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Old 05.02.2010, 19:17
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Architect fees nightmare

Help! We commisioned an architect to work on a renovation project for our house in Valais. We weren't able to get the finance together for the project and now the architect says that we owe him 200,000chf for the work he has done to date (a couple of plans and getting planning permission, no buiilding has been done). Can this be right? Lucy
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:20
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

In simple yes it can be right if the project is big. Did you ask him how much his work was going to cost before you started, etc, etc?

Give us some background to the project you had him work on, simple extension or a castle?
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:24
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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Help! We commisioned an architect to work on a renovation project for our house in Valais. We weren't able to get the finance together for the project and now the architect says that we owe him 200,000chf for the work he has done to date (a couple of plans and getting planning permission, no buiilding has been done). Can this be right? Lucy
I just looked at your web site from a previous posting:
http://www.coeurvert.ch/
If that is the property you were building CHF 6750 per M2 and it was 770 M2, then it had a retail price of CHF 5,200,000 and so I suppose 200,000 CHF is a small fee 3.8% of Retail value.
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:26
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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I just looked at your web site from a previous posting:
http://www.coeurvert.ch/
If that is the property you were building CHF 6750 per M2 and it was 770 M2, then it had a retail price of CHF 5,200,000 and so I suppose 200,000 CHF is a small fee 3.8% of Retail value.
He gave you over 50% discount
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:31
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

Project was to convert chalet into flats, the inital quote for the build was 3.65 million but we were bringing that down. We've got approved plans but only very basic ones - not for pipes, plugpoints etc.
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:34
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

I would have a meeting with the architect and try and negotiate something with him. Ask him to detail his costs and explain why it is so high. Pity it did not go ahead looked like and interesting project.
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:36
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

Thank you very much for your replies - it sounds reasonable when you put it like that. Problem is that it hasn't gone ahead so we don't have that sort of money.
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:38
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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Thank you very much for your replies - it sounds reasonable when you put it like that. Problem is that it hasn't gone ahead so we don't have that sort of money.
Yes but what was in your initial contract ? We have had a similar experience in the UK and did indeed have to pay the architect for their work based on a projection of the final cost even though the work did not proceed though we amicably agreed a fee somewhere in the middle as the work did not commence. It comes down to the contract.
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:40
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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Thank you very much for your replies - it sounds reasonable when you put it like that. Problem is that it hasn't gone ahead so we don't have that sort of money.
Looks like you are getting a bit burnt here, you should have break out clauses at each and every point and makes sure no one can go off spending your money as they will. Been there done that and lost my shirt in the process.

Did you have a contract with him?

Did he provide anything in writing as to what his services would cost?
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:47
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

This is going to sound very niave - the architect is/was a friend. We don't have a contract and his fee projection was reasonable as part of the final costs of the building
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Old 05.02.2010, 19:50
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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This is going to sound very niave - the architect is/was a friend. We don't have a contract and his fee projection was reasonable as part of the final costs of the building
Well it is never going to be completed, neither is his high end bill. Sit them down and talk to them, sugest you can come to some sensible arrangement or they can sing.
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Old 05.02.2010, 20:08
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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This is going to sound very niave - the architect is/was a friend. We don't have a contract and his fee projection was reasonable as part of the final costs of the building
Friend????

You need to talk and throw in little questions like:
1) How many hours have you spent
2) How much is your hourly rate to your clients

For what you describe on CHF 3,000,000 of work with drawing and services not completed on drawing prices, then it is expensive.
Saying that, how did you get to the figure of CHF 3,000,000 if you didn't have detailed costings?

A bit of advise for the future:
Even if you have friends, I always get an outside rough cost to see if my "friends" (read below) are honest or taking advantage.
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Old 05.02.2010, 20:16
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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This is going to sound very niave - the architect is/was a friend.
Been there done that, with predictably disasterous results. I have a rule now that basically means I will not employ friends or family, nor will I offer my services to friends or family. A bit of advice over a pint is ok, but anything further than that is a no no.

