We had the good fortune of connecting with Sebastian Eilert, AIA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sebastian, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
A common misconception of clients is the cost and profit for architects, especially boutique firms. Too often I get rolling eyes when presenting my cost proposal for design work, indicating that my fee is outrageous and too high. There are 2 sides to this reaction that clients should understand. The first is that the process of creating takes time, energy, training and experience. It is a process that is very difficult to quantify. Even the “quick napkin sketch” that could be done within a few minutes is rooted in years of experience and developed skill. This “invisible cost” is typically not recognized or even dismissed by clients as the “visible” work product is always a result of this initial process. Second, there is the cost of operation and a surprisingly small profit margin to be considered over time. As licensed individuals, architects typically get involved in the very early stages of a project and will stay around until the very end – the good ones do. As such, our fee has to last. Think about the following (simplified) breakdown of time and profit: Example project of an office building to build for $2,000,000. An exceptionally good A/E fee of 10% (not common, 3%-5% more typical), would be $200,000 which includes required consultants that absorb approximately 40% of this fee. Design and permitting could be estimated at 6 month, with the construction and close out of an additional 18 month. The contractor will start to build this project after the permit is obtained, typically has a 10% profit margin and is scheduled to complete the work in 18 month , as per schedule. During the build, the architect also has legally binding obligations, so remains involved in the project. Simplified fees and profit: Architect for 24 month has a fee of $120,000 over 24 month, so $5,000 per month. With the same 10% profit margin, that would be $500 per month. The contractor will make just over $11,000 profit during their engagement monthly… Still think the architect’s fee is too high?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
With over 20 years experience in the construction industry in both the private as well as the government sectors I have worked on a variety of projects and with a broad spectrum of stakeholders. The project experience stretches from residential, commercial and industrial projects to multi-million dollar public facilities as well as LEED consulting for the NC, EB and H rating system of the USGBC. As a professional I dedicated my own firm to the advancement of sustainable principles and have applied green concepts in my architectural practice as well as numerous consulting projects. I am co-founder of the South Florida Chapter of the US Green Building Council, now the Florida Chapter, and past chair of the AIA Miami COTE and served on the board of a local Historic Preservation Organization. My knowledge in sustainable design has contributed to transforming the south Florida marketplace. I received the AIA Miami Historic Preservation (2005), Sustainable Design Architect (20011 & 2009) and Young Architect of the Year (2010) Awards for my efforts. Under my leadership, the firm was recognized as a top 25 sustainable design firm and projects have received sustainable design and historic preservation awards. Beyond my involvement in the green building industry I educated as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Architecture where I created a new lecture course, Contemporary sustainable design, taught from 2009 to 2014.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
off the beaten path. Viscaya – for history and beauty…through an architectural eye. Alabama Jack’s – for a “almost” Florida Keys experience Fairchild Tropical Gardens – for a little zen and a peak of how South Florida used to look Rusty Pelican – for a cocktail at dusk to watch the Miami Skyline illuminate South Point park – to watch the cruise ships head out (assuming they are running again) Garcias’s on the river – for good fish and some weekend boating watching. Coconut Grove Sailing Club – if access is granted to get a feel for the Grove and note that sailing is possible, opposed to the more common motorboats Red Fish grill – for movie nostalgia and the finest lagoon in Miami
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
…dedicated to the small firm architects.
Sebastian Eilert and Michael Stavaridis