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Architect Fee Calculations

Architect fee calculations need no longer to be a mystery. Architects are normally paid a fee based on either a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of construction cost. Based on the project requirements and the use of a current cost data book, it is easy to calculate the approximate construction cost and associated fee for any assignment.

Let’s look at an example excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell, retired professional engineer. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at Use discount code “paperback” and save.


Assume that the project is an existing high school located in the state of Rhode Island. The new project is to renovate a portion of the existing school and add a new library.

Existing building size: 40,000 sq. ft.

Portion to be renovated: 10,000 sq. ft.

Library addition: 15,000 sq. ft.

First convert the above areas to “general” construction cost. (Use a current Cost Estimating book.)

High school – $197/sf x 1.22 x 10,000 sf = $2,403,400

(Note: I used the factor 1.22 to adjust the costs for the Rhode Island area. You would of course adjust for the area of your project.)

Library – $215/sf. X 1.22 x 15,000 sf. = $3,934,500

(Note: I have ignored the 30,000 sq. ft. of existing high school that is not being renovated. Consulting engineers will have to spend some time assessing existing systems and possibly designing replacements or modifications, if these systems are not expandable to meet the needs of the new project. But, the architect will probably not get more fee, since their work in these areas is minimal. However, expect slightly higher consulting engineering fees.)

Second use Figure 12-1 to determine the “Difficulties”.

High schools = “C”

Library = “D”

Next use figure 12-2 to determine the architect’s fee for the library addition, because this is new construction.

Library addition – 7.5 %

Use Figure 12-3 to determine the architect’s fee for the renovation.

High school renovation– 9.8 %

Actual fee dollars are calculated as follows:

Library addition: 7.5% x $3,934,500 = $295,087

High School: 9.8% x $2,403,400 =        $235,532


Compare this fee with your budget of hours and other costs. If they don’t correlate well, recalculate both. During a difficult economy it may be necessary to reduce your expected profit margin. But, never rely solely on the tables and charts and hope for the best.

I have just shared with you the fee “secrets” that took me 35 years to perfect. Apply my advice and use your best judgment; your proposals will win you work.

To find out why hiring “outside consulting engineers” guarantees architects a profit on that portion of the fee “click here“.

To learn about “things to  consider when calculating fees” “Click Here“.

To discover how “overtime increases profits” “Click Here“.

Providing the following credit is given, you are welcome to reprint this article for free

 “Excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order from Use discount code “paperback” and save.