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Izzy

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I went to see an architect today. I want to sell my large home and move into something more sensible, less wasteful size wise. All of the small houses I've seen on the market are very old and would require a great deal of remodeling. I bought a small lot in an area of town I really like and want to build a small home. I already have a design in mind, and I figured an architect could just make the blueprints. This architect quoted me $200 a square foot. We didn't even talk materials and I'm not looking to go bigger than 600 ft.².

 

He talked about other services such as making the sketches, making the blueprints, taking out permits and dealing with the builder. Frankly, I could see the benefit of having him deal with permits and the builder but for that money...I don't know.

 

Have y'all had experience with architects? What was it like? Got any tips?

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Hello Izzy,

 

I would assume that the $200 per sq.ft. would be all inclusive for the new construction. This would include all materials and labor. Around these parts the cost is about $125 to $150 per sq.ft.

 

If you find that that is what the Architect charges just for drawing the plans, find another Architect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary

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Yeah, Gary's right. The $200 per s.f of floor area would be the cost of the house, and that's a pretty darn nice house. Although a small house will cost more per square foot, so a 600 s.f (kind of tiny) house may very well cost about $120,000 to build. Architects' fees are in the range of 6 to 10 percent of the cost of construction. Maybe a little more since it's a small house. More like maybe say 15 to 20 dollars per square foot of building area. If the person is not really a licensed architect but they are a "plan service" or an "architectural designer" then they are not a real architect and shouldn't command anywhere near those kind of fees. For good reason. You get what you pay for. [thumbup]

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This guy is a well known architect. His designs, the ones he shows off on his site, are not my thing, but he does small spaces.

His site

 

I am sure he meant $200 a square foot for the entire project. I just find it presumptuous of him to assume it's going to be that much money without having asked me what sort of project I'm doing besides a small house. I am not interested in fancy finishes and don't even want central heat or air. I want something humble and solid. I'll get the cheapest most functional sink, use a horse trough for a tub and worry about getting interesting fixtures on my own time way later once I've had the place a while.

 

I wish you would've given me a cost breakdown for just his services. I was hoping he could just sketch something and give me blueprints. Or I could sketch it since I pretty much already know what I want, except I was hoping he'd have a couple of ideas I could implement. I don't know. Maybe I'm just nervous. :unsure:

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This guy is a well known architect. His designs, the ones he shows off on his site, are not my thing, but he does small spaces.

His site

 

I am sure he meant $200 a square foot for the entire project. I just find it presumptuous of him to assume it's going to be that much money without having asked me what sort of project I'm doing besides a small house. I am not interested in fancy finishes and don't even want central heat or air. I want something humble and solid. I'll get the cheapest most functional sink, use a horse trough for a tub and worry about getting interesting fixtures on my own time way later once I've had the place a while.

 

I wish you would've given me a cost breakdown for just his services. I was hoping he could just sketch something and give me blueprints. Or I could sketch it since I pretty much already know what I want, except I was hoping he'd have a couple of ideas I could implement. I don't know. Maybe I'm just nervous. :unsure:

 

The median cost for existing homes in Houston is about $160/sq ft so $200 for new construction is probably a little high but not out of line depending on the neighborhood ( Montrose and the Heights run about $246 / ft2 for existing homes. Go out to Alief and existing runs about $81/ ft2). My nephew is an architect and says services should run about $1.50 - $2.50/ ft2 (He's up in the upper Midwest so prices might be different.) We just finished a kitchen remodel but did most of it ourselves.

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You are in for paying a lot of money for a service that may not be needed.

 

Nothing against architects in general. If you are building a sky scraper, or a multi-million dollar home then you need one to make sure that it doesn't fall down structural science and all.

 

For a simple ranch house or such it may be overkill. Now possibly the zoning laws in the area require an architects drawings in order to get building permits. But if you already have a design in mind, a competent builder should be able to work it out with you sans architect.

 

I worked at a school that wanted to do some remodeling. In order to get city permits we needed some drawings. I broke out my old T-square and triangles and did them myself and saved the school about $10K in architect fees. Just sayin.

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I guess you've been watching that tv show Tiny House Nation? I bet the 'community' has a collection of floor plans you could thumb through....

 

Lol,I have seen some documentaries, but mostly got the idea from having visited this one awesome little 520sqf home I regret not buying. I want that same design.

 

I do think I need to submit official drawings to get permits, so I hope I can get those done and then maybe I can find the most important component which is a competent builder who isn't going to fk me.

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There is a website that sells blueprints and I think it comes with a list of materials, you may be able to skip the architect and go straight to the contractor.

 

I am not sure if they will have something that small though.

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I can dig tidiness and economical use of space as much as the next person, but where will you put the guitars and amps in a 600 sq ft house? [biggrin]

 

LOL! I know, I know. Actually, I've been thinning the herd like crazy. I have 3 amps (all small) and 5 good guitars. 2 cheapiess for fun. So, yeah...

