Fee bidding

Fee bidding is just about the worst way to select your architect. It is a means of selection whereby you ask a number of architects to submit their fees and the lowest fee usually wins the job. Fee bidding is false economy because it is unlikely to result in the best architectural services for you.

How are architect's fees usually set?

Architects' fees are set by negotiation with their clients. In many instances architects will calculate the amount for which they can afford to provide the service and quote that amount to the client, who will accept it as reasonable. In some cases, there will be a series of offers and counter offers between architect and prospective client until a precise list of services is agreed upon for the fee that the client can afford.

What are the disadvantages of fee bidding?

In architecture, as in most things, time is money. A large part of the cost of architectural services is for an architect's time. When the main reason for selection is the fee, architectural firms are likely to reduce the time they allocate to your project to minimise their costs and enable them to bid lower. This is false economy because you reduce the time your architect will spend on getting the most value for money on the construction of your project.

The sorts of things that are likely to be foregone if time is tight include:

optimising site use; designing to minimise maintenance costs;

minimising energy costs during the life of the building" and producing a superb design rather than just a good one.

Depending on the project type, architects' fees generally range between 0.1% and 1% of the life cycle cost of a project. "Life cycle cost" is the total cost of the building over its useful life. A substantial reduction in architects' fees produces only a minor saving in initial costs but may result in substantial increases in the building's life cycle cost.

Why should I select the best architect, not the cheapest?

Selecting the best architect for your project is likely to result in a building that precisely meets your needs, a building that you are proud of and a project where you maximise value for money.

For more information on selecting the best architect for the job, see Client Notes - Architectural Services 'Guide-lines for the Selection of an Architect".


These notes are issued by a member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects without responsibility on the part of McNeil Architects, The Royal Australian Institute of Architects or any of its Councillors, officers, members or staff.


Published by McNeil Architects from information provided by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects