How much does an architect cost? (again) & variations…

I’ve written about this previously but I’m adding a couple of interesting bits here. The purpose of this blog post isn’t going to discuss the normal ways that an architect charges. The RIAI has an excellent section on their website covering this, CLICK HERE to see this. Architect Bob Borson has also written on this subject CLICK HERE FOR THIS INFORMATION.

Instead this blog post covers the architects fees when changes are made during the build.

It should first be emphasised that any changes should be kept to a minimum; what can seem like a simple change can have massive repercussions further down the line with consultants work, additional information etc… The way to reduce these ‘variations’ are to ensure that the construction drawings, specification and tender information are as thorough as possible. Too often I see builds rushing ahead with the most barest of information; in Ireland frequently I see works built from the planning drawings which include the absolute minimum of specification (frequently just enough notes for Building Regulations) and absolutely no detail regarding the exact finishes and details.

What I’m talking about requires great thought and input from the client; just a few examples could be:

  • Type, finish and design of doors, skirting, architraves
  • Type of tiles for walls & floors, timber flooring, staircase…
  • Shower enclosures, type, finish, who’s fitting them…
  • Toilet roll holders, medicine cabinets…
  • Curtain rails…

    The list is endless.

    It should be very clear therefore that if a ‘variation’ occurs which requires the architect to produce more work then obviously that work would need to be paid for. The rules are very straightforward and are covered in the RIAI Agreements (the following is for when the architect is paid on a percentage of the construction cost):

    1. After building work is done, the value [on which the architects fee is based] is taken from the final total construction cost for the work.

    2. The architect is paid on a basis of the final total construction cost (described above) which obviously includes variations, “including fitting-out and loose furniture work with which the architect is involved.”. The last few words here are very important ‘which the architect is involved’; there needs to therefore be some form of coordination of drawings or additional drawings/detail drawing, coordinated administrative work or additional site supervision/inspection in order for this to be the case.

    Contrary to popular belief, as an architect I do not want to push the price up in order to get more money; I want to deliver a project on time and to the clients budget – if the client wants to spend more on any particular aspect that requires additional work, responsibility or inspection then I should be paid for that work.

    Raft corner

    Here's a corner of a recently poured raft foundation; I check levels and dimensions, steel fixings, formwork and Radon barrier with structural engineer prior to pouring and then a check after then check again after pour prior to blockwork construction for curing.

    A special thanks to Architects Isabel Barros and Form Architecture and as always Bob Borson for their input on this topic.

    Comments as always welcome…

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