Architectural fees and proposals have always been an elusive topic for me. Sure, I studied it, and worked on a few here and there, but I’ll admit that I don’t really have much practical experience working with Architectural fees and proposals. The few freelance projects that I have completed were mostly done on an hourly fee arrangement.
This week during my lunch break, I decided to take the Entrepreneur Architect’s class on Hybrid Proposals for Architecture Services to gain better insight around the topic. I am working every day towards building my own business and architecture practice. I knew this class was available and wanted to take it much sooner than later, so I jumped in head first.
Who is The Entrepreneur Architect?
Entrepreneur Architect is a website and podcast that focuses on the business of architecture and entrepreneurship. I have been following this blog for about a year and a half now. It is written by Mark R. LePage who runs a small architecture firm in Westchester NY. I discovered this website when I was researching insurance for one of my architecture registration exams.
I quickly became hooked when he ran a series of weekly emails called: 12 Steps to a Successful Architecture Firm. Outside of working in the office, Entrepreneur Architect has been my best source for practical education around the business of architecture.
What is the Hybrid Proposal for Architectural Services Course?
The course consists of a 1 hour 25 min video and Microsoft Word Templates:
- Client cover letter template
- Hybrid Proposal template
- Standard terms and conditions template
- References template.
In the video, Mark guides you line by line through his Hybrid Proposal. He breaks down how it is written and why it is written that way. The proposal is strategically worded to protect both the architect and the client from a possible miscommunication.
The templates provided are the actual documents that he used in his firm. After taking the course, I strongly feel that having the digital files alone, are worth the value of the course. They can be edited quickly for your personal use on your next project. He also makes it clear in his disclaimer that he accepts no responsibility in your use of the proposal or the information he is providing. Makes sense.
Hybrid: Between a Flat Fee and a Percentage Based Fee
There a million different ways to calculate architectural fees. Some fee structures lend themselves better to certain projects. The client, the firm, size of the project, jurisdiction, unique circumstances and many other factors all play their part in how a fee structure should be selected.
The hybrid proposal is an excellent method for residential projects and even some small commercial work. It uses both a flat fee and percentage based model. The architect essentially works on a retainer from predesign through schematic design to establish the project’s scope and construction budget. Once that information is determined the architect’s fee is calculated as a flat fee from the percentage of the cost of construction.
Cover Letter and Proposal
The cover letter is straight forward and he tweaks a few areas to customize it for each client. The proposal is well designed to look non-intimidating for clients. He outlines what is included in the basic architectural services, what is an additional service and the responsibilities of the client. The proposal does a great job of setting the stage for additional services, if the client should need them.
There were several items on the “additional services” list that caught me by surprise. He then went on to explain why they should be an additional service and he changed my mind. Nevertheless, all these items are negotiable and every project has its own unique set of variables.
Terms of Conditions
The terms and conditions of the agreement are also included as another simple 2 page document. This document further outlines the services to be performed, compensation procedures, additional services, reimbursable expenses, client responsibilities, insurance, dispute resolution and other key elements of executing the work.
Lastly, Mark includes a page of references with each proposal. He has an interesting way of structuring this page to make future clients understand which one of his references may be the most applicable to their specific project.
- Highly efficient – There is no need to reinvent the wheel if you choose to use this fee structure for your next project. Aside from project specific information the templates are essentially ready for you to use. I believe it’s a great investment that can be used to land more billable work.
- Protects the Architect – The proposal and terms and conditions are written in a way that protects the architect from being taken on a wild goose chase from an indecisive client. He uses a method of holding retainage (from the client) to protect himself against unpaid invoices.
- Outlines Responsibilities – The documents clearly outline what the responsibilities are of the architect, owner and future contractor.
- Transparency – The hybrid proposal is very straight forward (and fair) in quickly educating the client in how architectural fees are determined to better inform their total project budget which may include: architectural fees, contractor fees, cost of land, survey fees, realtor fees, permitting fees, consultants, etc.
- Comparison to other models – He doesn’t really compare this fee structure to other models. One element that I think he missed in the video is when using the hybrid proposal structure may not be a good idea and what those circumstances may look like.
- No continuing education credits – Nope not here.
- Wanting more – This class left me wanting more from the Entrepreneur Architect. I would like another class comparing other architectural fee based models.
I don’t know what’s in store for Entrepreneur Architect, but I’m already excited for the next course. Mark R. LePage always puts out well polished blog posts and podcasts and continues to offer massive value around the subjects of architecture and entrepreneurship.
I found it very helpful having the class on video and I frequently backed up the video, to fill in the gaps on my notes. I also wrote the video times next to each note, allowing me to quickly go back to find a moment in the video. Doing this was super handy when I got to the 2nd half of the video and wanted to reference what he previously said in the beginning.
Entrepreneur Architect Foundations
The Entrepreneuer Architect Academy also offers a product called Foundations. It’s essentially a list business forms and checklists that LePage has created for his architecture firm to keep his projects organized and to help guide each step through the life of a project.
If you found this review helpful and know anyone who may be interested in this product or the information being taught in this course, please click one of the buttons below or send this blog post to them.
If you enjoyed this post, you should also check out:
- Five Other Young Architect Bloggers!
- Young Architect Article in The DJC Oregon
- Is Your Local AIA Helping You Prepare For Your ARE’s?!??
- Special Interest Architects – Architecture Intern 101
- Architecture in The Real World
- Why Are Young Architects So Unhappy?!???
- An Inspiring Young Architect Story
- Mentoring Young Architects
- I Just Can’t Do This Anymore
- Architect’s Guide to Getting Mentally Clear – 18 Tricks
- Building Great Architecture Models