expect to get paid for my work. It's how I make my living.
This is how my clients express their
appreciation for my design services. I typically begin with a
written agreement and a retainer, work hourly, and bill monthly, with a
prompt payment schedule. At the end of the job, a comparison of
design fees and construction costs can be made. It is different
for every job, since I typically do not work on a fixed percentage
basis, but I have noticed some general trends. In the half
million dollar range, my fees can be less than five percent of
construction costs; above a million dollars, they begin approaching three percent of construction costs.
I've never designed a house that cost more than four million
dollars, but would certainly appreciate that opportunity!
half of my residential projects have construction costs between
one hundred thousand and five hundred thousand dollars. Decks are
typically even less. Renovation projects; who can say? As a
percentage of construction costs, these fees will be higher than the
larger projects. It's fairly easy to understand why: For one
thing, a one hour meeting on a smaller project takes exactly the same
amount of time as a one hour meeting on a larger project. My time
is what I am selling. The creation of a design, within limits, is
fairly independent of the square footage size of the project. In
fact, in some ways, it is more difficult to find satisfactory small
design solutions. Almost any design problem can be solved by
adding additional square feet. On the larger projects, while
there are indeed limits, there is also typically more leeway to expand
the size of the house. Finally, the complexiity of the design
plays a part in design time as well.
The most common
question regarding fees has to do with the comparison of custom designs
with internet plans. Of course it is less expensive to copy a set
of plans, than it is to create them from scratch. Often, my
clients will come to me with several internet plans, and ask me to
synthesize them. This is turning into a bit of a specialty for
me. My advice? Don't buy 'em. The thumbnail sketch of
the plan is all I need to go from. Often, I can deduct the plan
and even the dimensions of the house from the JPEG rendering that is
common to many of these websites.
you have purchased
internet plans already, remember that there are copyright issues
which I will respect and that I have not played a part in any of your
expenditures. I have never had a client ask me why my fees are so
low, but there's always hope. On the other hand, I've noticed
that when fee is the first question asked, it is often the last
question needing to be answered.