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BCO Conference Special: the developer's view on architects' fees

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Gerald Kaye, the president of the British Council for Offices (BCO) and director of Helical Bar, on why architects must stand up for themselves over the issue of fees

While they may be hackneyed phrases, I am a firm believer in the old adages of “you get what you pay for” and “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”. It always causes me concern when a client seeking to provide a high quality office building selects the consulting team purely on who offers the lowest fee. Design consultants need to be creative, imaginative, intelligent, skilful and well trained; they are professional people.

The value that an excellent architect can add to a job is far in excess of his fee and likewise, why spoil a major building project that will be there for many years, by employing the architect offering the cheapest fee quote who puts his fourth division team on the project and then spends most of the time trying to find ways to improve his fee, rather than concentrating on the job.

When seeking to appoint an architect, perhaps a client should decide what fee he is willing to pay and this should be fixed going in to the selection process so that the chosen architect is the one who is considered best able to do the project on that basis. Alternatively, architects should be more robust at the selection stage in saying why they want to be remunerated properly and the clients should be braver in justifying why they are selecting what, on paper, is an architect with a more expensive fee.

Architects, you must stand up for yourselves.



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