construction value of an alteration and addition – for full traditional services including interiors and contract administration, spread over 2 years.

If you project requires a site specific response and a considered design, and the construction cost will be over $750K, then generally, your project will suit an architect.  

Architects Fees for minimum service for a project of this size will be around 10% of construction costs.  ie: around $75K.  The extent of services and the time spent to deliver services will vary from client to client and is also dependent on the complexity of the project, so a project specific and tailored fee structure is important. 

Consider architects fees as the price of:

  • ultimate individual tailoring and customisation of your home
  • step by step guidance at every stage of your project
  • maximising quality, efficiencies, relationships and
  • minimising the common risks like not getting quite what you wanted, facing difficulties & stress from an overload of decisions and the time resources a project requires, delays, lack of cost control and cost over runs, contractural difficulties with the performance of your builder or other consultants, difficult approvals process

Consultants Fees (surveyor, hydraulic engineer, structural engineer, independent certifier plus any others which may be required ie planner, geotech, heritage, arborist, landscape architect to name the most common other design consultants) can be around 5% of construction costs.

Statutory Costs are the costs charged by Council and other bodies involved in the planning and construction approval.  They include DA application fees, charges/taxes like Section 94 contributions (these vary from council to council but are often 1% of construction costs, Council bonds (sometime as much as $10 to $20K) and levies such as Long Service Levies 0.35% of construction costs. 

MWa urge prospective clients to consider architects fees (an other fees) in light of long term value, not short term costs.

In every case over the past 15 years, our clients are better off financially at the end of their project, having invested in MWa architect’s fees and their project.

In a combination of ways, from savings made during the process, the creation of intangible value such as quality, by minimising risk and saving time, and the building of a bricks and mortar asset, MWa’s fees have paid off as an investment.

Some clients have had a measurable return of up to 300%, (without including the the capital gain of their renovated improved homes).

For 10 specific examples of how MWa’s service has saved client money, refer to MWa blog: Fees: A Guaranteed Return .

So, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t lose? 

What if you are guaranteed, in one way or another, your investment in professional fees would be returned?

Don’t let the assumption that architects fees are “a cost you can’t afford” stop you from getting the best advice possible.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Read on…click below on MWa’s STRAIGHT TALKING client advice articles:

1 Architects – Do you need one? Is your project suitable?

2 Your Brief: Wish List, Shopping List & Priorities List: Decide what you need, what you want and what you can spend – before finding your architect.

3 Your Architect – A Good Match: How to find the right architect.

4 Process: Strategy, Vision, Compliance, Detail & Delivery: How it all works 

5 Costs & Cashflow – 2018 Case Study: A recent renovation case study which shows you where the money goes and the cashflow from start to finish.

6 Time – How long will it take?: How to cut six months off a renovation time frame.

7 Fees – Myth vs Reality

8 Manage Costs, Save Money: 10 Ways to Manage Costs, 10 Ways to Save Money


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