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citygirl

A&a On Inter-terrace House

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I have recently purchased a 30+ year inter-terrace house in Serangoon Gardens. It is 2 storeys, 2500 square feet land, about 2900 square feet built-up.

I consulted with an architect (famous, award-winning) and he kindly drew up two rough designs for me, one for a reconstruction and another for an A&A. We liked the A&A design better and would like to proceed with it. The works to be carried out is pretty extensive - adding an attic to make the structure 2.5 storeys high, maximising the land usage by extending the existing house front and back, refurbishing the entire house... literally everything except the foundation.

His advice is that we need to appoint an Architect, a Structural Engineer and a Quantity Surveyor.

The quotes I received so far are:

Architect's Fees: 10.75% of total construction cost, covering everything from concept drawings, hardscaping, fixed interior design, supervising contractor etc.

Structural Engineer Fees: S$15,000

Quantity Surveyor: S$9,000

The architect said that we should budget about a million for the entire project, using modest materials, though that is only a rough estimate as it is the quantity surveyor who will do up the costing.

Do the fees and the architect's estimate look reasonable? As I read the entries of other forumers where I see sums like S$250,000 - 500,000 for an A&A being mentioned, I fear that I am overpaying. Or do you think my architect is just giving the high-end side of the estimate? I realise that architects usually quote a percentage of contruction cost as their fees; is 10.75% a good rate?

While I don't mind paying a slight premium for a really beautiful design from an award-winning architect, I do not want to overpay either. So grateful for any views and advice! Thanks!

 

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Wow! cant wait to see the design.

1 mil can do rebuilt from scratch. Recon normally goes for about 600k.

and A & A varies from 250450k.

I think u are over paying. furthermore, with 1 mil plonked into the A & A,

Would u think u will be able to resell on the market for a minimum of breakeven cost?

For me thats, negative investment.

all the best...

 

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Wow! cant wait to see the design.

1 mil can do rebuilt from scratch. Recon normally goes for about 600k.

and A & A varies from 250450k.

I think u are over paying. furthermore, with 1 mil plonked into the A & A,

Would u think u will be able to resell on the market for a minimum of breakeven cost?

For me thats, negative investment.

all the best...

Hi moneymonkey,

Thanks for your view. I guess I'm harbouring hope that he was just being on the safe side when estimating S$1m. As he quoted me a percentage of total construction cost, it still boils down to how much the construction costs so if we go for truly modest materials, we may not get to S$1m. He did encourage us to do a recon, but the estimate for that was S$1.2m. I had spoken to another award-winning architect two years back and the estimate was about the same. Perhaps I should stop looking at award-winning architects!

Edited by citygirl
 

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Hi moneymonkey,

Thanks for your view. I guess I'm harbouring hope that he was just being on the safe side when estimating S$1m. As he quoted me a percentage of total construction cost, it still boils down to how much the construction costs so if we go for truly modest materials, we may not get to S$1m. He did encourage us to do a recon, but the estimate for that was S$1.2m. I had spoken to another award-winning architect two years back and the estimate was about the same. Perhaps I should stop looking at award-winning architects!

1 million for an A&A is definitely overpaying. Part of reason could be that you pay your archi percentage of costs. This incentivises him to inflate costs. Negotiate for flat rate. His time and effort can be scoped in man days. No need to pay more just 'cos your building costs go up. Dump him and find another archi.

You may wanna check out my blogpost on architects. http://petunialee.blogspot.com/2010/09/hou...-architect.html

Edited by petunialee
 

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1 million for an A&A is definitely overpaying. Part of reason could be that you pay your archi percentage of costs. This incentivises him to inflate costs. Negotiate for flat rate. His time and effort can be scoped in man days. No need to pay more just 'cos your building costs go up. Dump him and find another archi.

You may wanna check out my blogpost on architects. http://petunialee.blogspot.com/2010/09/hou...-architect.html

Hi Petunialee, thanks for your response. Did your architect from heaven first give you a quote based on percentage of construction cost from which you negotiated a flat fee, or did he offer a flat fee first? If the former, can you share what his percentage was? I'm hoping to have some basis for comparison so that when I negotiate for a flat fee as well, I'd have a ballpark figure in mind. Thanks!

 

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Hi Petunialee, thanks for your response. Did your architect from heaven first give you a quote based on percentage of construction cost from which you negotiated a flat fee, or did he offer a flat fee first? If the former, can you share what his percentage was? I'm hoping to have some basis for comparison so that when I negotiate for a flat fee as well, I'd have a ballpark figure in mind. Thanks!

Mine was a flat rate from the start because I have friends who work in the building industry and this was the first piece of advice they gave me. I told the architects that that if not flat fee, no need to quote.

