When it comes to hiring an architect, it can be incredibly difficult to compare quotes and know what each firm brings to the table. What criteria should you be using to find the best fit?

When comparing architectural bids, you should be thinking about the overall value, not just the cost.

In this article, we’re diving into why we charge what we do and why going with the lowest bid you received isn’t a good idea.

Why Not Go With the Lowest Bid?

When you’re considering making a big investment, you will likely shop around and go with the best price. But hiring an architect is not like buying a car. When you’re buying a product there is a clear market price, so you know whether what you’re paying is fair or not. But it doesn’t work the same way when you’re paying for a service. Especially for specialized services that require years of training, expertise, and experience.

Like a doctor or a lawyer, an architect is a licensed professional who has gone through a significant amount of training and education. You’re paying for an architect’s time, and extensive knowledge and experience to guide you through the complexities of design and construction.

When you’re comparing costs you may be talking to different types of professionals like home designers and architects. A designer’s fees will be lower, but it’s important to note that designers don’t have the same level of training and knowledge as architects so they cannot be considered equally. An architect’s more extensive knowledge and experience is often preferred but is not always needed for very small projects.

As with any type of business, not all architecture firms operate the same. Some architects are sole proprietors and do not have the support staff to manage projects efficiently. Others may rely on unpaid or low-paid interns who only work part-time. This means your project may suffer from a lack of resources, delays, or substandard service.

At Letter Four, you are our top priority, and the way we run our business reflects that. We’ve assembled a skilled team who are compensated fairly and benefit from a great work environment and work-life balance. By caring for our staff and the people who work for us, we are able to provide you with the high level of care and attention that you deserve.

Just as all architectural firms operate differently, not all architects are the same. Each architect has their own specialization and experience level. An architect’s quote may be lower because they don’t have the necessary level of knowledge or experience. You want an experienced architect that specializes in YOUR type of project. You need to be able to depend on them to design a building that is beautiful, to code, well-coordinated, and well built.

At Letter Four we specialize in residential and commercial projects in Los Angeles. We’ve been in business for more than 11 years and have a proven track record. Whether you are planning a new home, office, or retail space, we create stunning architectural designs to fit your needs within your budget and time frame, while also managing the intricacies of construction all under one roof.

What Do Letter Four’s Architectural Fees Include?

When working with Letter Four, you’re not buying a product, you’re paying for a service.

Our architectural fees include the time it takes to create and document a custom design for your building project. They also account for our excellent project communication, our software, our experience, and our expertise.

Unlike other architectural firms, our fees are not only based on a percentage of the construction cost but also take into account the high level of design and quality of service we offer. As well as how quickly we’re able to deliver the project.

So you get first-rate designs, professionally, and in a timely manner.

The Value Letter Four Offers

If you get multiple bids, we likely won’t be the lowest one you receive, but there’s a reason for that. You’re paying for quality. Our fees speak to the immense value our services provide.

We won’t be the best fit for every client or project, and that’s okay.

We’re Experts in the Industry

With over 11 years of experience, we are experts when it comes to designing and building both residential and commercial buildings in the Los Angeles area. So you know you’re in good hands.

Our high-quality designs focus on creating beautiful and functional spaces that fit your lifestyle. We don’t do cookie-cutter designs but create unique spaces with your style and personality in mind. We listen as you describe your day-to-day routine and then create a layout and environment that’s ideal for you.

To ensure your needs are met, we’re adept at problem-solving. No two projects are the same, each has its own unique set of challenges. We listen to your feedback and use our experience to create a custom solution to your project’s needs and site conditions.

With your well-being in mind, we focus on creating healthy and safe environments inside and out. This includes making sure non-toxic materials are used and that there is good air quality and high-quality lighting. We only create buildings with structural integrity that are code compliant.

We’re Experts in Project Management

At Letter Four, we’re not only experts at designing and building homes and commercial spaces, but we’re also experts in project management. We ensure that the whole project will run as smoothly as possible from start to finish. This means much less stress for you!

To get you the best possible results, we have developed a tried and true process. We work through several design phases, so all questions are answered, and you’ll be happy with the final result. This also ensures there’s a solid plan in place prior to starting construction, making the execution phase work efficiently.

To streamline our process and provide clear and transparent communication, we use the latest software and technology. It allows us to create both 2D and 3D building designs, floor plans, and elevation schematics needed to both visualize and execute your design. This means you can see every aspect of your project prior to starting construction. You also get full access to everything related to your project including project documents, schedules, design inspiration, meeting notes, and project financials.

We take care of the permitting and legal requirements for you. We know the legal codes, zoning, and liability insurance laws, so you know everything is done by the book, but don’t have to worry about getting into the weeds yourself.

With our top-notch customer service, you have a clear picture of what to expect upfront and remain updated along the way, so there is no guesswork. If any questions or concerns arise, you have a dedicated liaison ready to help.

You Get a Good Return on Your Investment

You may feel like you’re paying more upfront for our experience and high level of services, but in the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

For a one-time fee, you’re getting incredible investment value that will last a lifetime.

By optimizing design, we focus on creating energy-efficient spaces that save you money and are environmentally friendly.

For both residential and commercial properties, green building is a smart investment. Green homes sell for more, save more on utilities, and are eligible for tax rebates. Homeowners report an average savings of 20-30% on utilities (USGBC). While green commercial buildings report 10-20% lower operational and maintenance costs (USGBC).

We make sure your home is durable and designed to last. We stay up to date with the latest advancements in building materials and products. Based on your unique project requirements, we carefully select the best materials, equipment, and fixtures so you’ll have lower maintenance costs in the long run.

Because we know the industry, we know what affects property values. We help you make smart design decisions that will add to the resale value of your home or property (and help you avoid mistakes that will negatively affect the value). Your initial investment of $900,000 for a new home may end up being worth $2,500,000 in value, for example.

For commercial or office buildings, we know that architecture has a significant impact on your employees’ well-being, performance, and engagement level. That’s why we design spaces that inspire creativity and productivity. We take into consideration access to light and nature, spaces for collaboration, flexible design, and more so your business can thrive.

For retail spaces, we understand that the way a building is designed influences the customer and their shopping experience. It also has to meet many practical needs of the business. So we focus on tenant improvements to create spaces that stand out, are functional, and are designed to sell your product or service.

Thinking about planning a new building and want to make sure you’re getting the most value out of your project? Learn more about our architectural services or contact us today.