MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – III

Post 502  by Gautam Shah




Design fees are based on many factors or considerations. One of the important elements is the complexity of the job, which in turn is reflected in Design floor spread or area of work. This is now called expected area of design intervention. It can include every thing that is intensively and intentionally to be impacted by design. In case of architecture or interior design it includes all design affectations inside and outside the built form. For this purpose your design brief presented to a client becomes the Bench Mark. But one must also equate the design brief with a structure for fees’ computation.




640px-Small_group_conversation_at_a_Gurteen_Knowledge_CafeFor all designers the safest bet is to mention a minimum chargeable fee with a rider that it relates to One site, One Project, One Client and One occasion or interaction. The minium chargeable fee, must be interpreted as the retaining amount (services of a designer). Mention of one occasion or interaction is necessary as some clients after paying the retaining amount go into sleep-mode lasting an indeterminate period. It is necessary to state what design services a client can expect on payment of retaining amounts. This may include one or few meetings for discussions of design brief, including scope of design services, collection and verification of the site related documents, a site visit, or submission of a design scheme.

If minimum chargeable amount (or retaining amount) covers and obligates you to submit a schematic design, than following cares are necessary. Schematic design must never be submitted in digitally manipulable form, such as the CAD-based files. One may however, submit image files like in pdf, jpg, or similar format. Smart designers avoid creating very exactly scaled proposals.


First fee is a retainer fee > Pic through Flickr by David Goehring

The schematic or preliminary sketch design is likely to go into hyperbole for showing the possibilities of design interventions. The design elements not only spread as built-forms, but include surroundings’ treatments. This is often equated as a promise against the clients’ estimate or the perception of the budget. This means, one need resubmit a redefined version (usually truncated and very rarely an expanded one ) of schematic drawings, as soon as project is shaped (that is fees are set). At this stage it would be wiser to define and graphically indicate the extent and nature of Design interventions. It could also include the Requested Design (Client’s brief) and Design to be executed. A client should clearly understand the term ‘design to be executed’ will form the basis for fees’ determination. Cancellation of the job or any downward sizing will not affect the ‘basis for fees’.


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