Architect fees

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  • Architect fees
  • Premier Icon jimmy
    Subscriber

    How much would an architect charge for designing a one off house? Ball park figure for, say a 3 – 4 bedroom house. Does it depend on location / materials or anything like that or is that irrelevant at design stage?

    aP
    Member

    Maybe about 5-8% of the build cost.
    However it might be in both of your interests to agree a fixed fee maybe based on workstages.

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Subscriber

    for a new house you should be budgeting more like 15% of build cost, RIBA fee scales recommend approx 15%. the build cost of the house will depend on location materials etc therefore the fee will unless you negotiate a fixed fee as mentioned above.

    don’t forget the structural engineer!

    loddrik
    Member

    Seek pre app from the planning dept first, architects don’t know as much as they should!

    aP
    Member

    I would still suggest that you agree a series of fixed fee packages. for example – initial design, planning, detail design/ production information, tender, construction, close out.

    mk1fan
    Member

    Neither to Planners.

    You need to be realistic and understand what YOU want first before appointing any Professional. How much design creativaty do you want? Do you want a landmark building or something you can get on a Barrets estate? You’ll quickly sour any relationship if ‘waste’ time being vague – although any Professional will have a terms that allow for their fees to be revised should the Instruction change signifficantly / repeatedly.

    15% of the build cost is a good budgetry figure but you need to add VAT onto that too. Plus the other Professionals – Structural Engineer has already been mentioned depending on your spec a Services Engineer will be needed to. Then there’s the Planning Consent and Building Control applications and Warranty Indemities. Possible Party Wall matters too. Then QS and Project Management fees potentially too.

    Budgeting the Build Cost is where you should start. A single detached house private development a rate of £1350 per sq m should allow for something very nice.

    aP
    Member

    My 5-8% is based on much, much bigger projects – sorry I’m a bit out of touch on domestic work.
    I would still suggest starting off with a series of small commissions where you agree that for a fixed fee (with a simple agreement to revise this in the result of changes) they then develop a scheme with you, then when you sign it off to take it forwards to planning.

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Subscriber

    agreeing fixed packages will still be based on 15% or whatever and the fee is usually split to these work stages anyway. Fixed lump sum fee for first phases design,planning, building regs etc is the usual route and then take it from there. But its better to engage with a professional team you can build a relationship with from the start.

    Budgetwise I’d go for £1000/sqm as an absolute minimum to £2000/sqm for high spec. But it could be higher still depending on your aspirations.

    you’re best bet is to meet a couple of architects initially a to get an idea of all thats involved and likely costs or look on architecture.com for client guides.

    Midnighthour
    Member

    From past experience, write out a very precise list of what you want the architect to do – size, boundaries etc maybe with sketches or pics of houses with similar features.

    I was involved with an extension plane once and what was requested and agreed verbally bore no resemblance to what the guy came up with on the plans. It was only an extension, to reach to the building line, but he drew it way too short and did the roof differently to how we had requested it, then claimed it was what he was asked to do and billed hundreds for what were useless plans, but we had no proof of what we had asked for (oh stupid us!).

    aP
    Member

    Yup, all architects are useless, at least that’s what most of my clients say – but then they come back for more!

    The Beard
    Member

    Architects fees?

    Probably more than you’re willing to pay and less than the architect is worth. 😉

    The hardest bit of an architects job is managing client expectations as they so often don’t fully comprehend what they are undertaking or exactly what is involved. The process will be a fraught one and you’ll curse your architect to high heaven and back but the end result will probably be something you are very pleased with and worth all the fuss.

    architects don’t know as much as they should!

    🙄

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Budgetwise I’d go for £1000/sqm as an absolute minimum to £2000/sqm for high spec. But it could be higher still depending on your aspirations.

    Blimey! I know thats what a lot of houses cost, but I keep seeing sub £1k/m2 houses, that meet some fab standards of efficiency and health…It *can* be done.

    I think that aP is right on agreeing a package / break down the job.

    And again, get an architect you have an affinity with / think you can work with – its tough, and you WILL have a disagreement! I have a client at present on site with a self build and it is just argument after argument – the client thinks X and the architect wants Y, and neither are prepared to comprimise…(I have to say, that architect is a c*ck)

    I have some recomendations around Yorkshire/Notts/Lincolnshire/Manc/Leeds/Sheffield if you like

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    architects don’t know as much as they should!

