WORKING WITH AN ARCHITECT
“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us."
For some, working with an Architect is secondhand. The process is familiar, the costs are expected, and there are no questions about who performs what tasks. For others, hiring an Architect can seem like an overwhelming experience. Where do you even start? It's probably really expensive, and how is one to know what the end product will be?
WHY HIRE AN ARCHITECT?
There are several reasons why an Architect should be consulted for a project. Most importantly, Architects are tasked with supporting the Health, Safety, and Welfare of a project's occupants. Depending on the type of project, there can be several different building codes that need to be followed to ensure that the project can be built.
Secondly, almost all projects have multiple parties who need to be in constant communication and kept speaking the same language about your project. Contractors, Building Code Officials, Consulting Engineers, product suppliers, tenants, utilities, etc. all need to be on the same page and can be managed by your Architect to ensure that the process goes smoothly for you.
Lastly, and of course not in the least, Architects can help turn your ideas into aesthetically successful buildings and spaces to enhance the environment in which we all live. There's always an easy way, there's always a quick way, and there's always a right way.
Before you reach out to an Architect, there are several questions you should ask yourself. What am I trying to achieve with my project? What is my budget? When do I want to be finished?
You may not necessarily have answers to all of those questions yet, but they are sure to be some of the first that arise in our initial conversations. You may know what you want to do, but have no thoughts on what a range of cost may be to build it, or how long that may take. We'll review all of the factors specific to your project that contribute to those answers.
Proposal: After determining that we'd like to work together, Studio m will submit a proposal for services. This is not only to agree on a cost for the design work, but also to outline the goals, services, and tasks that are intended to be performed to ensure that we both understand the scope. Depending on the size of the project, there is usually a retainer required to start. For more information of fees, see below.
Process: Traditionally called "basic services", there are several phases of the process: Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bid/Negotiation, and Construction Services. Based on the size and scope of your project, Studio m may be involved in one or all of these phases. It's a common misconception that it will be less expensive to utilize architectural services for fewer phases. Although this could reduce the cost of professional services, it may not reduce the cost of the overall project. Maintaining architectural services throughout the construction process can potentially save time, aggravation, and most importantly, money. It could also be the case that all your project requires is just a bit of design assistance or input at the beginning of the process. Studio m will help determine how involved you need an Architect to be.
There are various ways that Studio m structures the fee for your services and of course the cost will ultimately be determined by the type, scope, and scale of your project.
Hourly: This is as simple and straightforward as it gets. The current hourly rates will be presented to you along with an estimate of the amount of hours it could take to complete the scope of work. Sometimes this can be combined with a minimum (to protect Studio M) or a maximum (to protect you).
Flat fee: This is the most common and also fairly straightforward. Utilizing past experience, project information, and anticipated complexity, Studio m will present a fee that covers the cost of the work performed, regardless of how much time it takes to complete it. Typically, the fee is divided into amounts and assigned to the various phases of the job.
Percentage of construction: For some projects, a percentage of construction cost is used to determine the Architectural fee. This is based on the concept that the construction cost reflects the complexity and scope of the project and is usually fairly accurate. Percentages can range anywhere from 5% to 15% (with some smaller projects having higher percentages, and some larger projects having lower).
Square footage based: This type of fee structure most often comes into play during interior fit-out of existing space and is a good tool for developers or repeat clients to utilize when working with their potential future tenants to calculate the cost of bringing someone into their space. Typically square footage fee structures are tiered with discounts given for higher amounts of footage.
The only way to ultimately understand how an Architect can work for you is to have the conversation. For Studio m, there is no job too small or no challenge not worth exploring. There are people and businesses who need assistance and our intent is to make Architectural Services available to a wider variety of people, even if it's just giving some advice.
On the other hand, the 13+ years of experience and variety of projects that have been completed mean that larger jobs are no problem either. The constant struggle of smaller firms is the perception that they may not be able to handle larger jobs. In actuality, most large projects (regardless of the size of the firm) are handled primarily by one or two people (while also working on 4 or 5 other jobs). Size of firm is less important than amount of experience, and dedication to your project is paramount.
Get in touch with Studio m to see how your project can benefit.