MNKO: Why do they do that?
Frank: The reputation of the industry is that architects’ fees are based on a percentage of the construction cost. Some architects do that. Others do it on an hourly basis, or on a set-fee basis.
MNKO: It sounds as though not knowing the real budget would adversely affect the whole design.
MNKO: Can you give an example?
Peter: Yes. A house I’m doing in Central Maui was going to have an artist’s studio above the garage, until the contractor and I determined that the best way to stay on budget was to remove the studio, the home’s only two-story element. The client agreed. A stand-alone studio is a possibility for the future, but even if it’s the same size, it may end up more costly in the long run.
When I sit down with a client, I ask, “What’s the purpose of this home? Are you going to live in it for three, four, five years, and then sell it? Is it something you want to pass down to your kids? Are you going to be here full time or part time?”
I’ll write down the scope of their ideal home. Is this entry something they’ll use daily? Do they want cubbies for shoes? Art lighting? Flagstone? Do they want the kitchen to be the heart of the house? I have clients who rarely cook and don’t want to spend a lot of money on the kitchen, but they want it to look nice. We go through everything, room by room. I take notes, and keep them as a reference. A lot of times, as clients delve into the experience of designing a custom home, they educate themselves, and things morph. It’s important to remind them of their initial goals, and make sure that in the end it’ll come together cohesively.