    Despite not being an architect, and spending half my day ‘educating’ architects, I have to defend them….

    They are expected to do soooo much on a project, have massive variety of skills and knowledge, and do everything from project manage to specify the taps….They are also trained (usually) as an arts degree, compared with the continent where it is a science degree. The Euros build better houses (technically and performance wise), we build better looking and better functioning buildings… I think that architects (like planners and building control) are easy targets in a tough, complex business, and rather than slagging them off we ought to push forward understanding through education and assistance.

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    My experience with architects is not good but limited. The one working for me I gave him detailed sketches of what I wanted and what he produced was very different. My parents had an architect for an extension who put no lights at one end at all and the other end the lights could not be changed without a scaffold tower! Less said about the one supervising the renovation of my building the better! Amongst other stupidities he has tried to spec upvc windows on a listed building.

    My advice would be to make sure the architect you use is someone who you get on with – the personal relationship is the most important thing.

    AS for fees – it depends what you want. Planning application only? Fully spoeced detailed drawings to your design? total design including all building warrant applications and structural survey ( structural engineers are another story – a pal had a structural engineer tell him a wall was a supporting wall when it was not – we ripped the ceiling down to prove to the engineer that there was nothing above it}

    I don’t know if my experience is a fair representation of the profession and I fully accept Matts comments above but go with someone you trust, get everything in writing and check the plans carefully. Learn as much as you can to help you understand.

    The Beard
    Member

    They are also trained (usually) as an arts degree, compared with the continent where it is a science degree. The Euros build better houses (technically and performance wise), we build better looking and better functioning buildings

    I’m not being an arse but that comment is just plain rubbish. We’d build much better buildings in the UK if people were willing to invest more in the built environment and the red tape and regulations were overhauled. The actual construction process is adversarial rather than co-operative and the quality of what gets produced really suffers as a result. where the architect went to school has very little to do with it.

    ciron
    Member

    As others have said, be very clear about what you want. But the most important thing is don’t change your mind to late into the project, especially once it has started on site.

    Sit and read the drawings very very carefully. If you don’t understand, ask them to explain it again or ask someone else. You really wouldn’t believe the number of clients that want to move walls once the foundations are already in.

    I’m not involved in much domestic work at the moment, but do work on 15% of total build cost for all consultant fees – you should get that with the current market as all Architects are suffering so undercutting each other.

    You’ll need to add on a bit extra for Planning, etc, and make sure you have a healthy contingency – you will spend it. On the subject of planning, you can pop into your local planning office and see a duty planner to get informal advice such as likelihood of permission being granted and specific restrictions that might be imposed.

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Subscriber

    Blimey! I know thats what a lot of houses cost, but I keep seeing sub £1k/m2 houses, that meet some fab standards of efficiency and health…It *can* be done.

    show me these houses sir are they self-build?

    Despite not being an architect, and spending half my day ‘educating’ architects, I have to defend them….

    a little patronising but i like your style, whatdo you do?

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Subscriber

    I’m not involved in much domestic work at the moment, but do work on 15% of total build cost for all consultant fees – you should get that with the current market as all Architects are suffering so undercutting each other.

    no we’re not and i should remind you that the addage ‘buy cheap buy twice’ works for professional fees as much as it does for bikes

    ciron
    Member

    The quality of the builder has a lot to do with the poor state of our buildings. On the Continent they work to tollerances of a couple of mm’s, here it’s measured in inches.

    However, as with any trade, there are some good and some bad Architects.

    Premier Icon Potdog
    Subscriber

    If you’re in the Yorkshire area, I can recommend one to you.

    Van Halen
    Member

    ‘push forward understanding through education and assistance.’

    *spits coffee over keyboard* i’ve never known any architects to do this.

    despite dealing with planners regularly they seem to have little grasp of what planners actually require and much less what their clients want.

    my recommendations:

    1) meet as many as you can stomach to discuss requirements. pick the one most up his own arse. it will be very tough call but he’ll probably be the best. the normal ones are generally quite crap. ok if you want a barratt house but bugger all use for anything else. alternativly pick the one that knows the planner personally.

    2) keep it professional and write to confirm everything. twice. in bold type. and keep a copy.

    3) make sure you know what you want before you start. double check this! do you really want curvy walls and a sauna in your extension or has the architectural power of suggestion got to you? the architect will push the boundaries of what you want hard to get what *he* wants.

