Common misconception on architects’ stage payments & fees… @RIAIonline mentioned

I’ve written about architects’ fees recently HERE and I’m not going to reiterate the value that you can get from appointing an architect. From a well-designed home that will increase in value over the years, to a home that is sustainable and economic to run. Instead this post concentrates on the payments that work along side the work stages of the project.

Here are the work stages of typical residential project again (paraphrased from the RIAI Domestic Agreement)

Work Stage 1: Initial Design
Work Stage 2: Developed Design (planning)
Work Stage 3: Detail Design (Construction (Tender) Information)
Work Stage 4: Construction – Inspection & certification

Up until very recently the RIAI (Domestic Agreement 2012 version) split the stages nice and equally; 25% for each. The new version (2016 version) now splits the stages as follows (extracts from the online specimen):

I frequently hear the following:

• Why is the cost for the design and drawings so front-loaded?
• Surely more of the fee should be when you’re inspecting which is when you do all the work?

In answer to these questions:

• We take an immense amount of time ensuring you have the right design for you, your family and the site. We polish and hone your design until it’s perfect. We don’t just give you 3 changes and then walk-away – we polish and hone until it’s right and our fees reflect this.

• We may have to make serious amendments and redesigns following requests from the Council in order to obtain the planning permission; again we don’t normally charge for this (which our fee reflects) and these changes can take huge amounts of time and effort – this why the percentage is slightly higher at the end of this stage.

• The inspections should ideally be the easy part of the job. We spend the time including huge amounts of information on our construction drawings and details so that there are fewer questions when the project goes to site. Also, a good contractor should then just build from the drawings with the confidence that the architect doesn’t need to be on site every few minutes sorting out problems as they are covered on the drawings. Ideally the site inspections should be the easiest and straightforward part; if they’re not it means that either a. The architect hasn’t given enough information or b. the builder either can’t or won’t follow the drawings. I’ve written about the number of inspections between good & bad contractors HERE.

I am therefore in full agreement with this key change in the RIAI Domestic Agreement and hopefully I’ve explained above why it works. Comments as always welcome…

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