When you spend money on hiring an architect, you are investing in your future. Not only does an architect make sure that you get exactly what you need and want for the project, but that you can do all those things on time and in budget. More often than not, my residential clients find that they can happily live in their house for many years, and if they decide to sell, they get more than their initial investment, including the architectural fees, back from the sale. My medical clients find that my designs not only create a beautiful space, but also improved function and flow, which not only increases the number of patients they can see a day, it also increases staff happiness and retention. You may think that you cannot afford to hire an architect. The reality is, you can't afford not to.
CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS = $4,200
SMALL CUSTOM HOME = $25,000*
LARGE CUSTOM HOME = $32,000*
INTERIOR RENOVATION = $7,000*
COMPLEX RENOVATION / ADDITION = $14,000*
Traditionally, the architect's fee is determined by either an hourly rate or a percentage of the construction cost. However, I see two problems with this way of thinking:
1) The value an architect brings to a project cannot be determined by how many hours s/he sits in their chair. Sometimes, we (the architect and the client) communicate very well and get the design right on the first try so we can move forward in the design process immediately. Other times, it takes a few rounds to find the right design and move on to the next phase. There is no more or less value to the design if it takes a long or short time to discover.
The real value in a design is the dramatic effect your physical environment has on your overall health, happiness, & quality of life.
2) There are so many factors that contribute to the final construction cost including contractor overhead and labor, cost of finishes selected, a global pandemic throwing all systems off (ha!). All of these things do not affect the work I provide as an architect. Whether the kitchen cabinets cost $20,000 or $5,000 does not change how detailed my interior design and elevations are in the construction documents. Whether the windows end up costing $250,000 or $25,000 does not change how I detail, specify, or schedule them in the construction documents and it certainly does not change the amount of effort I put into thinking about their size and location in the design. The price of house or finishes that suit people's tastes or that they can afford do not affect the way I design for my clients, so it does not make sense to base my design fee on how much my client is willing to or able to pay for their construction project.
My goal as an architect is to offer my clients honesty & transparency at all phases of the design process and I hope my clients will provide me with the same in return. In order to design your dream home, we need to lay everything out on the table so we can capture your wants & needs in the most efficient, functional, and beautiful design possible.
I do not believe that I should prioritize my clients based on the fee they are paying me, as many architecture firms do, especially if that fee is based off of how much house my clients can afford. Similarly, I do not believe home owners should place value on an architect based on how high or low their fee is.
We all have the same goal in the end: for you to have a beautiful & functional home to not just survive in, but thrive in! Only by working together with openness, kindness, and respect can we make that happen.
*any significant changes to the design, requested by the client, after the design development phase will result in a 50% increase of the original fee. Any unique projects with multiple buildings or special complex requirements outside normal residential needs may be subject to a fee increase.
Patricia Huffines, Owner of Elsa Ceramics
Dave & Karen Freeman
Cary & Karen Brus