    4) be prepared to say no. dont give him any slack. he’s theere to flesh out your requiremeents not be on the next grandd designs 9unless you want to be)

    5) fix a budget and tell the architect you have about half of this to spend. only then will you have a fuighting chance to come in on budget. if you let slip the full amount you’ll be met with a quiet smile and a new plan full of exotic bullshit furnushings or an extension made of structural glass.

    i love architects. they keep me on my toes, oh, and employed.

    ciron
    Member

    no we’re not and i should remind you that the addage ‘buy cheap buy twice’ works for professional fees as much as it does for bikes

    Well, we’ve been undercut in several recent tenders by significant amounts, even when we’ve come in well under the guide budget, but that is in different sectors that are supposedly not being hit by the financial situation.

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Subscriber

    thats hard, i’m not saying it doesn’t happen but if everybody went down that route we’d all be screwed like the eighties. the people that suffer are clients because if you buy work you generally don’t apply the same resources and the end result isn’t there. ie you get what you pay for.

    ciron
    Member

    OK, so it was masterplanning work, but we pitched at £95k, budget was £100k, and it was awarded to a pratice that tendered at £60k!

    Understandable when even large practices are laying off 25% or so of their employees.

    The Beard
    Member

    despite dealing with planners regularly they seem to have little grasp of what planners actually require and much less what their clients want.

    Planners are another of the big problems with building in the UK! 😉

    aP
    Member

    I’m still amazed that there’s people charging 15% for a new build house.

    aP
    Member

    We’ve been undercut on a tender by 50% and we thought we were pretty keen. Fortunately this client knows how to analyse prices and ruled them out for not being able to resource the job properly.

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Subscriber

    Ah a subject dear to my heart at the moment. My first genuine question which my architect couldn’t actually answer is – why does the construction cost of my house/renovation bear any connection to the design cost. Thats like my company quoting a IT build design job based on the cost of the hardware – doesn;t really make sense to me. Surely to design X will take Y hours @ Z rate therefore a total is reached. Of course the size of the job would be the ‘scope’ but that shouldn;t be linked to the fact that steel has gone up 25%, concrete has gone up 185 etc – weird.
    We’ve agreed fixed price segments of work but as a business owner I too can use excel and can see that its the %age cost broken down into little bits with a nice NZIAA clause that says “Fixed price means nothing really and we can change that on a whim”.

    Can you sense I am a little frustrated with our architect ?

    And what Van Halen said is all correct. Mine seems to have taken our written, detailed brief (covers sizes, dimensions, materials, construction methods etc – my wife is an engineer) and designed something that they would like to live in. We went back with the X-ref the brief and it was like they had never even read it – so we’re witholding $11K in fees at the moment which is something they are quite shocked about. But in professional terms they have no comeback, the job has not met the specification therefore under their own contract they don;t get paid. Its interesting but they said that they have never been managed by a client like that, they normally just do what they want – their words not mine ! And this is not a small company either. Bizarre.

    Anyway, i’m sure at the end of the day it will be lovely. But FFS write down everything you want in triplicate, document phonecalls with back emails etc, send them signed letters blah blah blah

    joemarshall
    Member

    Architects are weird – they charge a fortune, yet they fail to understand really basic things.

    My favourite bugbear, is toilets. Architects routinely specify the same size for ladies and mens toilets, when absolutely everyone knows that men spend way less time on the loo than women. Like if you go to St Pancras station, there is always a queue of about 100 people running out of the ladies loos, and no queue for the mens. Surely at some point, some architecture academic could have gone to a train station (or a pub, a club, a theatre, a sports stadium, or pretty much anywhere open to the public), worked out that they were all doing this wrong and that maybe it’d make sense to make more cubicles in the ladies than in the gents, and passed this on to their students at some point during the ridiculously long qualification process?

    Joe

    coffeeking
    Member

    I’m always slightly puzzled by the role of an architect and why people use them on things as small as an extension, I’d be genuinely interested to hear. Sure if you’re building a shopping centre their arts side is probably helpful in creating the feel and shape of a building but an extension is just an extension, I know dozens of people (ok, 5 or 6) who have drawn up and built their own extensions without need for an architect. I know what shape I want it, I know how I want it detailing (usually to match the existing house) and I know how I want the interior to look, where I want fittings and fixtures and how I’ll install them. Assuming I can do detailed scale drawings of what I want and I’ve some clue of how things are constructed, where’s the need for one?

