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Architect fees


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True, it is normally a percentage of the amount/value that is assigned by the College of Engineers, which is why you agree to a percentage not an amount. When the architect or engineer submits the plans, the College reviews them and assigns a value based upon such things as square footage, features, and expected materials. That number is (fortunately!) usually lower than your actual costs will be.


When you actually begin building, whether you stay close to that estimate will be determined by you (and the price of materials at that time.) The materials you select (e.g. granite, cabinets, doors, fixtures, etc.) are usually better quality than the engineers would expect. There are often changes or additions you decide to make, which also increase the cost but don't affect the agreed-on percentage.


So you won't really know even a ball park estimate, unless your architect or engineer helps with that. I've seen the College value being 25% or more lower than the actual construction cost. Most gringo construction that I have known cost more than the $50k you mention.


Also remember that you are required to have an engineer, who visits the ongoing construction and records things. It is a College requirement. If you have both an engineer and architect they (hopefully) work as a team, and will both be part of that percentage-based payment. Be sure to ask your architect that question.


When construction happens, you pay the materials as they're needed. You pay the labor (including their CAJA, INS, and Aguinaldo) although you may get the engineer or architect to do the legwork, for a fee.

Edited by CMinCR
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We had a different experience, we had our architect design our house from scratch. Once the design was achieved and we were a go we were given a figure for Gustavo's fees and that is what we paid. That fee included regular visits to the project. It did not matter what we put in the house in any way. We put in extra money for things we wanted and that did not change Gustavo's fee at all.

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On average it is 10-15% of the estimated cost of the project. The best is to have architect and builder work as a team.

Have a contract" turn key" or "LLaves en Mano".

Architect will charge more if he only does planos, preliminary estudios, permits...

You will have to pay additionally ( or increase %) for monitoring the construction, for example : weekly, bi-weekly, monthly ...

You have to get bids from 3-4 and see which one you can trust...

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"Fair" needs to be determined by you, the owner. There are certain fees you do not have to pay due to the size of your casa.....I am making a small assumption here based on a $50K budget. However, outside of a 'fair' fee will this Company or individual need to get permits? Title insurance? Are there any special considerations that need to be evaluated on your land? Will you split out labor vs materials and if so, there are considerations you need to protect yourself. I don't mean to put this back on you, but there are several things to consider what your builder/architect will do for you that is part of what is "fair" - also including will you be at the site during the build to observe/manage/help? We negotiated a fixed fee, took our time, changed some things which we felt was 'out-of-scope' and paid a bit more and we are still not quite there, but are very happy with the progress. Hope this opinion helps....

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We paid the architect a flat fee of $5,000. We made our own design drawings with all measurements including doors, windows etc. for indoors and out. The architect drew them up - we checked them (sent them back a few times as their measurements on the drawings were not correct as per our drawings). When all was right they sent them off to the college and we had the house built.

Good luck with your build!

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Architect fees are totally negotiable within a certain range. Values on a construction as noted are determined by the architect college based on the architect design presented. The value determined and listed on the college receipts and on the plans presented determine what you pay to the municipality for taxes on construction and the INS employee insurance. Both of those are a fixed percentage of value.


While I am not advocating the following I present simply as a method that many Ticos use when getting plans and permissions.

What many Ticos do as I understand it is have an architecture student provide the plans and then get a licensed architect to sign the plans for a fee. The architect in this scenario actually does not view the property but simply for a fee signs the plans so that the plans can be submitted to the college.


Some Ticos will have the plans include less square meters of construction, no ceilings, no tile floors etc which impacts the value coming out of the college. Then the plans are submitted to the municipality (in some cases other government entities need to sign based on watersheds, risk of building based on being near a slope etc).


I am told that there is a rule that if the construction is less than 30 square meters (which is very small about 310SF) then you get a waiver on the need for an architect and can simply provide a basic drawing for approval. I do not see how this option would work personally but am told some people do it this way then build much more sq. footage and take a risk of a fine.

The value of the plans determines the fee to the municipality and they will provide a receipt which is used to go to INS for the insurance for the workers.


Then as I understand it the Ticos build out the actual construction as they desire basically altering the presented construction plans and hoping that an inspector does not visit or if they do get a visit they may have to pay a fine for building different than the plans submitted.


I guess this varies depending on the municipality the construction is in. Many localities do not inspect (particularly if it is a smaller more rural area) actual construction.


Keep in mind I am not advocating any method but simply passing on info from some Tico friends who have done construction and I have discussed the process with them simply out of curiosity.


I assume that this tactic requires that the owner is involved in the construction (as have my friends have been who related this to me) and handles most of the details.


In order to reduce costs the most efficient way is for the owner to be involved in the construction, have some knowledge of construction and even manage the construction including sourcing and buying the materials etc. Obviously the owner would need to speak and understand at least a basic level of Spanish to manage this. Actually supervising construction (if the person knows construction) is best as if an owner does a set fee contract then the materials used can be substandard or short cuts can occur which affect the integrity of the final construction. This supervision process is what an architect should do for an owner that has no construction experience to assure that it is built properly. So in the case of no construction knowledge paying a higher fee can be worth it (if the architect actually visits the site during construction especially before pouring footings, columns etc). But the owner in this case should clearly stipulate number of visits etc.


In any case as for architecture fees on a 50K US construction should be far less than 10-15% or $5,000 - $7,500. Even if it includes fees for passing the college. Seems very high. This is based on a discussion I had from a friend who recently built a smaller building.


Again I am not advocating anything simply presenting info passed on by Ticos.


Good luck on the construction.

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Thanks for all the answers, to my post. Our architect will work closely with our builder and a good friend as the project manager. His fee of $2500 seem good to me for what he will be doing for us, it will include a couple of visits and then $50 a visit twice a month until project is finish to fill the necessary building blog that is required by the college of architects. Again thanks for the help and advice.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi there.


The official fees according to CFIA (Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa RIca or Association of Engineers and Architects) are in total 10.5%, minimum, over the investment for building, including additions, but It is the usual percentage my clients and I agree about the work to do. I have to clarify that for renovations the fees are 50% more, according to CFIA.


It includes the preliminary studies (a soil test, technical and legal viability depending on the nowadays regulations and laws, etc), the pre-design from the client`s ideas and needs, making the first architectural sketches from that to preper the final design or blueprints (the architecture, the structure, the plumbing and the electricity systems for the project), then, going for CFIA approval and the local municipalities permits. It is also included the technical supervision, once a week during the building time until it project is done, ready to be used.


Besides of that 10.5%, you have to pay separately round 0.5% to CFIA for the approval plus 1% to the municipality for the permits.


So, in total, you would pay around 12% for the these services and taxes.


As another friend says, the good part is we, as registered members of CFIA, can report the average price for the project, which could be less than the final investment for real, so, you, as the onwer, would pay something less at the end.


Once you have the blueprints done, you can ask for bids to differents builders, and, if the professional himself builds your project as well, which is the usual in my case with my customers, we, as the professionals, are allowed to offer a discount about these services to the clients because we are doing everything as a package.


Ask your engineer or architect about it and I am pretty sure he or she would give you a fair price, as I usually do.


I hope this extra info is good to make decisions for getting a nice and affordable project.


Suerte y hasta pronto.

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