I am paying my architect 70k for reconstructing a 2.5 storey semi- detached (about 4000 sq ft), using modest materials such as homogeneous tiles and a hint of granite detailing in kitchen and toilets. I am demolishing everything to rebuild. I am paying 538k for the basic house sans cabinetry. This means all plumbing, electrical, tiles, gate and fence... That works out to be 13%? The logic behind a percentage costing is that the bigger the project the more drawings. For example... Condo or factory versus inter- terrace. However, if yours is inter-terrace, there is a limit to the number of drawings required. My architect calls mine a peanut house... Not much to do. So really, there is no call to do percentage.

I reckon that I am rather overpaying my architect for the contract sum but by paying him an extra 3%, he is motivated to help me save money on contract. The big savings are in the construction. You don't want to incentivise your architect to help the contractor earn more so that he himself can earn more. I gave him 20k more and he helped me save 200k. Quite good.

Trust is important. If you cannot trust your architect in terms of money, you will suffer through the building... Always suspecting that he is not being entirely upfront. The fact that you are asking and confirming all this shows that trust is not quite strong. Best to talk to a few other architects.

For your own peace of mind, design prowess needs to be balanced with honesty, propensity for strong and conscientious project management. Otherwise, you will suffer trying to supervise work yourself. My friend hated her architect after some time. He went to site once a month only! Also, the impt things in housebuilding is in areas you and I cannot evaluate. Type of cement etc... You dun want corners cut in the hidden corners of your house even whilst you have an award-winning design.

My PE is 12 k and my QS is 8k. They're excellent. Very responsive and thorough. Best of all, this architect is loyal to me,not to the contractor.

When negotiating building contract, contractors will price for risk. If they think you are a difficult client, or they don't know you... They will price higher in case you make them tear down and build etc... My 2 lowest quotes came from contractors that I had interviewed and chatted with... They assessed me as a low risk client. So my pricing is quite good. Those contractors whom I had never met priced about 100k more.

Make sure you invite to tender only those registered on BCA website. You dun want the fly by night ones who take your money and skip town.

The construction industry has been through ups and downs in the past 2 decades. People do whatever it takes to survive. It is easy to get creamed in the construction industry. As a first-time house builder, do be vigilant. I was hands off and trusting at the start... and I almost got creamed. Even when choosing contractors, choose one who is able to facilitate access to his past clients. Talk to his past clients and view the houses he has built. Visit his sites. If he is good, he will be able to get a past client to speak for him. If no past client testimonials... then think twice.

There is just too many unknowns in the project for you to risk it with a bad contractor. My friends in the building industry managed to get an even better contract price but I didn't dare take their contractor (who was not registered with BCA) because I am not from the industry. Their contractor won't play punk with them because they have influence in the industry. I chose only those with BCA registration... and I am happy with my price even though it is about 50K more than theirs (and I don't have marble and swimming pool).

Edited by petunialee
 

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Thanks petunialee for your detailed reply. You make a lot of very good points and I shall get more quotes from other architects. Would you be willing to share the contact of your architect, QS and SE? You can pm me the details, thanks!

 
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Your inter terr land size is huge. If max out to the envelope, I tink $1mil is about right for full reconstruction.

If adding attic, foundation may not be strong enough to support 1 more floor.

Since going to do so massive, might as well go for full reconstruction, then dun have to deal with those tiny columns in the middle of the house. Can raise level 1 ceiling height also.

 

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Your inter terr land size is huge. If max out to the envelope, I tink $1mil is about right for full reconstruction.

If adding attic, foundation may not be strong enough to support 1 more floor.

Since going to do so massive, might as well go for full reconstruction, then dun have to deal with those tiny columns in the middle of the house. Can raise level 1 ceiling height also.

Hi yoongf, thanks for your suggestion. Yes, after reading all the forum pages, I'm considering a reconstruction as well. I was just thinking that if my kids were to inherit the house 30 years from now, they'd probably have to redo the house and will then be building on a foundation that's 60 years! If I can do it now, I'll leave a slightly newer house for my kids! :-) So definitely considering a recon!

 

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Hi yoongf, thanks for your suggestion. Yes, after reading all the forum pages, I'm considering a reconstruction as well. I was just thinking that if my kids were to inherit the house 30 years from now, they'd probably have to redo the house and will then be building on a foundation that's 60 years! If I can do it now, I'll leave a slightly newer house for my kids! :-) So definitely considering a recon!