    Premier Icon ChrisHeath
    Subscriber

    Architects routinely specify the same size for ladies and mens toilets

    Do they? All the projects I work on must be non-routine then.

    aP
    Member

    I think that you’ll find that sanitary provision in buildings is covered by BS 6465-1:2006, and the other thing you’ll find is that clients won’t pay for more than they’re obliged to provide.

    Anyway might I suggest that the IT people explain this

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I’m not being an arse but that comment is just plain rubbish. We’d build much better buildings in the UK if people were willing to invest more in the built environment and the red tape and regulations were overhauled.

    I disagree on some points – money is NOT the answer (but it helps and we should spend more). We as a business are regularly delivering higher (thermal, comfort and health) performance, for lower cost. How come Germany, Austria, Switzerland (heck, even FRANCE!) can build better performing homes, with higher wages, for less per m2?
    .
    Changing HOW we build is, and the building regs need to be overhauled and enforced. I am talking specifications, materials and systems, labour and contractual arrangements etc.
    .

    The actual construction process is adversarial rather than co-operative and the quality of what gets produced really suffers as a result.

    Totally agree with this – ever seen the Constructasuarus?
    Having been on the German and Swiss sites, you can see how different their approach is – and some of it is simple basic stuff…(Like stop subbying out, and stop choosing the lowest initial quote!)

    where the architect went to school has very little to do with it.

    Its not about which university – its about how we teach architecture across the UK IMO. It is an arts degree, and much of the focus is (rightly) good design – but mainly aesthetically IMHO. We need a move to more science/engineering/ecological(biology) led design – hand in hand with the good aesthetics….

    I DAILY have to assist and educate design teams and architects, as well as M&E, structural, planners about the BASICS of sustainability, thermal performance and response, strategy etc etc. I speak to architects on a daily basis, and assist with design alterations / performance specs / strategy on live projects every week.
    .
    I (fortnightly or so) have a design done to PassivHaus standard land on my desk – and I reckon at least 50% would barely scrape a good pass for thermal performance at basic UK building regs. Now some of this is to do with SAP vs PHPP vs ‘real life’ – but a lot is the basics of thermal performance and detailing – and 80% of the architects have no idea of what I start speaking to them about. It gets worse as you get to ‘normal’ buildings.
    .
    50% of our buildings FAIL uk building regs on thermal performance, let alone other issues. A lot are to do with construction and the tender/build process, but many are poor design, poor/UK ‘type’ construction systems and appalling ‘standard details’ – a lot of which comes down to specification and design.
    .
    I speak regularly on topics like this – last week was housing associations, this week was building control, planners and architects, next week is architects at EcoBuild in London, week after a load more LEA architects etc etc. I and my boss are involved in the CSH review (he chairs it!), and the building regs review, and I and one of our technical guys are also involved in the SAP review, one of our peeps is writing the new water regs/CSH stuff, I assist in a government sponsored research program into alternative construction / insulation systems. We know what we are talking about.

    (oh look, another ‘carbon neutral’ house just landed on the email….)

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    PS, I have same gripe with M&E, structural, planners, building control, builders, subbies etc etc etc

    😆

    Van Halen
    Member

    nice to see you have no gripe with us civil engineers.

    then again you`ve probably just forgotten we exist. as to most of the design teams and clients…

    *sobs*

    planners are generally not the problem (dont get me wrong some of them are so wet they might as well be fish) its the 80yr old commitee members who think the wheel is a modern development that you get problems with.

    then you get places like lewes where you get riots if you propose anything sustainable.

    coffeeking. you are right. for an extension i wouldnt use an architect. for something bigger you need one to agonise over the architrave colour and window details. actually making a development look pretty is a small part of their job and often curtailed by the planning process. (or in brighton copied from the job next door – just look at the station developments. soooo dull!)

    aP
    Member

    Matt – what day are you at Ecobuild?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    All week 8)

    loddrik
    Member

    It is funny, I am a planner and seeing people bitch and moan about what we do, if someone wanted to put up a huge replacemnt dwelling which would loom over their house, I don’t think they would be singing the same tune!!

    As for architects, they don’t know as much as they should, I am surprised by it sometines as they should have a better knowledge of the planning system.

    aP
    Member

    Ok – I’ll pop round and say hello at some point then

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Thats the problem Loddrick – we all expect architects to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING in a complex industry….

    Its a bit like expecting a GP to understand in detail Hematology issues.

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