Design and Planning Services of Project

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Design and Planning Services Program development Urban and regional planning Civil engineering-traffic, transit, roads, sanitary Landscape architecture and site development Building design Structural engineering Mechanical engineering

  • Electrical engineering
  • Interior design and equipment planning
  • Fine arts
  • Architectural graphics
  • Special design analysis-acoustics, lighting
  • Cost analysis
  • Drawing and specifications
  • Construction Services
  • Bidding and negotiation of contracts
  • Administration of contracts
  • Job cost accounting
  • Construction management
  • Post construction services
  • Related Services
  • Consultation on operational programming and building
  • Programming in specific building types
  • Research and testing
  • Product development and design
  • Consultation on building product manufacturing and prefabrication processes

The architect's fee for professional services varies as in any other profession. It depends on the architect's standing in the field, the geographic location in which the architect practices, and the kind of project to be done. However, one aspect of the architect's compensation remains the same throughout the profession: The architect's only remuneration is that received from the client. The architect does not accept commission or discounts on materials, equipment, labour costs, or any other item involved in project cost. This arrangement makes it clear that the architect's loyalty is to the client and to the project.

The amount of the architect's fee and method of payment are settled at the time the owner-architect agreement is executed. There are five principal methods of compensating the architect, although others may be agreed upon:
  • A percentage of the project's construction cost
  • A multiple of the architect's direct personnel expense
  • A professional fee plus the reimbursement of the architect's expenses
  • Lump sum fee
  • A salary, per diem, or hourly compensation
The percentage method is the most popular method simply be-cause it is the most convenient to compute, is tied directly to the construction cost, and, from the beginning, provides the client with a firm idea of what will have to be paid for the architect's total basic services. However, the convenience of the percentage fee depends upon a clear definition of basic services.

As these services include more and more of the expanded services discussed above most of which involve research and investigation and, therefore, cannot be precisely estimated in terms of time and cost-the percentage fee system is bound to fall from general usage. Many architects believe it will be replaced by a combination system where compensation for services would be computed as follows:
  • Programming, Schematics, and Design Development. Professional fee plus expenses, or multiple of the direct personnel expense fee.
  • Construction Documents. Lump sum fee.
  • Bidding or Negotiation. Hourly fee.
  • Contract Administration. Professional fee plus expenses or multiple of direct personnel expense.
  • Post completion. Hourly fee.
  • Other Services. Professional fee plus expenses, or multiple of direct personnel expense.
Based on general trends, a combination system of this sort will be generally employed by the profession when you enter practice some six to eight years from now.


Every office that performs architectural services has the word "architect" written on the door. Somewhere behind that door is an individual who uses the word "architect" after his or her name and who is legally authorized to use an architect's stamp on construction documents. That is where the similarity among offices stops.

The office may contain a sole practitioner or more than two hundred people. If the office is in New England, the Pacific Northwest, or the Pacific Southwest, it is highly probable that the office will contain a sole practitioner. In the East North Central and East South Central United States, it is highly likely that the office will contain a firm of twenty or more employees. The AIA regularly publishes statistics about its membership. Over 50 percent of the member firms employ fewer than five people. Over 90 percent of the firms employ fewer than twenty people. There are fewer than twenty firms in the United States with more than one hundred architect employees. These kinds of statistics also hold true in many major industrialized nations around the world.

The size of the firm often determines what kinds of work the firm can seek. Private individual clients are more likely to choose a smaller firm. The state and federal government, institutions, and large industrial clients tend to work with large firms. Firms of all sizes work with developers.

It is virtually impossible to know at the outset of an architectural career what kind of office to prepare for. As a rule of thumb, many people who begin in small offices seem to finish their careers in large firms. Those who start out in large firms, often open their own small firms in the latter years of their careers. Over half of the member firms of the AIA are under ten years old.

Most people begin a career in any design field having primarily an artistic or work satisfaction motivation. Later in their careers, economic motivation often becomes a more dominant goal, sometimes as the result of a growing family.

Every career involves the balance of these important issues. There is no question that compensation for the same level of employment is greater in a large firm. A principal in a large firm can make twice the annual salary of a sole practitioner. Even interns in a large firm earn more than small firm interns, although the difference may be only 10 or 12 percent.

It is very important to understand that the work done by employees of a small firm is quite different from that done in a very large firm. The most important difference is specialization. Generally speaking, in a small firm, everyone is expected to do more of everything. If an important job arrives in the office that requires extensive work, everyone may switch for a time to that project. One day is spent drafting, the next day may require model building, the day after could be spent on writing specifications. In a large firm, it is much more likely that the work will be more specialized. Drafts people may never write a specification or visit a construction site. A designer may also spend a large portion of his or her career on a specific type of building. If variety becomes important, moving to another firm may become necessary.
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