Here are some answers we prepared earlier...
Q: So, what does an architect do?
A: Architects create the built environment. They design buildings and spaces for people. They also help with approvals and authorities, collaborate and co-ordinate teams, and administer projects in construction.
Architects are great critical thinkers and problem solvers. What's great about that is that they are able to think creatively and laterally about all sorts of things across many scales.
Q: What can I expect from working with an architect?
A: In hiring an architect, you will be working closely with a professional who not only knows the construction industry, but is able to creatively collaborate with you to get an outcome unique to your needs.
An architect not only produces designs and drawings, but is also your advocate - from gaining regulatory approvals, liaising with engineers and builders. They can also help creatively navigate budgets to produce bespoke design solutions suited to you.
The best projects come from a great relationship. When choosing your architect, make sure you go with someone who you can communicate with well, and listens to your needs.
Q: What are 'core services'?
A: 'Core Services' is the process of taking a project from conception to completion. Most projects require core services and this is broken down into stages: Concept Design, Design Development, Contract Documentation, and Contract Administration. See Architectural Services for an outline of what you can expect from Core Services.
The Australian Institute of Architects Client Architect Agreement gives a comprehensive description of what core services are, as well as additional services an architect can provide.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: There are a few different ways architects charge fees - this depends on the type of project, the complexity, and level of service you require. Here are a few examples:
Percentage fee: This is based on an agreed percentage of the construction costs (otherwise known as the Cost of Works). The architect will allocate a proportion of that agreed fee to each stage of the process. Because it is based on a percentage, the fee may change if the Cost of Works changes during the process.
Hourly rate: This can be used when it is difficult to predict the scope of works, or for ancillary services such as feasibility studies, illustration work, concept exploration, or preparing reports.
Lump sum: The architect and client will agree on a fixed amount to carry out the work. The lump sum will be based on an estimate of how much time and resource it will take to complete the work.
Your project may have one or a combination of these. Make sure both you and your architect are clear with the scope and are happy with the chosen fee method. The best way to do this is by having a written agreement, such as the AIA Client Architect Agreement, the ArchiTeam Client Architect Agreement.
Q: Should I use a formal contract or agreement?
A: This is definitely a good idea. In the case that something does go wrong, these documents help protect both parties from any disputes. It also captures the scope of work required, the associated fee, and outlines the roles and responsibilities of both the client and architect in writing so there is no confusion. This document does not mean you are locked in for the entire project - if things change, that's ok! There are procedures to make sure changes or terminations go through smoothly.