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The concern of architecture fees

Updated: Jan 28

A common resistance to engaging a professional designer or architect is the concern that an architect or designer will cost a lot in fees.

With programs like The Block NZ and Grand Designs among others spread through a plethora of lifestyle channels now available on TV and online the impression is these people are largely handling things themselves. We can assure you that show business is in the market of creating entertaining drama and that's what these guys get!

The other common mis-conception is what gets saved in design fees goes into the build budget.

After 20 years of running architecture practice's and watching people go it alone, here’s the reality.

Because designers fees are the first up front costs incurred on a project they seem like a lot. That is until you’ve finished your project and realise the you’ve spent twice as much money on the joinery, bathroom tiles or light fittings than your architect fees cost spread over sometimes a couple of years. In many cases a real-estate agents commission can come uncomfortably close to the architects fees.

It can easily cost $7,000 per week to have your builder on-site, which means the cost of any delays or mistakes on-site hugely outweigh our fees to plan ahead, co-ordinate and limit this risk (and be on-hand at a moments notice should the unexpected occur).

As a client, you need to have money to pay the architect, consultants, statutory costs and charges at the start of the project. It is important prior to starting any project you have the capacity to pay these costs from savings or from a mortgage redraw, as these are not part of a renovation or construction loan and financing these costs are usually the hardest to secure funding for.

The designer, engineer, planner and council fees are likely to be around 15% of the construction value of a new home and 20% of the construction value of an alteration and addition – for full service engagement including interiors and contract observation the costs are often spread over 1-2 years.

So as a rough rule of thumb if you project requires a site specific response, some design consideration, and the construction cost will be over $400,000incl GST, then generally, your project will suit engaging a designer or architect.

To make this slightly easier to reconcile, consider architects fees as the price of:

- The absolute individual tailoring and customisation of your home.

- Step by step guidance at every stage of your project maximising quality, efficiency, relationships and minimising the common risks like not getting quite what you wanted.

- A reduction in the number of difficulties and followed on stress from an overload of decisions and the time resources a project requires.

- Assistance with delays, lack of cost control and cost over runs, contractural difficulties with the performance of your builder or other consultants, difficult approvals process.

In each of our projects over the last 12 years, our clients have come out better off in a financial and mental health sense having invested in utilising our services for their project.

This happens in hundreds of small ways. From informed cost decisions being made during the process, the creation of intangible value such as quality materials and workmanship standards, by minimising compliance and weathertightness risk and ultimately helping to save time during construction.

We have a track record with a loyally held list of developer clients that have invested in our services and trusted us. Our biggest issue has been a couple of them retired early! The second biggest issue is the others can't find their next project for us fast enough!

So, what would you do if you knew you wouldn’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. Contact us on the details below to start your architectural journey!

Red Adair was an american oil well fire figher, he said “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” we couldn't agree more!

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