architectural fees for homes and buildings explained

Nature of Architectural & Professional Fees


The nature of architectural fees and any professional fees is not like buying a vehicle on a car lot or loaf of bread in a supermarket.  Those are nearly identical PHYSICAL things that are a commodity.  An architect’s services are Not a commodity.  All architect’s services and experience are Not identical, which is what it takes to make something a commodity.

What is meant by this: architectural design and documentation is so complex that no architect can possibly master all types of architecture for every location on Earth.  Each architect tends to specialize in certain types of facilities and project types.  No two architects have exactly the same education, experience, knowledge and ability for every type of possible project.

Examples: some architects design high-rise office buildings for major metropolitan areas, like New York City or Shanghai.  Other architects design 7-11 convenience stores.  Still others specialize in custom home design.  Others design nuclear power facilities.  Does it sound reasonable that those specializing in one of those types of projects would be the best choice to design the others?  For instance: the nuclear power facility architect to design a custom house?  Or the high-rise architect to design a grocery or general store?  Probably not a good idea.
Why: because there are tens of thousands of detailed bits of information, codes, best practices, specifications, details and other factors involved in “getting it right,” for any type of architecture.  It takes decades to master a particular type of complex facility.  You really wouldn’t want to hire an architect that is a “Jack of all trades and master of none.”  You want to engage the architect that is the best at what they do, for your type of project, if you want the best results.
Why: because architects are Not a commodity.  There is so much to learn and practice and master with any type of project that it is impossible to be really good at all of them.  There’s only enough time on this planet for each architect to become very good at perhaps one, maybe two project types, and they better be strongly related.



What architects do is provide a professional SERVICE, which is not a physical thing.  It is intellectual know-how creating something new that has never existed before.

One the biggest mistakes a potential client of an architect can make is to ask the architect “How much are some prints?”  That potential client will have immediately distinguished themselves as someone who does not value the services of the architect.  Architects really don’t even provide blueprints any more.  Architects DESIGN and document a project’s construction documents  for a client, then will issue electronic documents as PDFs.  There usually are no “prints” involved any more.  Clients no longer “buy prints.”  That’s not what a client buys. A client of an architect rents the brain of the architect to design and document and help manage the creation of a new building or home or other project type on our planet.  The architect does not provide “prints;” rather, the architect provides brainpower and computerized technology to design for clients.

Yes, it is true that architects do provide electronic “sheets” of drawings depicting the design of a building, home or other project type.  That is the END RESULT, not something that pops out of the architect’s head instantly.  It takes many hundreds of hours for architects to design and document the projects they create for clients.  In some cases, thousands of hours.  THAT’s mainly what clients are paying for: the architect’s TIME, spent creating and documenting the design.