There are many different ways for architects to charge for their professional services; hourly rates, percentage of construction,
some combination of the two, a la carte based on specific phase of service (i.e. design/preliminary plans (PP), design
development (DD), construction documentation (CD), bidding and negotiation (BN), and construction administration (CA), or a
cost per square foot of construction.
At Michael Merino Architects, we typically use either the hourly or percentage of construction methods. For us, this represents the
most direct path for our clients to understand our billings. However, as straight forward as that seems, the information below seems
to assist our customers in understanding the process and making fee decisions:
* HOURLY FEES
Fairly simply, we have an hourly chart for the different level positions noted below and you are charged that rate for the time spent. We typically use
this billing method when the scope of the project is NOT very clear, is unknown at the start, or we have a client who prefers this method of billing.
Generally speaking, most customers donít like being charged an hourly fee for fear of getting a surprise when the bill comes. As a result, when the
work is charged hourly, we try and reduce concerns for the client by capping the amount or identifying financial milestones that indicate progress
along the way.
As of January 1st, 2013 our office hourly billing rates are:
Principal - $150
Associate Principal - $120
Project Architect - $110
Project Manager- $95
Job Captain - $85
Senior Draftsman - $75
Draftsman - $60
Junior Draftsman - $50
Clerical - $45
* PERCENTAGE OF CONSTRUCTION COST FEES
These percentages vary by project but generally fall in the 8% to 15% range. This is our preferred method of determining our fee but one of the
things that can always cause confusion is what exactly counts as part of the cost of construction. A good rule of thumb is to consider any scope
where architectural coordination is required as part of the cost of construction. A good rule of thumb is to consider anything that is "hard
construction" (i.e. constructed or installed by the contractor) to be part of the cost of construction and items such as furnishings or non-fixed
equipment as NOT part of the cost of construction.
* PER-SQUARE FOOT FEES
We find this method unreliable and unreasonable. There is just NO way to assign a generic fee for a particular square foot of construction
because the scope of a particular project could vary so greatly. For example, a residence in the Hollywood Hills with customized "everything"
requiring dozens of drawings could not be charged the same fee as a ranch-style "spec house" in a tract located anywhere else. Remodels are
even more difficult to charge using this method depending on the amount of funds that a customer wants to invest in the modifications.
* REQUESTS FOR FEE QUOTATIONS OVER THE TELEPHONE - We receive a request for a fee quotation over the telephone at least
once a week. Unfortunately, for three specific reasons alone, we believe that providing a quote over the telephone is poor business
1. IT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE WRONG: there is no way for us to provide a quote without sitting down with you face-to-face to get a better
understanding of your project. There is just not enough time in a short telephone conversation on which to base a reliable fee quotation.
2. IT'S PROBABLY AGAINST THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA: The State of California requires that EVERY licensed architect have a written contract
with a customer. If you receive a fee quote over the telephone, you will probably NOT see that same fee in the final written contract since there are
so many issues to address when negotiating that contract. Therefore, the telephone quote may be an "implied contract" that violates the law.
3. IT'S PROBABLY NOT ETHICAL: Sometimes sales people give you a quote over the phone to "get you in the door." We believe that good
customer service starts from the first moment and so we prefer to get to know you and build a relationship of trust that reinforces that highest level of