design fees


While finding the lowest design fee may seem to be prudent, you may be unknowingly sacrificing the suitability & relevance of your project, and possibly even making it more costly to build.

Make sure you aren’t being ‘pennywise, but pound foolish’.

The reason is simple. Design fees are a direct reflection of the amount of time, effort, thought, and expertise being devoted to the development of your design, and the preparation of your construction drawings – both of which are very important.

With low fees, you invariably will receive less –

a less thorough evaluation of relevant factors ?

To ensure the suitability of your project, including its’ long-term relevance, numerous factors need to be carefully considered - the specifics of your lot (bylaws, constraints, topography, orientation, size, views, privacy, etc.), as well as your specific needs, lifestyle, furniture requirements, long-term needs, budget, and so on.

Overlooking any of these factors could quite simply mean your project might not be a good fit for you or your site, and it may not even function very well - spaces not sized correctly, your furniture doesn’t actually fit or can’t be arranged properly, not enough counter-space, & so on.

appropriate / compromised design ?

Not fully examining the best design alternatives, or properly developing your design, means a less resolved project, with lost potential – which could amount to the significant difference between a well-designed home or cottage, and a merely adequate project.

The overall suitability and / or attractiveness of your project may be compromised – looking out of place & not suiting your lot, individual ‘spaces’ not relating / interacting with one another correctly, your layout not arranged to capture morning or afternoon sunshine, or take full advantage of a scenic view.

incomplete construction drawings ?

Construction drawings convey to a builder what you want to build & show your requirements. The more complete & detailed your construction drawings, the more accurate will be your construction estimates. (Much more information is needed to build a project, than is required on drawings to get a building permit.)

If your drawings are vague or incomplete, critical aspects may / will be missed, creating many opportunities for misunderstandings & mismatched expectations with the builder (and others). Unfortunately, this quite often results in disputes, and hidden cost ‘extras’.

educate yourself

Retaining design services is not the same as purchasing a commodity, where you can often determine your exact specifications & competitively select a supplier offering the lowest price. Building projects are quite different – at the onset, requirements are seldom clearly defined or understood, and often there are many variables & unknowns.

Design services offered commonly vary significantly as well - from the level of design knowledge & skill, to the extent of services provided, as well as the drawing detail level.

As best you can, try to determine the real differences of your options. Ensure that you understand, and can live with, what you are getting, or what you will be giving up. Strive to balance price & value.

It’s worth noting that design fees generally represent only a small part of a project budget. In many cases, the long-term benefits of a well-designed project, with complete drawings, outweigh the minimal initial short-term savings.

Bottom line: you will get what you pay for.