A person who wants to purchase a set of plans, wants to purchase a set of plans and does not want to go through the custom design process. You offer a service and they are looking for a product, so it isn't a match.
Sincerely,Patrick Y. Wong, Architectural PhotographerMember of the American Society of Media PhotographersAssociate Member of the American Institute of ArchitectsMember of the Society for Marketing Professional ServicesAtelier Wong Photography – Powerful Images That Inspire Design2419 South 5th StreetAustin, TX 787041+(512) 627-1288 Patrick@AtelierWong.com">Patrick@AtelierWong.comwww.AtelierWong.comwww.DowntownAustinPhoto.com
We get those calls once in a while. I usually ask them if they call a realtor and ask "How much is a three bedroom house?" what is the response from the realtor? They immediately understand that it varies depending on the situation and then they can understand that architectural fees also vary depending on the situation.
Jonathan S. Matson, AIA
Matson Architects Inc.
If you have designed a few houses you should be able to give them a range of cost- and a description of what they get. Remember, it is not their fault that they do not understand how architects work. I think it is my job to educate potential clients.
On the plus side- you are getting calls! Now find out why they are calling you. And ask them who else are they calling. Many people can be nervous or defensive when considering the amount of money it costs to build a house.
I will try to engage the caller in conversation to understand what they are really looking for- even the ones that I do not think will be a good fit.
Ali Awad, AIA
Awad + Koontz Architects Builders Inc
I have done this long enough to know that that client is not one I really want to work with; now we have the pleasure to (mostly) work with people who know us by reputation, and expect to pay for our services.
But I started out working for 'cost first' clients. Many can be persuaded to meet you, if only to pump you for free advice. Your job is to convince them that architecture is not a commodity, that the lowest price is not worth it, and that you have their best interests at heart, but must be paid. Tall order, I know, and you will still be underpaid. But some of those will pan out to be acceptable projects & clients, and it builds from there.
Christopher Pickell, AIA
115 Main Street
Flemington, New Jersey 08822
Yes, our firm has struggled with this question for the past 30 years or so, and still have no answer. We have used numbers like "5 to 15% of construction costs, depending upon the level of detail you need". Problem is, no one knows how much detail will be required (bid sets? Interiors? Approvals? Building Department requirements?, etc., etc.). Also, no potential client knows what construction costs will be until drawings are completed and pricing is attempted. I have always thought that a "Chinese menu" of services could be put together, with either dollars/SF or percentage bumps, but it would take time and data to safely produce (even after 30 years, I have neither). What a lot of potential home owners don't realize is that architects have liability exposure for documents with their name on them despite any disclaimers thereto on the drawing sheets, and whether or not they are stamped & signed.
A couple of things you can do during that initial telephone query might be to ask about their required square footage and whether or not they have a survey of the property. The first piece of information, multiplied by an "average", low-budget, local, residential construction cost, then multiplied by the percentage range stated above will give them a cost range. The second will determine if they can come up with, at least, the fee for the surveyor, and whether they have taken the first logical step to get serious about their project. Some residential architects make a good living from publishing plans and adapting selected plans to specific sites for specific clients, usually at hourly rates on top of the initial plan purchase.
Hope this was helpful.
Peter C. Hart, AIA, NCARB