There are several methods used to calculate design fees. We recommend you do some market research on line as well and get a couple competitive bids. If you do get a couple prices, its important that you give both parties the same exact instructions and scope of work so you know you are comparing 'apples to apples'. We would be happy to provide your project a template to request a proposal that can be used to solicit as many architects as you want.
For Windward Design, this is how we calculate our services and fees:
Level One Services - 3.5% of construction costs, services would include the following:
Level Two Services-3.75%
Level Three Services-4%
Add contractor bid and selection assistance that includes
Level Four Services-5%
Its important to look at total development costs, that include construction costs. Total development costs(excluding land purchase) would include:
Other unique site conditions could also come into play.
Construction costs can vary just for the building even within the same geographic area, simply because contractors know some areas can tolerate higher prices for the same work done cheaper elsewhere. For example building a house in Laguna Beach can easily cost over $300 sf for the same construction size and quality say in Murrieta, Califorina that would be about $150 sf.
We work closely with several contractors and developers for residential work, so we can update our opinion of cost regularly. This is important at the beginning of the design process so the project stays in the budget goals of our clients.
As a specific example of one project recently quoted to me in 2019: A 2,400 sf house with a 2 car garage, grading and retaing walls for the garage under the house, design, permits, septic,, minimal basic landscape for a spec house in Escondido was completed for $185 sf of the residential space.
We use to do our own structural engineering which is legally permitted for architects to do. However we have found its worth the extra fees for a structural engineer to the developers. This is because they are more expertise in using the code structural formulas so the structural system is not over engineered, saving substantial cost to the developer in areas such as shear walls and beam sizes.
If your project is 'raw' land that requires a grading permit we would recommend these basic consultants:
(if the site is already a graded pad, the architect can normally provide the necessary drawings and specs to obtain a permit)
Other works we feel can most economically include design with the construction, thereby reducing your costs are:
All of these can be done with contractors, vendors or fabricators that are providing the work, in what we call 'design/build' agreements, saving significant design fees. My experience you get much better and more practical 'design' for these works from the contractors and vendors of this work.
We can do any style you want for your project. We don't forget, this is your investment not ours.
For us the key elements for the design process is to solve the design challenge to your satisfaction. The 'style' whether its a minimalist, historical or regional or rendition of some other classical style such California Bungalow, Wright, Irving Gill, Kendrick Kellog organic,,ultimately our goal is to make it uniquely your own form based on meeting your 'functional' requirements.
As an example, a developer client was doing a complete remodel of a 1970's house and wanted an updated finish out and new look for this property in Rancho Santa Fe. As they went through several strategies we explored to radically different architectural styles.
We are all on board with the concept that developing a residence should be approached as an investment. We would go one step further and say it should be viewed as a business venture. To a developer this is understood from the outset of the project design, but may be less thought of for first time home builders.
Here are some thoughts I consider in developing a residential project:
It is not all about money when considering a design solution:
Be aware of the site and what it offers you, for views, privacy and what I call the 'big money scene',,that special quality of space or feature that will make it a unique property
Part of the design solution can rest outside the zone of what you are actually building, see the case study below
Beach area property project
Pictured above, the owner of this property was saddled with a 1,000 sf 2 bedroom house and an unpermitted structure from the previous owner. By working with the municipality they were able to get variances to replace the unpermitted cottage in the back and get the property re-zoned to R3, allowing them to convert this single residence property into an income producing beach area property that can produce over $8,000 in monthly rental income. In the final product the property had one 2 bedroom house, two studio apartments and a tandem garage!