Tag Archives: Design

What’s with percentage fees?

I’ve been thinking a lot about fees lately.
A couple of reasons (apart from needing money to pay for childcare):

  1. I have a great relationship with a number of clients who are paying me hourly. I find this method of payment lends itself to an open and collaborative process where on one side the client’s wants and needs are being prioritised and on the other side I am being paid for each hour I work…win/win
  2. I have a deteriorating relationship with a consultant – where I am on the other side – and feel taken advantage of by an exorbitant hourly rate…lose/lose

So is an hourly rate a better way to charge for architectural services than a percentage fee?

To clarify in case any non-architect reads this post, a percentage fee refers to a fee for architectural services that is tied to the construction cost (or estimated construction cost or client’s budget or some even vaguer idea).

Some of the recurring questions that arise with percentage fees on projects:

  1. How do you ensure adequate fees for small (ie low budget) projects?
  2. How do you ensure clients their budgets are not being ‘blown out’ for the sake of more fees (or appear this way)?
  3. How, if the budget does increase, do you tell your client ‘it’s not my fault and btw you need to pay me more’ without it looking like 2.
  4. How do you encourage more people to explore architectural ideas and potential (with an architect) without the need to commit to a full architectural service?

It is this last point where I believe there is so much work for architects.¬† We can actually provide a meaningful service that may not be about an end product (or a photo of an end product). The idea you have to commit to an architect (and an architectural project) after one meeting is like getting married after a one night stand…

Ummm I might stop with that analogy at this point, it doesn’t really translate to the whole hourly rate argument as well as I had hoped.

Hourly rates are good.






Moral Rights PART II

The purpose of the previous post was not to say ‘Oh well, missed out this time around, I’ve learned my lesson, next time I’ll make sure I talk to my client about moral rights, it won’t happen again’.

While I was composing the post I was also in contact with my client and Alice Blackwood, the writer of the article.

To Alice it began with a tweet reply to a photo she had posted of the space:

@aliceblackwood bit slow on the pick up but unhappy not to be credited for my design work here ūüė¶

A bit lame in retrospect, but I was treading cautiously and nervously – unsure how best to approach her, unsure about whether I was over-reacting or not.

However once it was put out there my concerns were almost immediately addressed by Alice.

We ended the day of back and forth messages and emails with a phone call discussing issues of attribution and how this is particular rife in the more fickle retail design sector, how we could explore the topic in more detail in a further article, online vs print publication and when we could meet for a coffee to talk about all of this and my work as well.

Oh and with regard to the article, it was an oversight that can easily be amended.

It’s funny, I have spoken with many architect friends about this. They often have their own story to tell, how they were pissed off but didn’t do anything about it.¬† Or they retell the story of someone they know and how they can’t believe it happened.¬† Or they just complain about us being ‘too polite’ not ‘fierce’ enough as individuals and as a profession.

It could also be that not being credited makes us feel like we have failed, and no one wants to talk about that, right?

Moral of the story of Moral Rights:
Question the omission Рit is more than likely an oversight or error.  The beauty of on-line content is that it can be easily fixed.
And remember to have that conversation with your client!

Share your story and/or follow up on that incident that’s been eating away at you and let me know how you go.

Will Work For Shoes PART V – Moral rights

I didn’t know about this article from last year until a friend came across it and sent me the link.


Sure I can publish this project on my blog and website (if I had one), tweet about it, instagram photos until the cows come home but how great it is to actually be published by someone else!?¬† I just wish I was mentioned in it…

So over the past fortnight I have agonised over how to write about this in a productive and fair way.  It is not about blaming anyone or seeking pity for poor ole me not getting my name in lights.  It is a question of Moral Rights, our relationships with our clients and our ability to empower our clients to not only contribute and collaborate during the design process but take ownership of their design without losing our own connection to it.  This last part is critical to my practice, but clearly I am yet to work out how to achieve this balance.

For any readers unfamiliar with Moral Rights, as part of the Copyright Act  Moral Rights protect the rights of artists (including architects), our reputation and the integrity of our work.  Key to this is our right to be attributed as the designer of a project when it is constructed, publicised or represented in print. (Definition courtesy of Acumen)

The Australian Institute of Architects Client and Architect Agreement has a clause for Moral Rights:

The architect must be attributed in any Public Information about the project promulgated by, or on behalf of, the client or architect, whether the project is complete or not.

