In consideration of the comprehensive professional services rendered by the Architect, s/he shall be paid professional fees and other charges. In India, the fees to be paid are prescribed by the Council of Architecture. However, it is not rigidly followed and the fees can vary very significantly, depending on the requirements and complexity of each project and the scope of services provided. For this reason there are no set or standard fees.
As an Architect, I know architects who charge a percentage of the estimated total cost of the project and others who may charge a lump-sum amount or Per Square foot rate if the project cost is within Rs. 20 Lakhs. How an Architect charges, depends totally on the capabilities of the architect and his design specialization. Here I have discussed the fees of an Architect under the following headings:
On what basis is the Architect’s fees decided?
Why is an Architect paid so much?
How is the Architect’s fees calculated?
What does actual project cost mean?
Does the Architect’s fees change if the project cost changes?
How much do only designs of an Architect cost?
Can the fees of the Architect be made lump-sum instead of percentage?
Who pays for the consultants – the Architect or the Client?
Is service tax included in the Architect’s fees?
What are the reimbursable expenses to be paid to an Architect?
SO ON WHAT BASIS IS THE ARCHITECT’S FEES DECIDED?
Generally speaking large, new build projects attract much lower percentage fees than small works or existing buildings. Commercial works attract lower fees than private residential works whereas works to historic or listed buildings, buildings with complexity and requiring more bespoke design will attract higher fees and so on. A ‘signature’ architect may charge more than an ‘unknown’. In times of recession, architects may struggle to find work, and may offer lower fees simply to keep work flowing through the office, conversely in boom years, they may not have enough staff to meet demand and so will push fees up.
WHY IS AN ARCHITECT PAID SO MUCH ?
The Architect’s fees varies between 6% to 15% of the project cost. People wonder why the fees are high. The Architect’s services are so vast and comprehensive that he should be remunerated for:
- Involvement from the concept stage to the completion of the building,
- The efforts involved in preparing designs,
- The cost involved in making drawings and other documents,
- The cost of supervision in terms of time of the Architect,
- The fees paid to the different Consultants appointed by the Architect, and
- Adequate compensation for responsibilities undertaken by the Architect.
HOW IS THE ARCHITECT’S FEES CALCULATED?
The fees payable to the Architect shall be computed as a percentage (see Scale of Charges chart) of the Actual Cost of the project works, as on completion. The fees listed in the scale of charges is the minimum payable for the Architect’s services. However, depending on the requirement of the Client, the Architect may be willing to provide advice and ideas for a reduced fee or taper services to suit the Client’s budget.
WHAT DOES ‘ACTUAL PROJECT COST’ MEAN?
The ‘Actual cost of the project’ shall be the actual cost of the completed building work as calculated on the accepted tenders, including the cost of Structural, Sanitary, Plumbing and Electrical work, Sanitary and Electrical fittings & fixtures, lifts, escalators and all items on which the Architect has rendered professional services, but shall exclude the cost of the Client’s site office, cost of land and cost of supervisory staff at the site.
DOES THE ARCHITECT’S FEES CHANGE IF THE PROJECT COST CHANGES?
If there are substantial changes to the project, there will be additional work for the Architect. To cover that contingency, the fees should be renegotiated if the Project Cost substantially changes or increases. Alternatively, the fees may be set as a percentage of the actual cost, so it will automatically change if the project cost goes up.
HOW MUCH DO ONLY DESIGNS OF AN ARCHITECT COST?
Roughly speaking, an Architect’s work is broken into 3 stages. The first stage is design and planning. The second stage is detailed working drawings, tender drawings and tendering. The third stage is construction administration and supervision.
For only designs: So if a Client wants only designs and planning, the fees will be approximately one third of the full fees. Sometimes architects offer a plan and elevation for a standard site for a very nominal fee. But in my opinion, it is not advisable to go for such packages because the are not custom made for your site and your requirements.
Design and working drawings: If the Client wants only the design and working drawings necessary for his Contractor to construct (and does not require the Architect’s supervision), then the fees will be approximately half of the full fees.
CAN THE FEES OF AN ARCHITECT BE MADE LUMP-SUM INSTEAD OF A PERCENTAGE?
The fees can be made Lump-Sum Fees, if it is the intention and desire of the Architect and Client that the fees be frozen at the time of award of the Contract. This protects the client in case the project cost goes up (which it invariably will) on completion. Also in the event of any unforeseen events, changes in drawings, tenders and estimates cannot be charged extra.
WHO PAYS FOR THE CONSULTANT’S FEES – THE ARCHITECT OR THE CLIENT?
Aside from the architect, the project will require the inputs of consultants such as structural engineers, electrical, plumbing, sanitary, air-conditioning consultants and specialists like a quantity surveyor on larger projects, who will monitor costs. Normally, the Architect appoints these consultants and pays them in accordance with the Conditions of Engagement and Scale of Fees prescribed by the respective professional Institutions.
IS SERVICE TAX INCLUDED IN THE ARCHITECT’S FEES?
Any tax levied by law, such as Service Tax, etc contingent to professional services rendered by the Architect, shall be payable by the Client, over and above the gross fees charged by the Architect. Sometimes the Architect agrees to include the Service tax in the total fees decided by the two parties.
WHAT ARE THE REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES TO BE PAID TO AN ARCHITECT?
In addition to the fees payable, the Client will reimburse the Architect towards actual expenses of the following:
- Return air fare or first class A.C. train fare for any out-station visits made by the Architect or his professional staff and first class train fare for non-professional staff to the out-station site in connection with the execution of work.
- Actual lodging and boarding and local transport costs.
- Cost of Presentation Drawings, Perspectives, models, computer simulation etc., if required by the Client.
- Costs could also arise from planning application charges and commencement notices such as newspaper and site notices.
In India, the scale of charges to be paid to an Architect is prescribed by the Council of Architecture, but most people do not know it. The Scale of Charges recommended by the Council for housing, interior and landscape design, Site development, conservation, alterations, urban design and graphic design have been described here:
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