 

I went to the one house that was 520sqf and fell inlove with it, then another that was 650sqf and thought, "this is totally doable!" I don't intend on having kids and my current house has me traumatized. 11 windows just in the downstairs, and lets not talk about my light bill! I hope mu next house has only 5 windows, no central A/C and only one door!! The upkeep is ridiculous in these family size houses :unsure:

 

Thank you all for your input. I am looking at a site with plans of homes in the dimensions I want. So far they're all meh...but its a start and now I know if a pre-made plan is $600-$1k, then he can make me one for double that in a jiffy and I'd say that's fair (if I supply the sketches)!

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I just find it presumptuous of him to assume it's going to be that much money without having asked me what sort of project I'm doing besides a small house. I am not interested in fancy finishes and don't even want central heat or air. I want something humble and solid. I'll get the cheapest most functional sink, use a horse trough for a tub and worry about getting interesting fixtures on my own time way later once I've had the place a while.

 

 

 

the price is also partly based on rough estimates he would expect for this or that part of the construction. the advice given so far sounds pretty good to my ear. i have been doing construction work for 30+ years. any decent builder should be able to frame that house in lightning speed. if you are using mostly conventional materials, time labor costs should be pretty minimal across the board. the biggest expense is labor, 99% of the time. labor to build that house should be really minimal, barring factors we don't know because we're on a message board.

 

my advice would be to reconsider your concept of fitting out the house later as you go. sometimes that can make things a pita later on. setting up your tub and shower with a basic design, and then later deciding you'd really like to buy a claw foot tub you saw in an antique shop affects more than just a plumber. knowing you plan to go that route in the beginning would save you hassle with lots of other facets of construction. it's just the simplest example i can think of right now. you could always plan it out more fully, and then allow the builders to only take you some pre-determined portion of that. planning the lighting is one that pays to plan carefully. if you can have wires in place for fixtures you plan to install later, getting them in place during the build phase is way cheaper than doing it after. some of it may not even affect your construction cost by not being there anyhow. aside from that, my personal belief is that the more a goal is defined, the clearer is my path to reach it. and easier to know when i've got there too. ymmv on that part though. also, duct work is a huge pain to install after the fact. that's my specific trade. be super-duper sure you don't want a forced air system.

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if you are using mostly conventional materials, time labor costs should be pretty minimal across the board. the biggest expense is labor, 99% of the time. labor to build that house should be really minimal, barring factors we don't know because we're on a message board.

 

my advice would be to reconsider your concept of fitting out the house later as you go.

 

Excellent advice! When I say I don't want to fit the house as I go I mean get basic standard stuff and later upgrade with stuff that fits it like a nicer deeper sink or prettier fixture. For instance, I'd want a shower because I already know I hate tubs and it would be a matter of deciding to buy one of those pre-made ones from home depot and later if someone wants to get fancy, rip it out and tile.

 

Thanks so much for your advice! I wanted to ask you because you seem very knowledgeable, is pier and beam better than slab here in shifty Houston soil?

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Here is part of his response. There was an attachment with great detail, but I am too tired to look now. I leave it so you can all get an idea of what I'm looking at:

 

"I’ve attached a proposal for your review/comment. To help you understand how the fee breaks out Design Services are $3,240, Construction Documentation is $5,400, and Construction Services are $2,160."

 

Thoughts and comments welcomed!

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Here is part of his response. There was an attachment with great detail, but I am too tired to look now. I leave it so you can all get an idea of what I'm looking at:

 

"I’ve attached a proposal for your review/comment. To help you understand how the fee breaks out Design Services are $3,240, Construction Documentation is $5,400, and Construction Services are $2,160."

 

Thoughts and comments welcomed!

 

Looks good. That's about $11,000 for a house that's going to cost say 600 s.f. x $200.00/s.f. = $120,000. So that's just under 10% of the value of construction, which is pretty normal. They're proposing to design the place, make up the plans and specifications and do construction administration, which is working with the builder and inspectors in the usual manner to make sure the permits are in order and assure that the house gets built to spec. Is the architect using a standard AIA agreement form for you to sign for their services? That's kind of standard and is a good thing because the standard AIA documents have been developed to anticipate and cover all the things that typically can go haywire.

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my advice would be to reconsider your concept of fitting out the house later as you go. sometimes that can make things a pita later on. setting up your tub and shower with a basic design, and then later deciding you'd really like to buy a claw foot tub you saw in an antique shop affects more than just a plumber. knowing you plan to go that route in the beginning would save you hassle with lots of other facets of construction. it's just the simplest example i can think of right now. you could always plan it out more fully, and then allow the builders to only take you some pre-determined portion of that. planning the lighting is one that pays to plan carefully. if you can have wires in place for fixtures you plan to install later, getting them in place during the build phase is way cheaper than doing it after. some of it may not even affect your construction cost by not being there anyhow. aside from that, my personal belief is that the more a goal is defined, the clearer is my path to reach it. and easier to know when i've got there too. ymmv on that part though. also, duct work is a huge pain to install after the fact. that's my specific trade. be super-duper sure you don't want a forced air system.

 

Bingo... There's some good advice right there. Discuss any future plans like that with the architect and they'll keep that kind of stuff in mind when they do the planning.

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