The majority of people have no idea how much building designer’s fees are, and it is not without good reason. The different methods on how we can charge are confusing.
Traditionally Building Designers charge on a percentage of the Cost of Works, other wise referred to as the construction costs.
Here is an example on how it works. We have a standard percentage fee depending on the projects complexity. To make the calculation simple we will use a figure of 10 percent for discussion purpose only. If the budget for your Cost of Works is $600,000 (excluding GST) for a new build home, our fee would be $60,000 (excluding GST). If you had double the budget, the percentage fee charged by most building designers would be less.
Standard fees for an extension or alteration can vary anywhere between 5 to 10 percent of the Cost of Works. Smaller projects often require more work, especially when dealing with existing conditions.
You will find standard percentage fees vary between practices, along with the services they provide.
At the lower end, the building designer provides less design services and creates less detailed design. A building designer may provide the overall design, whilst you may need to specify all your joinery, finishes, fittings and fixtures; whilst you may be working directly with the builder.
At the other end of the spectrum, the building designer designs and selects everything, including the materials, finishes, fixtures and fittings, and works with the builder to the completion of your project.
The building designer’s percentage fee may be slightly higher if you are working with certain unique planning overlays (example a heritage overlay) and additional work is required in preparing your town planning application to address this overlay. Different sites have different overlays and often determines the complexity of the design work.
Percentage fees would be easier to understand if there was a greater understanding of construction costs and how design decisions affect them; and what the client would need to be doing themselves if they engaged a practice providing lower fees. However, the majority of people have no sense of this.
Some building designers charge by the hour, to make fees more understandable for the client. And most people are familiar with this method from other service providers, like some lawyers, accountants etc.
The hourly rate and percentage fee systems can be combined. Some building designers may charge an hourly rate when developing the basic design, with clients often being more comfortable with this. Then if the client decides to proceed they switch to a percentage fee of the Cost of Works.
Hourly rates may be easy for clients to understand. But the biggest hurdle tends to be fee structures, along with everything else that comes with the beginning of your project. It is a giant leap. You are contemplating spending a large sum of money, and it is potentially the largest investment you have made to date.
You can road test a car before you purchase it; however, with a custom designed new built home, renovation, or extension you are paying a large sum of money before you can physically see what you are getting.
Here at McLauchlan Building Designers (MBD) we can provide options, based on set fees or hourly rates, for the initial design stage. This allows you to commence your project without committing to the whole process. This gives you the opportunity to get to know me better and to confirm that I am the right architect for you.
During the initial design phase, we can charge by the hour and provide an estimate for that stage of your project. Alternatively we can provide a fixed fee.
As the concept design is being worked through, you can observe the different hats we wear. These include the energised designer with infectious passion, the taskmaster who keeps a restraint on your budget, along with the gentle nudge to keep your project moving forward.
It is also provides you the opportunity to decide if I’m the right building designer for you. After all it can be described as ‘a short term marriage.’
All my projects begin with freehand sketches. It is a time effective way to explore various options for your new home. Pen and tracing paper provide a great tool that can immediately show you the different possibilities. This instant feedback. It is very much a collaborative design process, where you are a vital part of the design team.
This process also helps you to tap into our expertise and to become a well informed knowledgable client, which instills confidence in you as your building designer.
You begin to understand the factors that affect construction costs, and by the completion of the concept design stage you have a realistic estimate of your construction costs. If they decide to proceed, then you are more comfortable that your fees are calculated on this basis.
If you’d like to discuss your project, please contact us for an obligation free consultation.