If you do not use the standard Client Architect Agreement or DIA Design Agreement make sure your own version includes a clause on this.  More importantly (as we all know most clients will never read the contract) ensure to have a conversation with your client with regard to Moral Rights,  attribution and how mutually beneficial this is Рactually maybe have a couple of conversations with them about it.

For an excellent article on Moral rights and architects


Will work for shoes PART II

First site visit this morning at Wilfred and Enric Shoe Gallery. 
Originally a basement gallery space off Smith St Collingwood, we are playing with the idea of displaying the stock as pieces of art.

Existing main gallery (1024x765)Existing gallery space (1024x804)In Progress

The elements of the space are:
1. the entry – an internal shop front, signage and mannequins STAY TUNED
2. the light box
3. the long wall – a low shelf for shoes along the entire length of the wall STAY TUNED
4. the jewellery box
5. the bluestone wall
6. the main gallery
7. the lounge – for trying on shoes and relaxing STAY TUNED
8. the stockroom – hidden behind the bluestone wall
You can see the PLAN here W&E PLAN

light box (1024x800)In Progress SOMESLASHTHINGS BLOG rick owens 4 VEL (3)Inspiration
Rick Owens http://www.someslashthings.com/blog/tag/rick-owens
This 15m long light box will BLOW THE SPACE OUT

JEWELLERY BOX (1024x765)Existing
This will be a perforated metal clad moody black room in the centre of the space containing precious objects within.

bluestone wall (1024x765)Existing bluestone wall revealed (756x1024)In Progress
This has been revealed through demolition, it adds texture + depth to the space.

rachel-whiteread_b one hundred spacesInspiration
Rachel Whiteread http://pictify.com/5/rachel-whiteread-untitled-one-hundred-spaces
Here the stock will be displayed on custom designed and made plaster and 2pac plinths.
The unfixed nature of these display units means the shop gallery can be rearranged to showcase the latest stock or even stripped right away for a minimal space.

Design + Build – could this be the architect’s new best friend?

Well, it may not be¬†everyone’s idea of a new best friend but it appears¬†it could¬†be one of mine…

A mutual friend introduced me and Heath Whiteside of Whiteside Homes last year.  Heath was keen to work with an architect so he could provide a full design and construct service to his clients.

It¬†immediately¬†sounded like something I would be interested in¬† – in fact I couldn’t see¬†any ‘cons’¬†with the¬†model.


  • With the builder, architect and client on the same team from the start, the stress around many unknowns – in particular budget blow outs –¬†should be¬†minimised.¬† From the minute we go out on site together, Heath and I are talking about design ideas and the best / easiest / cheapest / most efficient / etc ways to achieve it.
  • I can do what I am good at, enjoy the most¬†and what I have time for¬† – meeting, forming and maintaining relationships with clients; designing; selecting + specifying finishes, materials, fixtures.¬† I just don’t have time or the head space at the moment to sit and document for hundreds of hours / project nor do I have to when working so closely with the builder from the outset.
  • The design + build model has the potential to¬†¬†more ‘normal’ people with an architectural service.¬† Many architects turn down projects with lower budgets usually because they run at a loss in a traditional practice.¬† Conversely,¬†many ‘normal’ people don’t approach architects because they fear the cost / process.¬† By working with the builder and consulting on the documentation rather than slogging it out myself (see point 2) my fees can actually cover the amount of work done at the lower budget end so everyone is happy!
  • My role can change, expand or shrink as my life allows.
  • If there is too much work for me to do I can call on the many architects / graduates¬†I know who do not work 9-5 (or 8-10 or whatever ‘full time’ hours are expected¬†of them)¬†or want to and see if this is something they may be interested in.


On Friday Heath asked whether 12 design + build projects would be achievable this year.¬† Coming from a small practice 12 new jobs seemed like a lot and I wasn’t sure where the clients were coming from…

Then this tweet from @WhitesideHomes

MUST READ… To kickstart the launch of our new service Whiteside design + build, we are giving $500 CASH to the… http://fb.me/2gcyUVkwI

Well, that’s one way to¬†get the word out!

You can check out Whiteside homes at www.whitesidehomes.com.au, on twitter @WhitesideHomes or on FaceBook