Architect price sky high and then reconsiders after we do???

lmrinc_gwJune 26, 2013

If an arch quotes 27k and after we say that's insanely high (based on other quotes) and then "reconsiders" because they really want to work on the project, doesn't that make him look bad?

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Have you ever changed your mind? Did it make you look bad?

Do you want to work with her/him? Why do you post here?

FWIW, $27K is not "insanely high" for traditional architectural services, since you will pay much more than that on extra charges during construction.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Sophie Wheeler

A custom build isn't for a starter home. There are plenty of affordable homes for sale everywhere for those just beginning their journey in life. For those that want to build a home that reflects their needs and wants, that's what a custom build offers---at a premium. Building custom costs more than building 1 of the 10 subdivision plans that a builder has done 20 times over that have Chinese menu pricing. You're not getting a WalMart house when you go custom. You're not getting Nordstroms. You're getting haute couture. You're getting something created for you by an expert who does nothing else and understands more about how to do it well than you could ever learn in 10 years of playing around with $500 software.

27K is less than 10% of the cost of a budget 300K custom build. Or less than 5% of a 600K build. It's not a high price at all for full architectural design services. And, as Virgil says, on the typical pay for an internet plan and make a zillion changes and then still have problems and change orders, it actually works out to be much less than the money you will spend on all of that. You'll end up with a better product as well. With specs that will actually be stuff that you want in your house instead of a million lowball allowances that you have to pay to upgrade.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:05PM
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What size house are you talking about here? What style?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:20PM
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No, it doesn't make him look bad.

An architect's fee proposal is simply the product of the time he thinks it will take him to design and document the building times an hourly rate. No one can be sure how many hours it will take to design a house and the hourly rate varies with the scope of the project and the staff needed unless the architect is a sole-practitioner.

Then there is the issue of how busy he is. When a small office over commits to work it means overtime often by the principals. Young architects can work 80 hours a week but old ones can't.

The fact that you would tell him his fee is high is an indication that you probably find his work superior to some of the lower bids which makes those architects look bad.

I have only been asked to bid against other architects a dozen or so times in 40 years. I never regretted losing a project and several owners later asked me to take over the project.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 9:01

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:01AM
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Him reconsidering is a sign that he finds your project interesting enough to want to participate. So, he's factoring in that into his pricing and is willing to take a slightly lower rate to be able to work with you. That's a compliment to your job.

As others have said, that's NOT sky high pricing for the services that you will receive. Having an accurate spec list for the products that you want to use, and having the details all thought out by someone who knows what they are doing would cost you more on a cheapo "mill" plan than paying for what you want from the beginning. Look at any post on here regarding "allowances" if you don't believe that one! People all the time get a $1500 lighting allowance, and end up spending 6K. Same with tile. They get a 5K allowance and end up actually spending 15K. Plus the change order fees.

Architectural services pay for themselves overnight when you consider the actual costs that most builds create for themselves by poor specifying and poor detail delineation.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Agree that 27K is not sky high for architect's fees. Whether it's good value for you depends on the scope of your project. If your budget is 300K then maybe you should consider stock plans. If it's 600K+ then it may be well worth it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Ok, I should add...for the exact same project, the quotes have been around 5-10k...resulting in shock when we got the 27k quote.

We will adding on to a 1800 sqft cabin...

We are not getting design service, we are doing that ourselves so we are just getting to construction plans. This is why we are thinking that price is far too high.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Does seem high for that level of service. Are all of these architects proposing the same services, and are they all licensed? I would have expected that to include schematic design & design development...or construction phase / post-design services. Do you have a lot of custom details, millwork, tile patterns, etc. that you're leaning on the architect to flesh-out as part of the construction documents? Whoever you go with, make sure complete specifications are part of the service. Although you won't have had the benefit of the architect's expertise in early design phases, strongly consider keeping him or her on during construction to help make sure you get what's in the contract.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:49PM
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In the words of Renovator8, "Why bring a sandwich to a banquet?"

The value of good design can be invisible to many people. That doesn't mean that it's not valuable. People notice homes in which there isn't room enough between the island and dining table for people to pass. They notice when all of the furniture in the great room has to "float" to have any passageways through it, and yet there isn't an electrical outlet anywhere in the middle to power a lamp. People notice when an addittion SCREAMS "addition" rather than looking like it actually was part of the home's original structure.

When you go to any true design professional (as opposed to a mere scrivener drafter.) you receive the benefit of how to create a well designed space rather than just the most expedient or trendy box. The knowledge base that creates a well designed space includes the knowledge of how the sun will travel across the space and how to take advantage of that, the psychological implications of spatial dimensions and how that will affect your family's interactions, the logical spatial flow from public spaces to private spaces, the implications of universal design and how it impacts you and your guests and resale appeal, and the legal code requirements for your health and safety in the space.

Bad design is obvious. Good design is invisible.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Kathy Harrington

We too, were in sticker shock, when we started getting quotes from architects. Ours, however, were all in the same ball park, (out of it :)) We spent a lot of time talking with each of them, looking at their work, checking their references. In the end we went with the one who we clicked with and felt it would be a comfortable collaboration. The fact that he came back after the fact with an offer not to exceed the price we agreed on, was icing on the cake. We thought that was a positive sign. Now 6 months later, he has been worth every penny and more. He has made our project enjoyable!
Good luck with your decision

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:18PM
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How much are you adding on? If not much, you might only need a drafts person to draw it up and have an engineer sign off on it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Heck yeah, robin! Why not just slap some 2xs together with a few 20-penny nails and call it quits?

