11:48 AM 05/01/2012
Hi - We're struggling with how to proceed on renovating our 3 floor Park Slope brownstone. It's relatively livable but systems are totally outdated (forced hot air through fire place vents that barely work; original plumbing and electric; 1950s kitchen and two original bathrooms, etc).
We want to do a renovation that improves these major issues, but doesn't get out of control. However, we've interviewed lots of architects, and are consistently hearing architect fees at 15-20% of total construction, based on minimum $500k budget.
Any thoughts on how reasonable this is? Are these fees fairly standard for good quality architects? Should we use a design build firm instead?
Would appreciate any advice from folks who have recently renovated. Thank you!
Hi. We offer architecture, engineering, and construction management services. We've completed numerous brownstone projects under this 'design-build' format. I'd welcome an opportunity to discuss your project with you.
12:09 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
Hi there, I can tell you that the range for architect fee is usually 10% to 20% of the construction budget, and some firms have a minimum fee regardless of the construction budget.
From my perspective, we have done work of any budget, and our fees have ranged within the 10% and 20% of the construction budget, but we don't have minimum fees arangements.
We are available for initial consultation. Feel free to reach out to us either by email or phone.
A bit about our firm: Archi[te]nsions is an innovative architecture and urban design office operating globally from our New York office. The firm expertise varies from architecture to interior design and product design, with extensive international experience on residential and cultural buildings. Our projects have varied in size and budget, and as such we are very flexible with the goal of matching clients needs and expectations, while providing outstading designed solutions.
We can send a portfolio as well. I'm the principal very detail and design oriented. Worked for 4 years with Steven Holl architects.
12:26 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
I think it depends on what you want to get out of this process. Do you just want to update the kitchen/baths and MEP systems without greatly altering your layout and space, or do you want to take a moment and re-think your home and how it can best be altered to serve you and your family's needs/wants?
If you are interested in the latter, then I would encourage you to work with an architect.
As for the fee, 15% and up is fairly standard, but there are architects out there that will work for less. I wouldn't give up just yet.
12:34 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
How much of the design work can you do yourselves? I drew up all my floor plans and made decisions about kitchens, bathrooms, materials etc etc. Then I had an expeditor/architect draw the plans up, pull the permits etc for a flat fee. It's a few years ago now, but I think it was around $15-20K. The entire project ran about $400K.
12:50 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
Interesting that, in asking about the costs and value of architects' contribution, you get responses from three architects... That said, the flip side of arch_tect's response is that if you do NOT want to reconfigure your walls, etc., you may be able to get by without an architect. We completely rewired our house, re-did most of the plumbing, and re-did two kitchens and two and a half baths, and acted as our own GC. Used licenced plumbers and electricians, who did all the necessary permits. Granted, we knew what we wanted, and were comfortable acting as GC (and took time off work to do it). If you are not comfortable with the latter, you'll need a GC. If you don't know what you want (or want to move walls, doors, etc.) you'll need an architect - but only then.
12:50 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
You might want to consider a single architect, rather than a firm. Less overhead can mean less fee. Take myself for example (shameless plug), I would be able to beat those rates. I also have wonderful and well priced contractors, expeditors and engineers that I can obtain proposals from. Email me for more info. If not- best of luck on your project!
12:55 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
I would not do this without an architect unless you plan to be around a lot and you have the knowledge to make sure your GC is doing everything right. That said, do you need your architect for the design details -- finishes, colors, all sorts of choices like soffets/no soffets etc., or just for the building guts. Flip side is, many architects are more into the design stuff and either too deferential to contractors or too cautious and order up too much belts and suspenders caution in the building specs.
When you interview architects in the house, ask them the guts questions -- how woul dyou deal with x, what woul dyou recommend for y, etc. You want to see where they are coming from. But if the architect's role peters out when you get to the finishing touches, and they are not drawing up fancy designs for the kitchen, the price ought to be lower.
1:08 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
Hello, We also offer architeture and design services and always end up not more than 10% of the construction budget. Would be happy to discuss your project.
1:43 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
Re: Augustiner's comment -- no, you are not paying for architect to "be around" but at the prices being discussed you ought to be getting a reasonable amount of site visits with thorough reviews of the construction. You are paying an architect in part to protect your interests vis a vis the GC, who (even honest ones) have incentives to cut corners. But an archtiect can do that through periodic visits in a way that a lay person cannot. .
