How Do Architects Charge Fees?
If you’re planning an extension or new house, one of the things you’ll think about is architects fees. You might have some questions, such as whether you will need an architect for all stages of your project, and what their fee includes.
Most architects split their fees down in to each main part (stage) of a project. This helps you get a clear picture of what you are getting for each bit of the fee. It also means that you can see clearly what you have to pay to get to each stage of the project, which is helpful if you do not go through all of the stages.
TIP: If you have fee proposal from an architect that is a single figure or is hard to understand, ask them to split it in to these stages (they are based on the RIBA Plan of Work so all architects will understand this); and to explain exactly what you will get for the fee at each stage.
Fee Breakdown By Project Stage
The following graph shows a typical breakdown of architects fees by stage. To get up to Planning Approval (Stage 3) should be around 1/3 of the overall fee. Technical Design and Building Regulations (Stage 4) will also be around 1/3 of the fee. While the final 1/3 of the fee is for the Construction Stage to Completion.
How Much Are Architects Fees?
Architects fees will depend on the work involved in the project. Some practices are more expensive than others, and there is no universal fee level. But as an approximate rule of thumb it might be useful to expect total architects fees to be around 8 – 15 % of the overall cost of the project.
TIP: The fee amount is affected by the complexity and scope of the work involved in the project. So try to be as clear as possible in agreeing your brief for the project, and this will help to keep the fee to a minimum.
Typical Architects Fees For A £100,000 Extension
This would normally be split in to the project stages as explained above. So, for a £100,000 extension you could expect architects fees of £2,500 – £5,000 to get to Stage 3 (Planning Approval), and around the same again for Technical Design (Stage 4) and Construction (Stages 5) as shown in the chart below.
- 1 Brief & Survey (£400 - £750)
- 2 Concept Design (£800 - £1,500)
- 3 Planning Design (£1,200 - £2,250)
- 4 Technical Design (£2,400 - £4,500)
- 5 Construction (£2,800 - £5,250)
- 6 Completion (£400 - £750)
How Are Architects Fees Calculated?
When an architect receives a new enquiry they will need to calculate the fees to charge on the project, and send this to their client as a written fee proposal.
So, if you are planning an extension or new house, then before you receive your Fee Proposal, you might find it useful to know how your architects fees will be calculated, and what factors will affect how much the fees are.
You might find that architects fees are expressed as either a percentage, a fixed cost, or as time charges. Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Usually architects fees for an extension or new house are given as Fixed Costs or a Percentage (or a combination of the two). It is more unusual for fees to be set as a time charge as standard on a domestic project.
Fees for each stage can be set as a percentage of the construction cost. This can be useful when the scale of the work is still a bit unknown; as the fees can go up and down with the amount of work involved.
Fees can be fixed at set amounts for each stage of the project. This is great as you will know exactly what you will need to pay and when; but may not be possible if the scope of the project is not yet clear.
Fees that are charged on a time basis are calculated from records of time spent on the project, and the architect’s agreed hourly rate. This can be combined with a cap on the overall amount at an agreed level.
TIP: Many clients value the reassurance of Fixed Fees during the design stages; combined with Percentage Fees during the construction stages so that the fee always accurately reflects the work involved. This often gives the best possible value for money.
Competitive vs Cheap
Most clients want competitive fees that are good value for money, for a quality service from a professional architect. It is not such a good idea to look for very cheap fees. An extension or new house is a big investment that can affect you for years. Low quality cheap fees that are sometimes offered by unregistered designers are full of risk that could end up costing more in the long term.
Fees of more than 15% can be considered expensive. Try to understand why they are this high.
Fees of 8 – 15% can be considered competitive, and are about right for most projects.
Fees of less than 8% may be too cheap. Beware of this, and check the table below.
TIP: The table below shows some common differences between competitive and cheap architectural fees. This can also be used as a bit of a checklist to make sure that all of these are included in whatever fee proposal you end up accepting.
Recap – How To Agree Architects Fees
So, just follow these keys steps and you won’t go too far wrong. You should be able to agree reasonable architects fees that will give you good value and a great service.
- Be As Clear As You Can With Your Brief For The Project
Being clear about the scope will help to keep architects fees down
- Get Fee Proposals Split In To The 6 Main Work Stages
So that you know what you get, and when you will pay for each part
- Expect The Total Fee To Be Around 8-15% Of Your Project Budget
More would be expensive, but less could be too cheap – check the table above
- Check That The Fee Is Split Reasonably For Each Stage
Expect around 1/3 of the fee for Planning, 1/3 for Building Regs, and 1/3 for Construction
- Try To Agree Fixed Fees Up To Planning And Then Percentage Fees
This usually gives the best balance between cost certainty, and value for money.