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  • 1.  Fees

    Posted 08-23-2018 11:30
    How would you guys price out a 330 unit multifamily job? 3 and 4 story buildings across a 30ish acre site. Straightforward job. Nothing fancy.

    David Robertson AIA
    Marietta, GA
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  • 2.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-24-2018 19:38
    Edited by Maggie Brown 08-28-2018 11:34
    David ---
    For pricing-out such a big project, I'd do it the same way porcupines multiply; verrrry carefully.
    Decades ago, when I was a draftsman at a medium-sized firm, we did a rehab of a 7-story university dorm.  We missed some small item on our pre-bid checklist.  The winning G.C. "saved" this item's absence for when it was needed.
    The Owner was a tad-less-than-happy, when something-like 240 of that item needed to be worked-in, at "gotcha" pricing, in nearly-finished rooms.
    So, I'd suggest, build a conceptual model of each unit-type, and walk-through various residents' activities.  These can certainly affect costs; even 330 (or 660) missing toilet-paper holders can hurt.  So, have a ball, imagining:
    1.    Daily work routine.
    2.    Having overnight guests.
    3.    Bringing-home the new baby (or the unemployed college grad).
    4.    Coming home (or heading-out) in nasty weather.
           Or, safety / refuge in the region's severe weather (tornadoes, blizzards...).
    5.    Way-finding in the unit, during an overnight black-out.
    6.    Unloading the $400.00 grocery load from the car.
    7.    Throwing that BIG party, with, and without, police responses.  Parking?
    8.    Accommodating his / her weird, and very messy, hobby.
    9.    Etc., etc., etc....
    Good luck

    william j. devlin aia, inc.,
    Springfield, MA

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  • 3.  RE: Fees

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 08-24-2018 19:51
    This post was removed
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  • 4.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-27-2018 09:59
    Thanks Bill!

    David Robertson AIA
    Marietta, GA

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  • 5.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-27-2018 17:45
    I would suggest that if you do not have substantial history of doing and pricing work of this scale that you are taking on
    more risk than is wise.  Having a history of smaller projects or having worked for someone else on this type of project would
    be a prerequisite I think.  Multifamily I think can look pretty straight forward and almost cookie cutter but you can quickly
    find your self waist deep in the big muddy.  



    Saxon Sigerson AIA
    Check out my architecture blog
    Sigerson Architects
    7940 California Avenue, Suite 4
    Fair Oaks, CA 95628
    T  (916) 863-6470

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  • 6.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-29-2018 11:22
    Any project that large has significant time involved for getting permission to build. This is often civil engineer led, but the architect will need to produce information for all the town meetings that will inevitably happen. Add in potential conservation, historical, or whatever group or board needs to be appeased, and you've got a lot of overhead with getting permissions. Then, it's simply a huge project for coordination and code.

    For us, anything over about 10 units is big. I've done a few bigger ones, but nothing the size of the one you describe. I'd want a very tight scope of work, and then lots of outs where you can ask for add fees in case the project grows.

    Run the numbers several ways - as a percentage of the proposed construction cost, as an hourly estimate, and as a cost/profit/overhead projection. If the numbers are similar, then you are probably close on your fees. If there's a wide discrepancy, then you need to increase/decrease your assumptions. The biggest worry is under-pricing the job. If you have enough fee, you can hire people to help, or expert help, but if you don't have enough, you're in a lot of trouble.

    Don't forget about all the consultants you'll need. MEP, fire protection, landscape, civil, survey, geotech come to mind. Possibly also a code consultant, estimator, spec consultant. Maybe others, depending on complexity.

    If you haven't done a job like this before, consider teaming with another firm who has the expertise. You'd give up fee, but it's a good way to learn about this sort of project. Obviously, you'd need to split up the work and the fee so it's a win-win.

    I'd guess the total project is tens of millions in construction cost. Say, $30 mill (just guessing). This could end up millions in fee. Is the client at that point, or are they thinking you'll draw some pretty pictures for a couple thousand? If they aren't on the right page, then walk away.

    David Sisson AIA
    David Sisson
    Providence RI

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  • 7.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-30-2018 18:20
    Don't forget to check with your insurance carrier.  Some carriers are not interested in carrying you if you are doing multifamily work.  Before I went out on my own, I did a lot of multifamily work for the firms I was working for.  It's not for everyone, but I found the combination of commercial code and residential thinking and detailing to be interesting.

    A few years after I went on my own with the goal to work on single family projects, I was approached by a developer I had worked with previously.  I decided to take on his project.  As a one man shop, I learned some lessons along the way that I hadn't thought about when working for a larger firm.  It was a big commitment, but in the end it was a successful project.  The one thing I didn't anticipate or account for was the increase in my insurance premiums- and that seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, even if I don't take on another multifamily project...

    Josh Allison AIA
    Josh Allison Architecture
    Charlotte NC

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  • 8.  RE: Fees

    Posted 08-31-2018 18:35
    My carrier does not care about commercial MF projects ...UNLESS..they are condos...then the premiums triple.  I am careful in all contractual agreements to specify they are rented MF projects, not fee simple condominiums.

    I always recommend to clients to get envelope consultants to inspect project, no matter. Because...they might turn it in to a condo in future. Good practice anyway. Never say you do condos on your E&O insurance application. Big premiums, if they will do it at all.  Or...get a project by project rider and add it to the fee.

    David E. Christensen AIA, LEEDap
    Architect and Planner
    Christensen Design Management
    P.O. Box 5068, 1108 11th Street, Suite 304B
    Bellingham, WA 98225
    Office: 360-676-4800, Cel: 360-319-5333

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  • 9.  RE: Fees

    Posted 09-01-2018 11:31


    I have heard of that experience with condo's, mainly due to shady lawyers pitching suits to owners just before the statue of limitations run out, but not for multifamily in general.


    Thad Broom, AIA



    Thad A. Broom, AIA

    Architects  & Designers P.C.

    220 Olivine Ave # 104

    Virginia Beach, VA 23462

    Tel: (757) 618 1125


    Beach Architect Logo_color copy


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  • 10.  RE: Fees

    Posted 09-04-2018 12:26
    Too many retired lawyers live in condos. What else can they do with their time? Also no way to have a good relationship with all the owners in a condo....friends typically don’t sue friends.

    Good luck

    Charles A Phillips, AIA, AIC-pa

    433 Phillips Rd
    Nacogdoches, Tx 75964

    640 Brookstown Ave
    Winston Salem, NC 27101

    From iPhone

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  • 11.  RE: Fees

    Posted 09-05-2018 17:43
    The problem is that architects have no control over the marketing of the condos. Managing expectations is a primary element of avoiding litigation but we can't do that because we have no relationship with the eventual owners. Developers and their realtors create extremely high expectations when marketing the units. Some knowingly; some just a little too enthusiastic. Buyers want their dream home but they don't want to pay for it (or maintain it).

    Bad situation all around. I don't do condos.

    Carol De Tine AIA
    Maine Licensed Architect

    Carriage House Studio Architects LLC
    144 Vaughan Street
    Portland Maine 04102
    207 318 0731

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