Architects’ fees: How clients manage costs for the architect
A house of architects is generally regarded as an expensive, even priceless undertaking. But those who rather frustrated come out of the eighth model housing estate, should think about an architect house. But how much does an architect really cost? Our editor Bettina has gone to the rumor about the architect’s fee on the track and has interviewed architect Henriette Schreiber.
How high is the architect’s fee really?
In search of an answer, I started a poll in my friends and acquaintances for fun. The question was: would you build an architect house? The first answer I got was “No, too expensive” or “Nobody can afford that.” That was very clear. To my question: “How much does an architect cost, how much do I have to expect?” Nobody could give me an answer. An architect’s house offers a number of advantages:
- more individuality
- Co-determination in the construction process
- Co-design of the premises
- Individual selection of building materials
That should be worth its price, right? No plaintiff, no judge. But how high is the architect’s fee? I’ll tell you the entry here: Architect’s fee: height and planning process.
One thing in advance: Around and around € 30,000 in additional costs for an architect’s house arise.
Although I have found out the cost of an architect, how does it work if I want to build a house with an architect? I talked to an expert about it. Henriette Schreiber works together with her husband Axel Schreiber in the architecture office Schreiber in Hanover. Together, they offer all phases of the architecture of the architect in building construction, from the basic information on the cost estimate to the construction management and the object support after completion. This puts them in a very broad position.
Self-made: Hello Mrs. Schreiber, nice that you have taken the time for an interview. Let’s start right away: Let’s assume a customer comes to the office and wants to have their own home planned by you: What does a typical process look like??
Henriette Schreiber: At the beginning, we inquire about the client’s request. What should be planned / built / changed, and why? In this conversation, we get to know the client and try to classify and value his wishes. It discusses the location of the construction site, the type of use, which needs must be met, when the whole thing should be realized, etc. So also the builder gets to know us. In the first conversation, it’s less about the architect’s fee, but rather about empathy: Can the client build trust in the architect? Can we convey our architectural expression to the client??
Self-made: Confidence and communication between an architect and the customer or client are prerequisites for the construction project to succeed. How is this continuing?
Henriette Schreiber: We make an appointment together to celebrate the sites. The topic of construction costs is usually only addressed in advance. Only with the preparation of the offer for the architect’s fee as a rough compilation, the builder gets presented a sum. In the later process, a common denominator between the desired construction volume and the available budget must be found.
Self-made: And what is their offer based on exactly??
Henriette Schreiber: The Architect’s fee is based on a value calculated from the estimated eligible construction costs. The whole is set up with a rough estimate, based on the data of the construction cost index (BKI). The fee for architects is always based on the fee schedule for architects and engineers (HOAI). For special services, supplements, or similar hourly rates can also be arranged. Deviations, special allowances, freely negotiable fees are also regulated here.
Self-made: According to the fee schedule there is a minimum price and a maximum price. Can it happen that the architect sets his fee higher or lower? If so, when?
Henriette Schreiber: This is at the discretion of the architect. If he assesses the cost of his activities as higher or lower, this can be a criterion to vary the architect’s fees. That is a matter of negotiation.
Henriette Schreiber: He should have precise ideas and his needs, wishes and future plans with his partner, spouse, his family and all users so to speak agreed and specified. If the client has drawings, inventory plans, floor plans, site plans, old building permits, he should make these available to the architect.
Self-made: Before a house can be built at all, one should buy a plot of land on which it stands. Help in the search for a property or the customer must already own one?
Henriette Schreiber: No, we do not help here. The client is already the owner of the property.
Self-made: During planning, it may well happen that a customer wants to build something, which is not provided for in the development plan of the region. For example, he wants to have a house with a flat roof, but only pitched roofs are allowed. Is this taken into account by you or does the client have to struggle through the regulations alone??
Henriette Schreiber: No, he does not have to. This concerns the second phase of the service, the preliminary planning and is included in the architect’s fee. Here we check the building regulations.
Self-made: Now, when such a house is planned, it takes craftsmen, who put this building into action. Also assist with the commissioning of construction companies?
Henriette Schreiber: Yes, we often recommend construction companies and ask them together with the client to make an offer for the desired construction work. In order to be able to compare the offers, we create bills of quantities in which the desired construction work is described in detail. The offers submitted by the companies are examined and evaluated and handed over to the client with a recommendation. The company is commissioned, for which the client decides.
Self-made: Now the construction is already in full swing. The client suddenly realizes that he still wants to have this or that change. How much longer can changes be made and to what extent does the architect’s fee influence this??
Henriette Schreiber: In fact, changes can still be made until the respective construction is completed.
But if a design is to be fundamentally changed again after the third time, it is sometimes called additional planning costs.
Self-made: The individual work phases of an architect can be roughly divided into a planning and a construction phase. How much time should be left between the planning of a new building and the actual construction?
Henriette Schreiber: The better a house construction planning is from the outset, the fewer disturbances will occur in the construction process. Of course, the planning phase is directly dependent on the scope of the construction project. The more complex a construction project, the longer it must be planned. In addition, there are the planning phases of the participating planners, and a currently no longer calculable time factor: the regulatory approvals.
Self-made: Let’s assume that an architect’s house is being planned. Only six months later, the construction phase begins. Until then, prices may have increased for some building materials. Could the architect’s fee rise as a result? Are there fixed prices with construction companies?
Henriette Schreiber: It all depends on the type of assignment. According to the fee structure for architects and engineers (HOAI), the architect’s fee is determined according to the cost calculation. However, as there are always changes and additional costs in the course of the construction work, all changes and the associated additional expenses must be determined as supplements. This is barely negotiable in the process. If the contractor is commissioned, its prices are binding. Only if the construction times have been contractually agreed and there is a delay in construction, the contractor can assert material cost increases. These must be announced and occupied beforehand.
Self-made: What do you advise our readers to prevent cost increases in construction costs as possible?
Henriette Schreiber: The architect should draw the client’s attention to the fact that construction prices are based on market developments. Compared to the previous year, construction costs have increased by almost five percent *. So much is currently being built that it is already difficult to even find companies that are interested in execution and then make halfway economic offers
Self-made: When exactly can there be an increase in the architect’s fee?
Henriette Schreiber: If we start from the process, the design planning including the cost calculation will be carried out on the basis of market prices of the last building projects or preliminary offers. This is followed by the planning permission phase, which also takes some time. If the construction companies are commissioned after the approval phase, there may have been price increases in the meantime. This situation always puts architects in an awkward position. It is not possible to guarantee the client a cost calculation that will last until the end of the construction project. It warns the architect before contracted cost guarantees.
Self-made: Now one last question: who is liable if something goes wrong on the construction site?
Henriette Schreiber: That depends on what goes wrong and who is the cause. For example, in case of design errors, if the architect plans something against the client’s wishes, then it may be necessary to improve and reschedule. On the other hand, if the client changes his wishes, the client has to pay for the planning change in a certain planning state. When object monitoring then several parties are involved.
Self-made: Thank you for the interview!
* According to the construction price index, the construction cost increases between 4/2017 and 4/2018 are given as 4.7 percent.
Next time in our specialist series:
Renovation of house and yard: Architect Inke Paulse from Lübeck gives tips on how to revamp old buildings again.
Financing of architects and new building costs:
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