Fees charged by Architects vary very significantly, commonly quoted as being between 5 and 12% of the build cost , but because fees are entirely dependent on the nature of the project and the circumstances of the appointment, these percentages are only of general help. Each project needs to be looked at specifically, before a more precise fee can be determined. Generally speaking large new build projects attract much lower percentage fees than small works to existing buildings, commercial work attracts lower fees than private residential work, works to historic or listed buildings attract higher fees still and so on.
1 Architects use the RIBA Fee Calculator, which is designed to assist the smaller practice in preparing fee proposals that help their clients to better understand the process and professionalism involved in the Architects’ service. This aims to ensure Architects and practices charge appropriately for their services and are able to properly serve their clients needs.
Fees will vary based on:
- The type of building required.
- The size of building required.
- The complexity of the building required.
- The quality of the building required.
- The location of the project.
- The amount of bespoke design required.
- The level of service required (from basic planning drawings, through to a full design service, site inspection and post occupancy evaluation).
- The amount of information available (about the nature of the project required, the project brief, the feasibility of the project, the site conditions and so on).
Attempting to save money by driving fees down can be a big mistake. Fees represent a small part of the whole-life costs of a project, but poor design can have a long lasting and expensive impact.
This is sometimes demonstrated by reference to the relative costs of a typical project over its whole lifetime:
- 0.1 to 0.15 for design costs
- 1 for construction costs.
- 5 for maintenance and building operating costs during the lifetime of the building.
- 200 for the cost of operating the business during the lifetime of the building.
These relative values are obviously wildly generalised and will vary significantly from project to project, but the clear point is that whilst fees may seem significant at the point of payment, they are in reality a tiny part of the whole-life cost of your building, but have a massive effect on the quality.
Traditionally there are 3 standard ways an Architect may charge:
- A percentage of the build cost. This requires that an approximate build cost can be estimated (so that an appropriate percentage can be calculated) and that the scope and nature of the services required from the architect are known.
- Lump sum fee. This is popular for home owners and small clients as it gives certainty about the total cost at the outset. Lump sum fees are appropriate where the scope of work required is well known when the appointment is made. If the nature of the appointment or of the project varies beyond agreed limits, then the fee may need to be re-negotiated.
- Hourly rate. This is generally reserved for work where it is difficult to define the scope of services required or the nature of the project when the appointment is made. It is important in this case that fees are capped to a maximum that can be charged without prior agreement and that detailed records of hours worked are kept.
All three methods will generally bring the Architect to a similar position. This is because there is a relationship between the type of the project, its build cost and the amount of hours required. Ultimately, the fee quoted is likely to come down to how many hours the job will take multiplied by a charge out rate.
NB when appointing an Architect:
Always check the Architects Registration Board (ARB) register to make sure they are a registered Architect (if they are not, they cannot offer their services as an Architect).
Check that the Architect has adequate professional indemnity insurance.
In our early discussions with clients we are usually able to tell them what other consultants will be required. Almost always there will be for example some input needed from a Structural Engineer at the Building Warrant stage, in order to satisfy the local authority that the proposed structure is sound. On larger or more complex projects we may require the appointment of a Cost Consultant (Quantity Surveyor). In general one or more of the following consultants will be used from time-to-time on various projects:
- Land Surveyor
- Structural Engineer
- Electrical and Mechanical Engineer
- Landscape Architect
- Hydrologist or Drainage Specialist
- Quantity Surveyor
- Energy Efficiency Consultant
For all these consultants any fee will be agreed with us at the outset, so that the client is at all times aware of the expenditure requirements.