Understanding the time, cost and resource needs for a project is vital to the business viability of every architectural practice and better understandings will help architects make better decisions when negotiating fees.

This is the premise behind the Association of Consulting Architects Australia’s (ACA) new estimating tool, the Architects’ Time/Cost Calculation Guide which will be released to ACA members on a state-by-state basis in March and April.

The Guide promises to help architects make better decisions about the time and resources required for a project so they are in a better position to negotiate fees to an appropriate standard.

It combines information supplied by users about their practice’s overheads, costs, expertise and project particulars with historic data about required hours to generate a suggested fee. It enables practices to tailor this information and knowledge to the particulars of their office. 

The guide will work in the following process:

The Guide Process 

The Architects’ Time/Cost Calculation Guide provides a four-step process:

  • Steps 1 and 2 allow practices to calculate their office overheads and office variables – this means that the cost calculations for each project are specific to the particulars of the individual practice. The data entered for Step 1 and 2 remain in place over time, and can be readily edited as practice circumstances change. 
  • Step 3 identifies the estimated range of hours required for the project, based on multiple sets of historic data for different project types.
  • Step 4 identifies a charge-out rate for the project based on the information supplied about the practice and the project. Individual practices must then make their own adjustments in relation to project hours – based on specific knowledge of the expertise and experience within the practice. This enables the architect to determine a fee appropriate to their circumstances.


The Guide has two levels of access:

  • Practice Directors
    Directors have access to all steps. This enables them to enter information about office overheads and variables into Step 1 and 2, as well as completing the project specific information for Steps 3 and 4.
  • Project Architects
    Project architects have access to Steps 3 and 4 only. This allows them to calculate time and costs for particular projects, without being privy to the office’s financial data.

The guide is an ACA members-only resource. Members will have access to the guide after the following state seminars:

  • 5 March — ACA – Vic/Tas launch, Melbourne
  • 19 March —  ACA – SA launch, Adelaide (booking details to come shortly)  
  • 25 March — ACA – NSW/ACT launch, Sydney                          
  • 26 March — ACA – QLD/NT launch, Brisbane                              
  • To be confirmed — ACA – WA launch, Perth