How to get Architecture at a discount


Architecture doesn’t have to be expensive, if you know the secret:

Make sure they know the project will only take 2 weeks (the project will actually take 36-72 weeks)

Tell them that their competitor has already given you a quote for 1/2 that amount. However, if the Architectural firm has a Barcelona chair in the lobby you may assume 1/3 that amount. If the Barcelona chair is an original, you should leave.

Remind them that you have in-house talent who will make all the material, product, and finish selections (if at all possible, this should be your wife)

Tell them you only need “plans to turn in for a permit”

Make sure they understand that all other “consultants” will be under a separate contract. You just need the Architect to coordinate the drawings. (By “coordinate” you mean “produce” and “assume all legal responsibility for”. You won’t be hiring any consultants).

Explain that this project should be “really functional” and/or “utilitarian”. Ask how many windows are really needed to meet “code”.

Keep in mind, “Curtain-wall” and “Store-front” cost the same amount. Don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

Make sure they know you plan to work most of the details out in the field. (nitty-gritty details like power, utilities, dimensions, or accessibility)

Tell them that the drawing tolerances need only be +/- 2 feet. (prepare to sue if any dimension varies more than 1/16″)

Look at their proposal and say “what? really? this includes land acquisition costs, right?”

Remember, most drawings are produced on computers, and pushing buttons is not hard. Architects can simply “plug-in” the information now.

Have your initial meeting at a high end wine-bar. Have one too many. Talk about your dream of one day building a high-rise condo on you families’ property in Brussels.

Tell the Architect you just got off the phone with Tom at Gensler and he’s looking for a local “Architect of Record” for that new lifestyle-center by the mall (don’t worry, they’ll know who that is)

Tell them you really admire the work of Peter Zumthor. “It’s just so poetic, isn’t it”.  But, make sure to clarify that you weren’t thinking that would work on this project, but it may be ideal for the next one.

Explain that you’ll need to cut this meeting short so you can make it to your Tee time with <insert owner of local steakhouse franchise here>

If the Architect gives you a schedule of hourly rates, it is safe to assume that 99% of the work will be done by the lowest paid position on the schedule. These eployees will usually be called “interns” or “architectural designers”. Keep in mind that most Architectural firms do not pay a salary to these positions. So, they are just marking up the rate to cover their “expenses”. Note: although most work is done by the lowest paid employee scheduled, all calls should be directed to the president of the firm. Phone calls are free.

Ask if they plan to handle the award submission process on the project, “or is that just something that happens organically?”

Compliment them on their sweater, and/or glasses. Then remove your own glasses and slowly lick your lips.

Give them the “sketch” your son-in-law drew on the “cad machine” to use as a starting point. Let them know you just want to “note up” this “drawing”.

Or, simply accept their proposal without question. Then, pay them whatever you want, after you get the plans.

What do you think? did I miss any?


Jody { coffee with an architect }



“cool discount” photo from ChicagoGeek’s photostream on Flickr

“bargain” photo from J Leverett’s photostream on Flickr

both used under creative commons license