This is one of the first questions clients (still) ask me – “How much will it cost?

(Psst… if you want to skip ahead and try out the fee calculator, that’s fine)

Architectural fees can either be time-based or percentage-based depending on the scale and scope of the project.  If you are looking for an architectural professional to assist you with designing a new house, a full service is recommended. A full service allows the architect to assist the client from start to finish and the entire project is divided into 6 phases. Here is a link to an article explaining each part of the full service – The Architectural Process

So if we work according to the Professional Fee Guideline (SACAP Board notice 173 of 2010) the architect’s professional fee is worked on a percentage of the project fee. So if you have a project budget of R3mil the architect’s fee falls in the range of number 4:

Fee: Base fee + (R3 000 000 x7.25%) = R 48 450 + R217 500

Total fee: R 265 950 excl VAT. 

As mentioned, this isn’t paid all at once, but rather divided up according to the phases.

1. Inception 5% of total fee= R 13 297.50
2. Concept 15% of total fee= R 39 892.50
3. Design Development 20% of total fee= R53 190
4a. Documentation: 4a Council Doc  20% of total fee= R53 190
4b. Documentation: Working drawings  10% of total fee= R26 595
5. Construction 27% of total fee= R71 806.50
6. Close Out 3% of total fee= R7978.50

The professional fee guideline also clearly explains the architectural professional’s responsibility towards the client.

Your reaction might be that all architects should be driving a sports car, but remember that the architect’s involvement with a project is from inception to completion and this could be as long as 2 years. So each client basically becomes your employer for the duration of the project. If you take the total fee and divide it by 24 months your architect is earning R11 081.25 a month before any expenses are deducted. Considering the overheads required in terms of office space, employees, software, registrations, marketing, IT, transport and other various expenses, you’ll begin to see it’s not a cash cow waiting to be milked. It remains a privilege to partake in forming of the landscape, but requires hard work, diligence and loads of courage.

Architecture is a passion and a craft for most professionals and therefore only a few projects are selected at a time to guarantee quality. Spending money on a good professional team will guarantee a more successful project, saving you time and costs in the end.

As most things in life, a fee is negotiable and therefore instead of choosing a “cheaper” solution for your project, rather get in touch with the architectural professional you feel comfortable with and negotiate the terms and conditions.