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Professional Fees – A commentary on the Architectural (SACAP) Fee Guidelines

Professional Fees – A commentary on the Architectural (SACAP) Fee Guidelines

Oostewald van Niekerk
29th May, 2023

In this blog I will be highlighting some important aspects of the SACAP fee scales as an attempt to better understand the pitfalls of Professional Fee Scales and the use there of.

The Government Gazette is very clear in that the fee scales are referred to as a guideline professional fee and thus not a prescribed fee that a professional is entitled to. It further states that the fee tables represent the fees for a full service by a hypothetical average sized architectural practice. The guideline fee scale is not suitable for use in a basket of professional fees calculation, larger discounts and agreements pertaining to such discounts will have to be discussed between the professional and the client.  

The guideline fee is specific in that it is for the full architectural service which is divided into 6 work stages: Inception, Concept and Viability, Design Development, Documentation and Procurement, Construction and Close-out. Various additional services are listed under clause 12 of the guideline, and it is important to make notice of Interior Design – The design of interiors and the selection of furnishings, fixtures, and special finishes, are not being part of the guideline fee.  Specialized equipment lay-out is also separate from the fee calculation.

The guideline places a lot of emphasis on project cost-based fees, however it should be noted that the final fee must be calculated on the final cost of the works.  A further noteworthy pitfall is to take cognisance of the reduced service, especially if the architect is not the principal agent. A reduction of 10% of the fee for stages 5 and 6 may be considered. Similarly, if the architect is not the principal consultant a further reduction of the fee may be negotiated.

Replication work attracts reduction in the proposed fees as follows:  the guideline allows for full fees for the prototype building, there after the adjusted fee must be applied to the repeated buildings.  The reduced fee is only applied to work stages 1 – 4 and not to work stages 5 and 6.  It is important to consult the Guide on the definitions of Replication work, with specific reference to ‘Prototype’, Prototype does not apply to similar floors or divisions in a multi storey building.  

Other adjustments to the guideline fees are stipulated for alterations work and for additions to existing works. A 30% increase in fees are recommended for the portion of the works affected by the alterations, similarly a 30% increase in the fee is recommended for the portion of work associated with the parts of the additions interfacing with the existing building. Other increases in the fee are for a portion of the work affected by heritage considerations, the recommended increase for heritage considerations is 40%. It is noteworthy that in all the adjustments mentioned, it is not the entire fee that is subject to adjustment, but rather the portion of the fee that is affected by the interface as mentioned above.

The guidelines provide for the situation where an Architect can take over incomplete work of another professional. It should be noted that it is our opinion that when such work is taken over it must be done in a professional manner.  The previous architect must be notified of such a takeover, and the new architect must ensure that the previous professional has been paid for work done to date. Then an appropriate budget must be agreed upon for the incomplete work stages including the fee for these incomplete work stages, alternatively the stage in which the service is commencing may be subject to an increase of 25% of the original professionals’ fee.

Typical instances that we as professionals are normally not compensated for, but we are entitled to is the following: Deployment to site - When it is a requirement to deploy an architect to site for inspection or any other agreed purpose, the amount of the reimbursement shall be the total cost of the employment plus 30%. Extended initial contract period – when the contract period is exceeded by more than 10% (through no fault of the architect) the professional is eligible for an hourly rate according to the effective professional guidelines fees together with related reimbursable expenses. The professional however should notify the client in writing of the extended period.  The fee shall not be linked to a contractor’s performance or progress. Fast Tracking – the professional may be compensated for the cost of additional employment plus 30%. Travelling time – this must be a cost-based fee according to time charges at 100% of the hourly rate for travel greater than 1 hour and 50km per trip.

Lastly, I would like to touch on claims against the professional. Each claim against the professional shall be dealt with on its own merits. A client is not entitled to withhold payment of fees or part thereof, based on the alleged claim, the client shall make payment without any set-off. Should a professional error, omission or negligence be implied, the client must follow the dispute resolution procedure or litigation to claim from the professional.  No penalties shall be applied on the professional service agreement contracts.

 

It is clear that the Government Gazette’s fee scale is a guideline and should not be followed rigidly but rather be open for discussion and negotiation between the professional and the client.



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