Might not even need the chain-saw!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Your quoted price is not bad at all. For a 4000 sq ft home with a 2000 sq ft finished basement we were receiving quotes from two different architects for $37,500 and $55,000.

The $55,000 quote also included interior design and construction administration services.

The $37,500 quote was fairly stripped down in what we would receive before extra costs would be accrued.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I'm not a draftsman but it's obvious virgil you have NO respect for them!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 10:17PM
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IMO Virgil's comment does not discredit drafters but homeowners who would hire an architect to draft their design. But if you are concerned ask him.

I suspect the architect quoted a fee for full design services because, in my experience, little of such designs survive the first meeting.

My only objection to the OP's original post is the use of an exaggerated characterization like "sky-high". It's a poor way to start a problem solving discussion because it suggests the OP is more interested in complaining and sympathy than useful information.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Mon, Jul 1, 13 at 11:34

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 5:57AM
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Boy, this thread really took a turn for the worst.

In my opinion, receiving a quote 5 times more than all 6 previous quotes warrants the use of the term "sky high!

If I were to hire a world class, top-notch arch, this would be a different story. I'm not trying to build the Taj Mahal here.

The most expensive architect was also the most tardy, ill-prepared and disorganized. I don't know why most of the commenters assumed he was the best, solely based on price.

We have designed most of the additions ourselves, showed them to every architect and waited for the proposals. My husband, a graphic designer, is no architect, but can sketch a floorplan better than most typical consumers. Our design is important to us since we are the ones that know how we live. I know most are probably thinking "Then why would you hire an architect?" We are hoping that they will polish our design and come up with things we aren't thinking of, as well as manage the technical logistics of ideas.

Since I don't deal with multiple architects on a regular basis, I wanted to know if this was common behavior, I'm not looking for sympathy and a venus to complain.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 3:11PM
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Some of the responses in this thread have me wondering if the requirements for being an architect are (in no particular order): a sense of entitlement; a god complex; thin-skinned; prima donna.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:25PM
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The relevant question should not be why the architect's proposal was non-responsive but why the OP would not simply reject it and move on. Why tell him he was high if you didn't want him to lower it? Why criticize him for doing what you wanted him to lower his price? There's a strange agenda here and yes it is a bit irritating but not really important enough to take the anti-architect bait.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 6:40AM
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Yes, I agree that this was a rather odd post in the first place, as if the OP was simply looking for confirmation of their reaction to the architect's proposal. It really doesn't seem that the OP wants advice or the benefit of experience.

If the purpose of the post was simply to "flog" an architect, all one has to do is read the ridiculous "saying" posted on the home page of the Building a House forum, which the web site managers refuse to remove, despite repeated requests as being unnecessarily offensive and demeaning.

LIfe is short, and little is gained by "flogging" anyone.

Carry on!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:59PM
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so no one is ever supposed to question what an architect charges?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 4:16PM
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FQ, anyone may question any thing any time. That's not the OP's point. The OP stated "doesn't that make him look bad"...!

Given that the fee quotation is not out of line for traditional architectural services, what's the point of asking such a question?

If the OP wants to walk away, why not just do so? And if the OP wants to work with the architect why not do so?

The original post makes little sense and experienced advice obviously is being ignored.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Virgil, you and I both know that if we were both given a dime for every nonsensical post here on gardenweb, we'd be sitting on a mountain of cash inside of three months! ;-)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Yes, that's very true, FQ. Perhaps it's best to just ignore this thread in the future--it makes so little sense.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Yes, PLEASE ignore this post from now on. You haven't really been helpful to me since you've just dissected my question for yourself, instead of prompting more questions.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 6:35PM
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A. How many sq ft are you adding to the cabin, a few hundred sq ft or a few thousand?

B. Will the architect be involved in the bidding process and construction administration?

We went with an architect for design, bidding, and construction administration, and I can say that it has been worth every penny (getting through permitting, dealing with various construction "situations", etc.).

Generally, depending on the scope of your build and area you should probably plan for between 7-12% for architect's fees.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 8:08PM
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It was just a fee proposal. If you like the architect enough to tell him his price was high you should be happy he lowered it. Make up your mind what you want out of this situation and work toward it without unnecessary characterizations and rancor.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 8:36PM
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That seems really high to me. Our architect firm came highly recommended and charged $1 per sq foot plus some additional costs for 3d renderings. So for a 4000 sq ft house it cost about $5200 I think. And they have been amazing giving us exactly what we want, providing excellent ideas, and reasonable turnarounds. Couldn't be happier. Not sure if it matters what part of the country you're in, maybe that impacts the cost? We are located in Austin TX. Note: our cost doesn't include landscape design although they do offer those services.

To answer your initial question though, yes it seems odd that he changes the price without changing the scope. Although maybe he's just saying he's going to discount his bottom line hourly rate because he needs the work. I think that's understandable.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:36AM
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