2:31 PM 05/01/2012 | 1 Votes
If you just want to update you electrical and heating, I would just do it under the radar and cut out all the sharks.
If you want to do it official and you have to move 1-2 walls - have your layout drawn (app. 5000 with a drafting company, most likely NOT included in your architect fee anyway) and have a mechanical engineer draw in the stuff for new heating, and file it with an expediter. Unless you want to redesign your place, or need to change your C of O, you don't need an architect.
2:35 PM 05/01/2012 | 1 Votes
You say the place is liveable but you need to update kitchens, baths and the heating system. You need to really map out your budget and what you want to get out of the project. As someone said above, not every job needs an architect, though one can be invaluable in terms of smartly working through design decisions in ways that you may never have imagined. If you're just putting in a new heating sytem and upgrading kitchens in baths in the same footprint, you can go right to an hvac company or in store kitchen designer. Although I'm an architect, my sister now a writer/college professor has an excellent style sense and has done multiple successful renovation projects with only minor input from me.
2:45 PM 05/01/2012 | 1 Votes
The job you describe should certainly have a professional GC and likely an architect doing more than just plans and a couple site checks. For a renovation of this scale you will certainly need an architect to sign off on plans, at the very least. Don't lose sight of what's most important: 1. building integrity (leaks, roof, structural issues, windows if in very poor condition) 2. safety of mechanicals (updating electric and plumbing) 3. basic comfort (e.g. your heating system) 4. flow and function of layout 5. cosmetics such as getting walls skimmed, restoring trim, painting 6. optionals such as central AC, high end fixtures and appliances
3:03 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
I'm now tackling something just as outdated, but on a tighter budget. As a newbie to all this, I'm already convinced that having an architect aboard helped avoid a lot of scope & layout pitfalls that a contractor wouldnt necessarily see, and also opened up all sorts of opportunities that i couldn't have known about. Once the project was filed & approved, she was still involved -- helped with GC bids, pointers during negotiations and now helps out on a intermittent basis; sends me reminders and meets with me & the GC once a week like clockwork, to discuss & resolve any issues. Pretty sure I've already sidestepped around more expenses than her fees amount to, so (from my very limited perspective) I heartily recommend this approach.
5:23 PM 05/01/2012 | 0 Votes
I have to add my voice to posters above who are strongly recommending proceeding with an architect for your project. While any competant draftsperson could in theory draw up schematic plans, ZD-1's and prepare most of the paperwork for filing, that is actually only a tiny fraction of the services that any reputable architect will provide you.
A full service firm will charge an average of 15% or more for a job like this, but even at that rate the number of hours that will be spent on design revisions, detailing, finishes and fixture selection, budgeting, consultant coordination, filing coordination, and of course construction administration will leave only a very meager profit at the end of the job.
On the other hand, for that fee you will be engaging a soup to nuts designer, value engineer, project manager, bidding coordinator, GC wrangler, on-the-spot problem solver, hand-holder and (frequently) marriage counselor. :)
A good architect will more than make up for their fees in the heartache prevented, cost overruns avoided, schedules enforced, quality maintained, crises averted and most importantly, the custom tailored home which will ultimately be created.
We have extensive experience with brownstone gut renovations and are surprisingly affordable. If you are interested in learning more or talking to some of our satisfied clients please feel free to contact me directly:
Jordan Parnass AIA LEED AP
jordan [at] jpda.net
9:57 PM 05/01/2012 | 1 Votes
Thanks for your responses - we will probably end up using an architect for all the reasons several of you mentioned, and good to know that the fees we've heard are in the right ballpark. Thanks!
3:25 PM 05/02/2012 | 0 Votes
Sounds like you're all set, but I just have to throw in my two cents. As someone who renovated our house and acted as our own general contractor on a budget of $80,000, I would say for the amount of money you are spending and the scope of work you are contemplating, it just makes the most sense to use an architect. You will have access to better people and for other reasons you will get a better quality product faster for the same money.
4:49 PM 05/02/2012 | 0 Votes
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1:44 PM 05/04/2012 | 0 Votes