My semi-detached land area is 3600sq ft... my building contract is under 550K and I am building up to the max of that land area. Actually I can build 3 storeys. But I stop at 2.5 because I don't wanna have 2 helpers. Even if I build 3 storeys, it won't come to 1 million. So I kinda doubt your inter-terrace at 2500 sq ft of land will come to 1 million eh... unless you use very luxurious fittings.

 

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Hi citygirl, I am in a similar situation as you.

Ours is a inter terr with 2200sqf land and current 1800sqf build up on 2 storeys (abt 20yr).

We intend to have approx 3500sqf build up on 3 to 3.5 storeys. However, we do not intend to go max envelop as we enjoy the 2 car driveway (40ft) with lawn and a 20ft back yard with lawn. Going max envelop will make out house stick out like a sore thumb!

The property is currently in my parent's name and tenanted until Jun 2012. We intend to only start any sort of work after this date and move back in end 2013. I think the 1.5year timeline for the entire project will be sufficient.

Going by our build up requirement, I tink A&A is out as it seems that:

a) structural reinforcements may be insufficient

b) A&A requirements only allow increase of 50% GFA.

Hence, we will most prob be going to do a recon instead, this will also allow more flexibility in the layout and design of the house. I have a budget of $500k and I hope it doesnt increase too much when we actually commence on the project.

Have you started to source around for builders? I have not as I think they will not entertain until the date is closer. Am happy to have stumble on this thread as the information here is very important! When are you intending to commence your project?

Cheers

 

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Hi petunialee,

Thank you for providing very valuable information with regards to the people we need when building a house!

It is even more reassuring to read that you could build your house with $550K excluding the cost of the architect, PE, QS.

May I ask how you go about starting your project? I am clueless as to where to start and who to approach. I am also afraid of getting cheated by so called builders who ask for more each day the house is being build and stop when the money is insuffient!

Can you also share the contacts of the people involved in your project please? By pm.

Thank you so much!

 

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Hi wildfaye29,

I have just started on my project and think I'll have about a year to 1.5 years before I can move in. I started out by talking to an architect but as you can see from this thread, I might have made the wrong move by going to a well-known, award-winning one. From what I have deduced, because a "famous" architect is helming the project, I've been getting slightly higher quotes for everything. Eg. S$15K for PE (as opposed to petunialee's S$12K) and S$9K for QS (Petunialee's S$8K). I believe when contractors are invited to quote, they are likely to quote on a higher side as well, perhaps because they know my architect will demand a high standard from them. Of course, that is not to say that other architects will not demand high standards. :-)

Having said that, I spoke to another friend who is in the building industry and he mentioned that such costs (architect, PE etc.) for inter-terraces may be higher than semi-detached or detached homes because of the complexities involved and the difficulties working within a tight plot. Similarly, an A&A (like mine) is more complicated than a recon and likely to involve more work/calculations etc. hence the higher fees.

I am not inclined to supervise builders and contractors so I firmly believe in hiring a good architect who can take care of all that, even if it means paying a premium. Petunialee's S$70K for architect is high, compared to others, but if you see from her blog, a good architect makes all the difference. I think I have a good one as well, though a tad too pricey; let's see if I can get him to quote me a flat rate. I really like the design he has given me, for it's not a cookie cutter-type house. For my size, he even managed to get six good-sized bedrooms in it, plus spacious living, dining, dry and wet kitchens.

You're lucky you can build to 3/3.5 storeys. My terrace is in a zone where the max is 2.5 storeys. Anyway, good luck, and let's share more information as we move along!

Citygirl

 

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Hi petunialee,

Thank you for providing very valuable information with regards to the people we need when building a house!

It is even more reassuring to read that you could build your house with $550K excluding the cost of the architect, PE, QS.

May I ask how you go about starting your project? I am clueless as to where to start and who to approach. I am also afraid of getting cheated by so called builders who ask for more each day the house is being build and stop when the money is insuffient!

Can you also share the contacts of the people involved in your project please? By pm.

Thank you so much!

Hi Wildfaye,

May I link you to my blogpost to give you an idea of how to start? http://petunialee.blogspot.com/2010/09/hou...-architect.html

Inside that post is a link to another post which documents how I almost got cheated by a previous architect.

I am only starting demolition next week. Once works get under way, I can update my blog on the works progress and the quality of my contractor too.

 

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I believe when contractors are invited to quote, they are likely to quote on a higher side as well, perhaps because they know my architect will demand a high standard from them.

I'm thinking that it mayn't be an issue of building quality but of design quality. Award winning architects may have design specs that are special, innovative and therefore not so straightforward to build. My house is cheap because my design is very very very simple and my furnishings are very modest indeed. Yes, yes... do please all share as you go along. This is a stressful enough journey as it is so any companionship is welcome!!

Edited by petunialee
 

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