Sorry I can't really help much in this topic, and that my comments are a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, but I do wish you luck in coming to an amicable solution.
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Old 05.02.2010, 20:16
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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Friend????

You need to talk and throw in little questions like:
1) How many hours have you spent
2) How much is your hourly rate to your clients

For what you describe on CHF 3,000,000 of work with drawing and services not completed on drawing prices, then it is expensive.
Saying that, how did you get to the figure of CHF 3,000,000 if you didn't have detailed costings?

A bit of advise for the future:
Even if you have friends, I always get an outside rough cost to see if my "friends" (read below) are honest or taking advantage.
Yes, agree with what "Cashboy" has said above. The only way to resolve this is to have a meeting and hammer this one out I am afraid.
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Old 05.02.2010, 21:22
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

I would negotiate with him first and pay the fair aount for his work, after all, I understand he did what he was asked for. Otherwise, put it the other way around: did you sign any paper specifying the amount of work to be done and the conditions? You may also say that you never agreed to pay the amount he is asking for, and that he went above and beyond you ever requested, hence you are not paying for something you didn't required.
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Old 05.02.2010, 22:17
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

If you've no contract then you don't have to pay him anything at all. However if he is the friend you describe him as, then I suggest you have a chat and work something out. By pointing out that you don't have much money to pay him and legally you're not obliged to pay him anything at all, then I suspect you'll quickly get your bill reduced.
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Old 05.02.2010, 23:42
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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If you've no contract then you don't have to pay him anything at all. However if he is the friend you describe him as, then I suggest you have a chat and work something out. By pointing out that you don't have much money to pay him and legally you're not obliged to pay him anything at all, then I suspect you'll quickly get your bill reduced.
Oral contracts are binding in CH and if he has plans etc, it will be quite easy to say that therer was an oral contract in place which the judge will accept and the onus will be on you to prove the contrary.
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Old 06.02.2010, 07:15
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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Oral contracts are binding in CH and if he has plans etc, it will be quite easy to say that therer was an oral contract in place which the judge will accept and the onus will be on you to prove the contrary.
But surely any court would look at the work done (OP reckons a few plans and whatever hours he spent on them) and would have to question whether 200K is a reasonable amount. I understand that the cost is arrived at by a % of the projected work but looking at it from a layman's point of view it almost looks like the OP is being conned.

The architect is charging for the job which presumably was part of his "verbal contract". Under the circumstances he hasn't been able to complete his job and has therefore not fulfilled his end of the verbal contract either.

The fee is dependent on the work being completed and therefore generating a profit out of which the fees can be paid. Otherwise the money is simply not there.
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Old 06.02.2010, 08:13
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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But surely any court would look at the work done (OP reckons a few plans and whatever hours he spent on them) and would have to question whether 200K is a reasonable amount. I understand that the cost is arrived at by a % of the projected work but looking at it from a layman's point of view it almost looks like the OP is being conned.

The architect is charging for the job which presumably was part of his "verbal contract". Under the circumstances he hasn't been able to complete his job and has therefore not fulfilled his end of the verbal contract either.

The fee is dependent on the work being completed and therefore generating a profit out of which the fees can be paid. Otherwise the money is simply not there.
The fact they didn't go ahead because they didn't have the money is not an argument to cancel a contract
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Old 06.02.2010, 08:43
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Re: Architect fees nightmare

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view it almost looks like the OP is being conned.
It almost looks to me like the OP didn't really have their ducks in a row...
  • Who gets an architect to do work without knowing what the fees are likely to be?
  • Why should an architect bear a risk of a building owner not getting financing?

This being said, I would certainly ask the architect for a very detailed invoice and go through it with a fine tooth comb.

Also, if you are dealing with a "local" in the Valais, do try and reach an agreement. Once you go to the authorities a "local" will have a head start...
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