professional fees

It bothers me that under the form of contracts here in Malaysia, that architects charge a fee equivalent to a percentage of the final construction costs. That percentage sum varies, depending on building type and degree of repetition if modular, but there it is. And should the final construction cost rise with higher specifications on architectural materials, finishes or fittings, it is reflected as a subsequent rise in the percentage fee.

The concept of conflicting interests could never be more clearly defined.

Logically now. It means that the specifier stands to collect extra on an increase in cost of something specified. And, this being architecture, everything which ends as a specification could be simply justified in the name of aesthetics. The absolute beauty of the system is its sheer audacity... clients and lay people are simply not trained to question professional opinion on aesthetics or to be critical. Simply brilliant.

It is apparent that a new way of working professional fees is left wanting, the current system being inherited from the British notwithstanding. I propose a fee structure which may be left to each architect to decide: the proviso is that every fee structure be absolutely up front, no hidden costs or agendas, to be presented in a final sum which does not change from the moment the contract is signed and sealed. Variations based on revisions of design not caused by the architect, through foresight or lack thereof, may then be charged a fee based on the extent of the change, be it square footage, detail or design layout. Every other aspect of the fee proposal, however, will be fixed, in all fairness and in good faith.

It simply feels that better buildings would be produced in this way, with professional fee based less on the import duties of strange materials or technologies, and more on the pure creative effort of the individual architect. Never mind that it would be a touch more morally defensible, architecture would simply become what architects bring to it rather than what the next shipping container just brought in.



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