Fees? What Fees?

Fees? What Fees?

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:42 am

What sort of fees are Architects achieving in these straightened times (anyone lucky enough to be achieving anything at all that is!)?

I had a client ask me for a quote, to take his one-off house, from inception to completion. His budget was €300k. I quoted 3% or €9k Ex Vat or €10,890 in total. The guy nearly passed out and suggested he had a figure of around €2k in mind. I told him that, based on the amount of time I would have to put into the project, it would mean I would be working for less than the minimum wage. He didn't see the problem! I showed him the door!
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby teak » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:11 am

He didn't see the problem! I showed him the door! :lolno:

Actually, my problem is seeing how you could do it for €10,890.
If around half of this is for the post-design stage of progress drawings and build supervision, then you only get around €4,500 for the actual design and planning stuff.
Even if the client was easy to please - and I doubt if your man would be - this would mean that you'd be running hard to stand still.

If you were cute hoor you'd have offered to have taken the whole project, i.e. get him his 'sort of' house within the €300,000, and kept a good chunk of it as your own fees.
But you didn't.
This is the price you pay for professional integrity in Éire Nua.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:31 am

teak wrote:He didn't see the problem! I showed him the door! :lolno:

Actually, my problem is seeing how you could do it for €10,890.
If around half of this is for the post-design stage of progress drawings and build supervision, then you only get around €4,500 for the actual design and planning stuff.
Even if the client was easy to please - and I doubt if your man would be - this would mean that you'd be running hard to stand still.

If you were cute hoor you'd have offered to have taken the whole project, i.e. get him his 'sort of' house within the €300,000, and kept a good chunk of it as your own fees.
But you didn't.
This is the price you pay for professional integrity in Éire Nua.


Thanks for the reply teak. The only reason I might have been able to do it at that price is down to the fact that I have very little overheads at the moment and am trying hard to build a decent portfolio of work. I also have one or two other projects which are turning a nice profit and keeping the wolf from the door if you like.

I just spoke to that guy again this morning and he reckons he has found someone to do it for €3k 'all-in'. I can only imagine the result! Next they will be putting house plans on the back of cereal packets (if they haven't already that is!).

Think I'm better off without this one somehow.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby parka » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:31 pm

bluepicasso wrote:I just spoke to that guy again this morning and he reckons he has found someone to do it for €3k 'all-in'. I can only imagine the result! Next they will be putting house plans on the back of cereal packets (if they haven't already that is!).


I think the cereal packets will be coming out very soon. There is a perception out there that drawings can be done for nothing and you aren't needed to be onsite until it all goes wrong. Then there are the people offering their services for next to nothing. I recently heard of €200 fire certs (the person quoting this forget to mention the all important 'starting at") but suddenly architectural services are starting to become wound down to next to nothing.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:29 pm

parka wrote:
bluepicasso wrote:I just spoke to that guy again this morning and he reckons he has found someone to do it for €3k 'all-in'. I can only imagine the result! Next they will be putting house plans on the back of cereal packets (if they haven't already that is!).


I think the cereal packets will be coming out very soon. There is a perception out there that drawings can be done for nothing and you aren't needed to be onsite until it all goes wrong. Then there are the people offering their services for next to nothing. I recently heard of €200 fire certs (the person quoting this forget to mention the all important 'starting at") but suddenly architectural services are starting to become wound down to next to nothing.


I know what you mean parka. We are our own worst enemies. I am not suggesting that there should be any form of price fixing or fee scales or anything like it, the free market will do what the free market will do. However, when you see people offering full planning applications for €500, you have to ask some serious questions. Unfortunately, it all comes back to a lack of understanding or 'education' on the client's part. Most clients really don't understand what it is that an architect does and when they see Joe Bloggs 'Design Services' offering cut price rates for doing the 'same' job, they assume that everyone else is trying to rip them off! It's a real shame, as in my opinion at least, Mr. Bloggs has played a major role in the destruction of the Irish countryside (along with the Irish Planning System that is)....Until we get a handle on the whole 'protection of function' debate, we are unfortunately stuck in this race to the bottom on fees. Very sad for the profession as a whole.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby massamann » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:34 pm

Okay, I can't take it any more. The proliferation of "protection of function"/"oh, it'll be great when only qualified architects can submit plans" threads is exactly the wrong road to go down. Telling Sean Citizen that only an expert group of people are suitably qualified to tackle their problem has done nothing to raise the esteem of the legal or medical professions in the last twenty years. If anything, the public standing of these two groups is lower now than it has ever been, thanks to the belief that they are happy to stand over a culture of elitism, high fees, lack of transparency and poor service.

It's just an opinion, but my belief is that the only way to convince people to pay good money to have their builds architecturally designed is to educate them as to the value of that design. Open House Dublin is a truly wonderful event, and does more to explain what an architect can do than any 'protection of function' legislation possibly could. I love architecture, I take a great interest in what's happening locally, and yet each year of OHD I am inspired by what is happening and what is possible in the city. In the same way that anyone can become a parent, similarly any Joe Public with financial backing can build a house. No training, no thought required. Wouldn't it be great if as a condition of the planning process, that as soon as you declared an intent to build any project over €x, that you were obliged to attend a consultation with a planner. Not even a planner, but the "Local Educational Architect", with whom you could have a nice afternoon chat and go through the different styles of houses, eras, trends - all in an effort of raising the bar when it comes to those who are thinking of building. So that even before an architect/designer has been engaged, you have an idea of what you want.

