The average cost of architectural planning is based upon the scope of services that a client requires from an architect, the schedule in which the work is to be completed, and the complexity of the project. While an architect will work out the cost of an architectural fee based on a set of guidelines, each project fee is unique and is determined based on a client's specific project requirements.
Architectural planning can be defined as the typical scope of services that an architect performs prior to the construction of a building. These phases of work include schematic design, design development and construction documentation. Through the schematic and design development phases, the architect works with the client to interpret his project requirements into a building design. In the construction documentation phase, the design is developed into a set of drawings and specifications that a builder can then use to price and build the project.
A common way of determining architectural fees is by calculating the fee as a percentage of the total construction value of the project. Average percentage values vary between 6 percent to 12 percent for a commercial building, and 10 percent to 15 percent for a residential building. Every architect will use different percentage values to determine fees based on location, experience in that building type and size of the architectural firm. Percentage fees may or may not include consultants, such as engineering fees.
A fixed fee for each architectural design phase is another common way architects present their fees. A fixed fee is determined using past project-fee information and cross checking this with a percentage fee based on the value of the construction project. Clients can request an architect give them a fixed fee for a project so that they know what their up-front architectural design costs will be in advance.
The major difference between a fixed fee and a percentage-based fee is that a percentage-based fee will rise and fall depending on the construction value of the project. A fixed fee will remain the same throughout a project, regardless of the construction cost of the project. If a client chooses to significantly change a design during the planning process, an architect can re-negotiate his fee.
Architectural planning and design fees are not included in the cost of construction, so you should always have a separate budget for architectural, city and consultant fees. To avoid misunderstanding the value of architectural fees, ask your architect to explain his fee calculation and make sure you are clear about what the fee does and does not include.
In addition to the typical scope of services an architect provides during architectural design and planning phases, a fee may be charged for producing photo-realistic or hand-drawn renderings, producing architectural display models, and making significant changes or value-engineering a nearly complete architectural design. The average cost of these additional services will vary between architecture firms.
Linda Wong is a freelance writer located in Los Angeles, Calif., with a degree in architecture from the University of Auckland. She specializes in a broad range of project types, including residential and commercial buildings, plus interior and furniture design. Wong has been a Demand Studios writer since 2009, and her articles focus on home improvement and design topics.