The ideal situation for practicing architecture is for a client to approach an Architect [or for an Architect to approach a prospective client with a viable proposal] having a sense of total requirements and budget; unfortunately, that is not the situation on the ground.
Some clients do not even know what they need in their design proposals; whether to opt for louvered windows or sliding glass windows, although once in a while there are informed clients. In addition, typical clients in this part of the world do not accumulate funds to finish off a building project from inception to completion especially individual residential projects. Uncertain specifications coupled with unknown project cost makes it difficult to charge for residential projects on percentage basis; hence, lump sum approach is mostly preferred by Architects in this part of the world.
Now here is the issue; it is highly impossible to have a lump sum charge equivalent in value to a percentage charge on estimated construction cost. Some Architects therefore feel they are already compromising on charging for residential projects. It therefore becomes disheartening and somewhat annoying after sleepless nights and tiresome days in order to meet deadlines; and some clients either argue over the fees, want a drastic reduction or go MIA [Missing In Action].
A resolution to this situation from some Architects is to demand for part of the charge on account [that is, commitment fee] so if the client decides not to proceed with the project, the Architect would not have worked in vain. Even to this approach, not all clients are willing to accept such an arrangement; hence another school of thought is for the Architect to work on an initial quick incomplete sketch design proposal for the client to test his or her seriousness before total commitment.
Architects in this part of the world most of the time are likely to work without getting paid and this has resulted in bitter stories from some Architects practicing for over 10 years. Some millennial Architects would rather sleep than to waste their time working on a project without pay or use their time profitably elsewhere.
It is true there cannot be a project without a client [even if an Architect initiates a project], but there should be an appreciation for the skills, intellect and creativity Architects bring to the table to merit a reasonable fees claim. Clients and prospective clients should not prioritise the obvious physical manual labour exhibited by artisans on site to the intellectual and creative capacity of architects as the two are not the same.
Architectural Lamentations is a series we will be bringing our readers. Kindly send us any topic Architects lament on at email@example.com and we will do justice to it. Until our next episode on the lamentations, keep reading, keep following and keep sharing.