Frequently Asked Questions.
If you don’t know now you know…

Advocate architecture & full design services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

01 / You have questions

I have answers.

It never hurts to ask.

The questions asked most frequently…



General Project FAQs


  • Q: How much will this cost?
  • Q: What about design fees? Are they included?
  • Q: How long will it take?
  • Q: Who is on your team?
  • Q: When can we get started?
Q: How much will this cost?

Without more information it’s impossible to tell. You can estimate square foot costs x the area of construction, but that will really only give you +/- 40% accuracy. Not much better than a WAG (wild ass guess). You also need to consider “soft” costs: contingency, professional fees, administration. The easiest way is to multiply your construction estimate x 1.5 to get a sense of what your total project costs will be.

Visit the resources page for an online cost calculator or download the Project Planning Pack for more information.

Q: What about design fees? Are they included?

Design fees are included in the overall project budget and considered a “soft” cost. They are typically estimated as a percentage based on the construction budget – somewhere between 9-17% including standard engineering. The range of percentage is due to the varying complexity of project types and their scales.

As design professionals, we are trading time and expertise for money. It’s as straight forward as that.

For more information on architectural fees, download the RAIC Guide to Determining Appropriate Fees for the Services of an Architect.
Q: How long will it take?
No easy questions from you, eh? Every project is unique. At this stage of the project everyone is raring to go and dive in without really understanding how we should proceed. Let’s spend the time together and sort through your particular needs and requirements. Through that process we can create a proper construction budget, assemble the best team, determine the appropriate design fees, and set up a production schedule that is achievable without frustration.
Q: Who is on your team?

JC ROBBINS ARCHITECTURE has a number of consultants to work with who all have unique strengths to bring to certain projects. Once we define your requirements through an Options Review we will find the best team for you!

In the meantime, check out the About page for a list of consultants we’ve used so far.
Q: When can we get started?

Advocate Architect FAQs


  • Q: What does an advocate architect do?
  • Q: I’m trying to save money. Why would I hire another architect?
  • Q: Why do I need an advocate architect? Don’t I already have an architect?
  • Q: Do I need the other architects then?
  • Q: I’m an architect. It seems like you’re taking work away from me. Why would I support that?
  • Q: It sounds good. Are there other benefits to me?
Q: What does an advocate architect do?

An advocate architect works on behalf of the client preparing conceptional & schematic plans, diagrams & specifications when there is no direct contractural relationship with the architect or the ownership team would like “in-house” representation.

An advocate architect is dedicated to your best interest and works on the team to make sure decisions being made are in your best interest.

Q: I’m trying to save money. Why would I hire another architect?

The greatest value of advocate architecture services are communicating your requirements to the consulting architect and contractor more clearly — and vice versa. This enhanced communication means you will avoid costly changes or suprises that often occur during later stages of design or into construction.

The more detail we can give the consultant architect at the beginning of the project, the better their technical proposals will be, giving you a smoother construction process and better architecture.

Q: Why do I need an advocate architect? Don’t I already have an architect?
As an advocate architect, I am able to spend the necessary time understanding your specific requirements. Developing a clear design brief, and knowing which kind of project delivery method can be a difficult and risky procedure. When you go out straight to an architect without a complete design brief, you risk budget and schedule overruns, and surprises when you don’t want them.
Q: Do I need the other architects then?

Yes. All architects serve to protect the Public Interest, but with different roles.

Depending on the size of your project, you will already have a Design Architect and possibly a Project Architect. Some firms will even set up a third architect to oversee construction — even if they were not involved in the design and development process.

We’re all striving for the same goal – to give you an amazing space. But, sometimes when difficult decisions need to be made, we are influenced by our particular interests. The Design Architect team is protective of their design. The Project Architect is worried about construction details & schedule. And if the contract is between a benevolent developer and the architect you have even less influence on the process.

The Advocate Architect is your voice to make sure your building is exactly what you need — especially when funding changes.

Q: I’m an architect. It seems like you’re taking work away from me. Why would I support that?

We will all do better work when the design brief is more clear and better resolved.

When clients use an advocate architect we are able to focus our efforts and avoid changes that affect your bottom line and the client’s. The greatest value an advocate architect brings to a project is clear communication. We all strive to be better communicators but it’s hard to find the time when we’re all working on multiple projects.

It works out better for everyone.

Q: It sounds good. Are there other benefits to me?

Why, yes there are. I’m glad you asked.

Another important benefit to clients and architects is in the case of feasibility studies. There is often an exclusion for architects who participate in a feasibility study, so they can’t participate in the RFP for the design project. This can create a problem because a firm that wants to be awarded the design won’t develop the feasibility creating an imbalance.

By using an advocate architect to develop the feasibility, or concept design, the best design team can propose on the project creating a better process for everyone.


More about fees?

There are a number of ways to answer this for you…

Fees are based on the RAIC’s “A Guide to Determining Appropriate Fees for the Services of an Architect” using the Construction Costs with Basic Engineering, and considering building type & complexity.

Now available for free to all.


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  • % Based Fees & Fixed Fees
  • Hourly Fees
  • A Hybrid System

A project is typically broken into phases including:

  • Pre-design (outside typcial scope of practice)
  • Schematic Design ~ 15%
  • Design Development ~ 20%
  • Construction Documents ~ 40%
  • Tender & Bidding ~ 5%
  • Construction Administration ~ 20%

Using this as a guide, we can multiply the expected level of effort for each stage of the project into a fixed fee.

Sometimes the stage of the project is such that the requirements are really unknown making it nearly impossible to establish a fixed fee.

In situations like this, it’s best to work with an hourly rate to get the work done.

And that brings us to our hybrid system.

Within the hybrid system, we can start out with a fixed fee project assessment. This is a simple but essential component in the process where we identify your project goals and requirements.

We would then follow that with an hourly rate to establish the project brief and the most efficient way to set up your project for success.

With that in place we can move back to a fixed fee based on the complexity of the project.