How to manage client expectations

Whether you are an architect or a plumber, keeping the client happy is always going to be a top priority. 

One way to keep the client happy is to manage expectations, and do so early in the process.  

In our most recent Huddle event, we sat down with Richard Armstrong, founder of ProCalc. ProCalc is a professional construction estimator for Australian architects and designers that calculates construction costs at sketch and early concept design.  

By estimating project costs early in the design process, ProCalc allows architects to better manage expectations with clients and overall facilitate a better relationship. 

In addition to using ProCalc, here are Richard’s five key steps that architects can take to improve their budgeting process with clients: 

  1. Qualify the client. Brainstorm your “budget statement” and work that into the first conversation with a client. For example, you might say ‘We are an X architecture firm and like to work on projects in excess of $500,000.’ That helps set an expectation with the client from the moment they first inquire. If the client then decides to proceed, they know what kind of space they are playing in and it will become easier down the road. 

  2. Set budget expectations.  You can set budget expectations as early as the first contact. When confirming a meeting or inquiry, include photos of your past work and the budgets associated with them. This will help the client understand how much everything costs before meeting with you. It might even drive the clients to have a conversation about whether they need to reduce their scope.  

  3. Inform and support the client. As the design process begins, make sure to present each design concept with a budget attached. You want to inform and walk the client through the process, no matter what rate or estimation process you choose to use. If plans develop as the project progresses, you can easily use ProCalc to calculate how much an extra bathroom or outdoor deck might cost and then present that information to the client. In doing so, you’re then making the client more accountable and responsible for their design requisites.  

  4. Manage risk with a Quantity Surveyor. Employing a Quantity Surveyor, a qualified professional who specialises in building measurement and estimates the value of construction costs, will provide you and the client with a greater piece of mind. These are well-trained and insured professionals who can provide you with cost planning and construction advice.  

  5. Competitive tender. When engaging a builder, consider engaging in a competitive bidding process. A competitive tendering process will force the potential builders to really scrutinize their tender and find places where they can reduce costs and thus fare better than their competitors. This will allow you to save money in the long run. 


To learn more about ProCalc, check out their website at You can also connect with Richard on LinkedIn 

Creating a positive client journey in your practice is one piece of the puzzle. If you’re looking for more tips, strategies and advice on how you can lead a profitable and impactful architecture practice, check out our Programs and Courses. Alternatively, you can contact us directly by filling out this form, and we’ll find a time to chat about your needs and how Archibiz can help.