Architects are degree-qualified design professionals and generally have the highest level of expertise among your three options. Their professional standards are monitored by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA). You can expect them to be the most expensive option, but they are full-service professionals whose fee can cover design, and/or complete project management.
Architects may have expertise that other building design professionals do not, which makes them good choices for complex or unusual designs. You’re also likely to get a higher degree of creative input from an architect.
The cost of hiring an architect can vary widely depending on the scope of works required and the level of experience and reputation of the architect. While architects can charge a set fee or an hourly rate, it’s common for them to charge a percentage fee. As a rough guide, architects can change between eight and eighteen per cent of the total project fees. The lower percentage might be appropriate when you require more conceptual services such as sketches for planning permit applications, and the higher percentage more appropriate for full design and project management services.
You can view a real life example of a fee proposal I received from an architect for a recent project here.
You might want to engage the services of an architect when you:
- Want preliminary sketches to explore the viability of a project
- Want someone who will manage as much or as little of the entire design and construction process as you wish
- Want a more environmentally sustainable, energy-efficient home
- Need a solution to a complex residential need; for example. when building on a steep slope that utilises the fall of the land in the design of the home
- Are building in an estate with a covenant that requires you to build an architecturally designed home that adheres to specific building guidelines
- Want architectural landscape design that’s sympathetic to your home design, climate and natural environment
The Australian Institute of Architects offers a Guide to Quality Based Selection of Architects, which can be found at www.architecture.com.au/architecture/national/working-with-an-architect.
When you work with an architect you can expect that they will:
- Assess the potential design solutions for your site.
- Help you set a realistic and viable budget.
- Guide you through the town planning process.
- Obtain quotes for the work to be done.
- Manage consultants who may be required during the architectural process, such as surveyors and engineers.
- Manage the construction contract with the builders and tradespeople.
- Ensure that you get the quality of work and standard of finishes that you expect.
Architects may also provide an estimate of the costs of the works involved. View a Real Life Cost Estimate Example from a recent project of mine here.
Use an architect when you need a home designed that 'thinks outside the box'.
Architecture is the art of space
- Natalie Stevens