To paraphrase: Give a man an architect, and he'll build one decent house. Give him an appreciation of architecture, and he'll build with consideration for the rest of his life.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby teak » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:47 pm

Yes, it would be wonderful if planning and architecture were fully integrated in local planning offices.
Planners would be more open minded; architects more respectful of local landscapes and existing forms.
Maybe even farm buildings could be looked at from more than the purely functional or 'standard design' forms given erectors of cubicle sheds, slatted units and so on.

But realistically, with council budgets squeezed so much now it is hard to see a full-time architect being taken on.
I do not see retraining existing planners to the desired standard as possible, never mind feasible.

A possible way forward for architecture practices to get more projection of their skills to the public would be via their own websites.
Using today's web engineering there is so much one can do to illustrate in 3-D the various options for design, redesign and interior decorating that it's hard to see why so many Irish architects have only a basic 'design philosophy + selected portfolio' type of website.
And of course, there are some with none at all.
If nothing else, their present downtime allows architects to read enough on HTML, CSS, Javascript, SQL and PHP to get them able to make a good website without paying thousands to some scuttlebag 'web designer'.

It might also help the image of Irish architects before the public if someone kidnapped Bannon before he records any more programmes . . .
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby spoil_sport » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:53 pm

massamann, such a design review process exists in the UK, offered by Design Council CABE (formerly just CABE) This process has its own pitfalls, most obviously, that some people may not wish to be "educated" (I must also add, even as an architect, I find the idea that we must "educate" the lay man a bit patronising, we spend 5yrs in college studying what makes good design, I'm not sure we can just, say, show people a flip book of do's and dont's and expect them to "get it", whatever it is they are supposed to be "getting", that being said, every effort must still be made) The design review is often resented, especially if someone is already paying architects fees for design and then have to pay additional fees for design review. Another complaint is a perceived bias against certain styles of architecture. Furthermore, and probably most damning is that despite the review process, a substantial amount of crap still seems to get built on an industrial scale.

But, I do agree that the biggest issue is the public perception of architects (or indeed any group of people), events like Open House are great, however portrayal in the media is the most problematic. Most often when a new building is considered significant enough to warrant mention in the press, or in marketing a new development, the architect or construction team are left out; in UK copyright law the architect (or author, etc) has a "moral right" to be credited in a publication of the work, although this never happens in practice (although perhaps it's only intended to apply when the client is trying to promote it rather than for the purposes of public information?)

I haven't seen much of Dermot Bannon since I moved to the UK, however from what I remember the show didn't necessarily do much to improve the image of architects (I recall one show where the builder was aggrieved that he had taken too long to issue detail drawings) Taking part in the show has been a very shrewd move on Mr Bannon's part, he's pretty much guaranteed himself work for the coming years, however I think it would have a better service to the profession if the programme showcased the work of other firms, such as A2, Donaghy Dimond, Boyd Cody, ODOS, etc, perhaps someone new each week; although I see the appeal of Dermot as a safe, everyman architect rather than some award winning "name" practice that may be intimidating and seem unrelatable to the public.

As far as websites go, I don't necessarily agree with you teak, I think simple is fine, but a general ban on Flash would go a long way.
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby massamann » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:51 am

Oh, I don't expect a requirement to have a quick chat at the planning stage will mean that people "get it". Nor do I think that its aim should be to "educate" either - I used the word 'chat' specifically because that's what I think it should be. It wouldn't be used to promote a specific type or style of architecture. It would purely be a conversation to encourage people to think about what they want to build and once they've thought about it - once they've given the idea any element of consideration - then job done. I know someone (okay, it was my sister) who when their neighbour was building a house told me how they had actually sat down during the design and thought about how big a space they wanted for the hot press - the Hot Press! no less - the smallest room in the house! She seemed to regard this consideration as an act of total lunacy, as if anyone should give any time to thinking about an item that will take them 40 years to pay for and that they will spend most of their remaining lives inside. Never ever underestimate the lack of concern that most Irish people hold for good design.

I don't think that it's in the least bit patronising for those with more knowledge/interest in a topic to try and foster it in others. It shouldn't be the case that you are telling people that their ideas are wrong; you're just giving them more ideas. But as you said, even still it's probably worth making the effort. Open House is amazing, but I do worry that there is an element of preaching to the converted. Those that attend already have an interest in architecture - we need to appeal to those that know little. I could start a rant here and talk about not just architecture, but design consciousness in the country as a whole across the whole spectrum of the creative arts, and how - patronising or not - it could do with being raised. But maybe that's a talk for a different day. They broadcast the Stirling awards in the UK on television - is it too far-fetched to think that we might try to do the same for the AAI awards each year?
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Re: Fees? What Fees?

Postby teak » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:05 am

Well, to my mind, for a Room To Improve type programme to be both true and relevant, the client ought choose their own architect.
This is always best since the design process is a real partnership between the designer and the client -- it's not a sort of job where a client can say I want XYZ and then leave it all to the nearest professional. There's an engagement process between client and house designer that is far more intimate than simply listing facts and figures -- and the programme ought reflect this clearly.
Though RTE must be subsidising the architect's fees for each programme's job, the fees side of things ought be presented and accounted for (broken down, even) on the programme also because lay people need to acquire a sense for costing and valuing building design.

I don't know if it would necessarily mean employing Flash, but architects' sites need to illustrate the different design possibilities of example jobs in a way that people can view and study them online -- that is, if architects really want to arouse interest in their own contribution to design or re-design.
And with the many idle Web Media Design graduates out there, the cost argument is no longer a real excuse.
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