In this blog post you will learn every you need about the cost of hiring an architect in the UK.
Whether you’re adding an home extension, converting a house into flats, renovating your commercial property or building new apartments, this article will show you how architects calculate their fees together with the hidden costs of architects and how to negotiate with your architect to get a good deal for your project.
Let’s get started.
How do architects calculate their fees?
In most cases an architect’s fees are calculated based on the final cost of construction; it is a set percentage of this. Percentages can range from 10 percent right up to 25 percent depending on the type and scale of the project.
Of course it can be difficult to accurately develop a definitive cost at the outset of the project so it’s common for architects to operate on an hour rate basis until this is known. In addition to hourly rate work the architect may ask for a retainer upfront to secure their services and enable them to begin work.
It’s also worth remembering that the final cost of construction is not the total project cost; it is exclusive of the soft costs like fees and testing. The soft costs generally come to around 25 percent of the hard costs.
Some architects will offer to work on a lump sum basis where a one off fee is agreed. This is often only an option for smaller, discrete projects with limited scope and a level of simplicity. Just be aware that if the scope or scale of the project changes your architect may ask for additional money to complete their works.
Architect fees for house extensions
The thing with residential extensions is that they are often very resource –intensive projects because working with and altering existing structures and fabric comes with great complexity. There are precious few opportunities with regard to repetition and no economies of scale to speak of and often there is the refurbishment of existing space thrown in to the mix.
Simple extensions may attract a lump sum fee, but in general the fee will be based on cost of construction; here’s a rough guide of what to expect:
• 14% based on £100k
• 13% based on £200k
• 12% based on £500k
• 11.5% based on £1m
Architect fees for residential refurbishments
Residential refurbishment projects are governed by the same rules as residential extensions in terms of issues, economies of scale and fees. Expect to pay similar percentages to those above.
Architect fees for self builds
Self builds are the type of project that lives or dies by the quality of the relationship that the client has with their architect. As a client you need to demonstrate that you are organised and professional; this way you’ll be showing your architect that you are serious and they’ll be more likely to go the extra mile for you.
For a self-build project you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of 8% of the cost of construction and it’s I important that you agree a fixed rate with your architect at the outset of your project. That way you won’t end up with any nasty surprises at the end of the project.
Architect fees for housing developments
For an architect, a new build home on a new or vacant plot of land is one of the simplest pieces of work they can be asked to carry out. As such this type of work attracts the lowest percentage fees; fees are generally calculated on a cost of construction basis. As a rough guide you might expect to pay the following for a new build home:
• 9.5% based on £100k
• 8.5% based on £200k
• 8% based on £500k
• 7.5% based on £1m
So markedly different from the fees associated with extensions that we talked about earlier.
Architect fees for commercial extensions
Commercial extensions can be tricky propositions as you are dealing with existing structures and fabric and your work has to dovetail aesthetically as well as practically. As such fees for commercial extensions tend to be a little higher than standard commercial new builds and you’d be looking at a percentage of construction cost of around 8% to 15% fee-wise.
Architect fees for commercial refurbishments
From a percentage of construction cost perspective, commercial refurbishments generally attract a fee of between 8% and 12% which reflects the fact that you’re working with an existing building, but there is perhaps less work to do from a structural perspective and more on the aesthetic front.
Architect fees for commercial new builds
In the main, new build commercial projects attract fees based on a percentage of construction cost and the percentages themselves range from 5% to 15%. Typically the lower end of this scale is more usual, particularly as the overall cost of the build increases.
Hidden costs of architects
No architect worth their alt should be hiding anything in the way of fees from a client; being upfront and transparent is certainly the way to go if you want to build a sustainable, respectable business. That said your architect ca help you with hidden costs enabling you to navigate the tricky waters of pricing a job up accurately.
Here are ten of the most common hidden costs that you probably haven’t thought of:
• Planning permission. Not a good one to fall foul of.
• Other surveys such as acoustic or noise.
• Party wall awards.
• Structural alterations. Definite a cost to avoid if possible!
• Building control.
• Listed building and conservation area consent. This can be the trickiest part of any build.
• Builders’ Preliminaries. This will be of particular interest if you are renovating an older property.
• Improvements to the garden.
• Fixtures and finishing’s (this one can run away from you if you are not careful).
• Your contingency (yes you should always have one).
How to negotiate architect fees
We’re assuming that all of your bidding practices have interpreted the scale and scope of the work correctly and are on an even keel with each other. You should not try to reduce the time spent on the project as a way of saving money; yes they should be efficient with their time, but you don’t want them to be rushed to the detriment of quality.
So if you’re architect has their hours right for the job, where can you negotiate? Well, you need to focus on the profit margin added to each man hour and the only way to know what this is, is to ask and the way to do this is to ask for a breakdown of the hourly rate; an itemised cost.
Remember that every firm has overheads and things like insurance to pay for and often they are fixed and they can’t come down. What you don’t want to do is push too hard and end up reducing the cost, but also the quality of work or dedication levels of your architect.
Some firms will simply tell you that it is against their policies to reveal a breakdown of costs, whereas others are more than happy to operate on a fully open book basis.
The benefits of using architects near you
It’s so important that you have a good relationship with your architect; you need a level of trust and assurance and you need to understand exactly where you are both coming from. This is crucial, but there are further benefits associated with choosing an Architect who is local.
Firstly they can more readily visit the site itself throughout the life of the project. They can get a better feel for the design and also offer insight to help the contractors out with the build. If you have a good, solid shared vision your architect is more likely to fully bring it to life if they can get out on site regularly and at key junctures in the project.
Secondly a local architect is far more likely to understand all of the local planning regulations and the nuances of the local system and the players involved in it. They will know the local planning authority and the people who work there and understand the key guidelines.
Thirdly, local architects will know local tradespeople. And more importantly they will know which one to use and which ones to avoid like the plague. Finding quality, reliable tradespeople to carry out the work can be a painful and time consuming process if you aren’t familiar with the local area so why take the chance with your project. The dame principles ring true with other contributors other than tradespeople of course; a local architect will know structural engineers, surveyors and estate agents too and they can therefore keep your project on the straight and narrow for you.
Lastly, the odds are that you’ll know someone who has worked with a local architect before. Referrals and recommendations from friends and family are powerful and will help you to entrust this important project to the right person. Take the first step and find a local architect near you now and learn how to design a Scandinavian home.