How do you calculate your fee for the CA phase?

The construction of any project is complex in so many ways, which means there is a lot of time dedicated to this phase by all Consultants. 

Nov 16, 2022

The construction of any project is complex in so many ways, which means there is a lot of time dedicated to this phase by all Consultants. 

A typical scenario for Architects and Consultants is to provide their fees at the beginning of a project. This is a challenging task to undertake and is a double-edged sword.  Not only do you want your price to be reasonable so you can actually make a profit, but you also want the Owner to accept it so you win the work and they will work with you in the future. At the stage where fees are provided, the drawings and specifications are not even close to being completed, nor is the scope well defined. The CA phase is one of the key areas where Architects and Consultants make zero profit. It’s not uncommon to hear “we’re almost out of hours for this project”. But what can be done? The work has to be completed and you’re expected to deliver what was agreed to years ago before construction even began. 

Architects and Consultants need to justify their value in the Construction phase of the project. Not only financially, but also in terms of the quality of the work on-site to meet the design intent. 

So how can you submit an accurate fee for the CA Phase?

Analyze the data from previous projects. While every Owner and Project is unique, the previous data in terms of hours logged against the CA phase will give you an insight into the time dedicated to construction. One way of doing this is to look back and see the number of documents that were created on average, throughout a project. Estimate how much time was spent on each document type, and multiply it by the number of documents. This, of course, is a very time-consuming task.

How can Consultants demonstrate their value?

We need to ensure the Owners understand the value Architects and Consultants bring to the table during construction. The amount of documentation that goes back and forth between the GC and Consultants is often in the 100s or even 1000s. Not only is the review of those documents critical, but ensuring all of those comments and discussions are actually implemented on-site to meet the design intent and quality is critical.

The design team is eyes and ears on-site to make sure the design intent is completed, to the level of quality that is expected.  Architects and Consultants know every single inch of the drawings and they are the ones with the background of what happened during design development, scope, and the creation of the Construction set. 

You are essential to the success of a project. Architects and Consultants focus on the delivery of high-quality design, but you need to make a profit to survive as a business.

If you take anything from this post, just remember this one thing "If you don't feel uncomfortable presenting your price, you probably priced too low.”