Understanding Fees

Cost of a Project

The cost of a building project depends on a number of factors such as size and location, type of building and type of project delivery (see Construction Phase).

Only a small percentage of life cycle cost (cost of a building over its lifetime) is attributed to the cost of design and construction, while a large portion can be attributed to operation and maintenance costs.

$ Project Cost =
Site + Capital + Consultant Fees + Other Costs
  • Site: purchasing land and site preparation
  • Capital: cost of constructing the building
  • Consultant fees: Architect and other professionals as required to design your project
  • Other: legal, cost estimates, site survey, geotechnical, etc.)
$ Lifecycle Cost =
Project Cost + Operating Costs
  • Project Cost: As noted to the left.
  • Operating Costs: heating, lighting, energy, etc.
  • Maintenance Costs: repairs and renewals

Before you look at Fees

Consider what you are looking for in your project. Consider Quality, Budget and Schedule and which of these aspects are most important to you for your project. Ensure that the Architect is aware of the constraints and goals that the Client and/or the building users have for the project.

Determining Architectural Fees

Each project is unique and the Architects’ fee for each project will vary based on the budget, size and complexity of the project. It is strongly recommended that the Client and Architect agree on the project requirements and then negotiate the appropriate fee. The chart below offers insight into three methods of determining fees.

Method (fee) Description Advantages
Lump Sum/Fixed Fee Fixed amount agreed upon with architect at the beginning of the project
  • Price will not change
  • Less financial risk to client
Time Basis Fees based on hourly or daily rate
  • Useful when services are difficult to determine in advance
  • Good for small projects and studies
Percentage-based Fee as percentage of construction cost
  • Allows for flexibility in project
  • Can allow for more community and client input
  • Price can change

Clients are encouraged to refer to the RAIC Guide to Determining Appropriate Fees for the Services of an Architect.