If you’re thinking about hiring an architect for your home improvement project, the big factors impacting your decision will be cost, complexity and overall hassle. There are different levels of service an architect can provide, so you’ll need to factor them into your budget. So how much does an architect cost in 2021? We’ve put together this price guide to help you work it out, but also advise you on everything their service includes.
- Do your architect research
- Self-build projects
- Get to know your architect
- Types of architectural professionals
- What is RIBA?
- Factors in an architect’s fee
- Set a budget
- How to calculate fees?
- What do architects charge for?
- How much does an architect cost in 2021?
- Architect advice in summary
Do your architect research
Why do you need an architect? That should be your very first question when planning a project. Such professionals can design a whole building, extension or just your home’s interior. They can also just oversee a project, using their expertise to ensure its success. It’s the least you can expect for the price you’ll be paying.
Of course, there will be a variance in cost between the different services. The higher a firm’s experience and status, the higher you can expect their quote to be. You’ll also come across three kinds of rates architects use in the UK, so it’s a good idea to read up on them. Their pros and cons really can impact your budget.
Finally, make a note of what architects’ services have in common – stages, policies, price ranges and so on. Each company seems to offer different packages with their own features and incentives, but they all come down to the same requirements. Understanding them will make it easier to work out who offers the better deal.
It’s one thing to dream of your new home or extension and another to make it a reality. Unless you’re an architect yourself, you’ll need to recruit several smart and trustworthy professionals. Our top tips for finding an architect don’t just involve browsing through the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Your friends and family could point you in the right direction too.
The best tradespeople in this sector are well worth the expense. They can take care of as many parts of the construction process as you need. This can range from hiring contractors to preparing all the paperwork for the planning application. But each extra service pushes your budget higher and the simplest architect plans cost can overwhelm you, especially if they charge a percentage instead of a fixed lump sum.
If you want to avoid tripping up on minor architectural details, start your research with a handy breakdown of the construction process and the types of architectural professionals that are out there.
Get to know your architect
A major factor that affects your project’s progress and outcome is your relationship with the professional you hire. Making a good first impression, communicating effectively and ensuring a smooth collaboration from start to finish is ideal. But it can be a challenge as the project gets more complicated. There are a few things you can do to help make the most of your architect.
First of all, approaching them with a clear and realistic idea of what you want from them and your project makes it easier to plan out a sound strategy to achieve these goals. It’s all about understanding and inspiring each other. However, no matter how well you research the industry, let the architect take the lead, especially if you already know they’re reliable.
Get to know each other. Share your ideas. Invite the architect into your home and make them a cuppa. Define your roles and responsibilities, while creating a detailed outline of your vision – include lists and pictures if necessary.
Keeping the architect focused and happy makes them more capable of directing the process and everyone else involved. Also, a friendly partnership means they’ll be willing to answer questions and accept your input on different matters that concern you.
Types of architectural professionals
Only professionals of the Architects Registration Board are allowed to use the term architect. They have trained for seven long years and their theoretical and practical experience is the best in the field, which also means that they’ll charge accordingly. But they come with insurance, a focus in protecting your interests and the ability to provide full architectural services.
Whether you need someone to create a simple concept design or supervise the whole construction process, you can use Quotatis to find highly skilled architects for your project and check their ARB registration on the ARB website.
Chartered architectural technologists
Chartered architectural technologists’ skills aren’t necessarily of lesser quality to ARB professionals. Five to six years of training with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) ensures they’ll provide the same attention, insurance and range of services.
Something that sets them apart from ARB is their direction as experts, focusing more on the science of architecture instead of the aesthetic design. Their ideas and prices may be more appealing, so they’re definitely an option worth investing in.
Architectural technicians hold less significant qualifications to the institutes above – or none at all. When looking for tradespeople, you’ll want to check the value of their credentials and experience. If they aren’t RIBA-certified or come with a decent reputation at the very least, you may want to avoid them for large projects, or ones where you are looking for a complicated architectural style. However, for small or simple projects, an architectural technician may be able to provide you with the services you need. You’ll want to choose someone who’s trustworthy enough to take on any architectural responsibility necessary.
What is RIBA?
You may come across this term while researching the industry. It stands for the Royal Institute of British Architects. Put simply, it’s a professional membership body whose guidelines to architectural excellence are highly regarded. Many professionals in construction today seek to join RIBA and rely on its unofficial but first-rate plan of work.
Why? The guidelines it provides for every stage are highly detailed and insightful, drawing on the current state and demands of the market. You can trust the conduct and process of RIBA-accredited professionals, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on the construction process.
What does construction involve? The RIBA Plan of Work
Here are the eight stages the RIBA Plan of Work suggests for architects. Be aware that professionals aren’t obligated to follow these guidelines. But knowing the stages should make it easier to spot those who do, a quality that marks them more dependable and considerate than others.
1. Strategic definition
The start of the process is mostly about discussion and planning. Whether you choose an individual architect or a whole firm, you need to sit down with them and have a chat about what you want to do. The professional may also want to survey the construction site and make suggestions to improve your idea.
The aim is to understand the project’s needs, extent of work, timescale and overall cost. Specific things to think about include additional tradespeople, preparing applications to your local building authorities and ensuring all plans made are sound and sustainable.
2. Preparation and brief
This is when your team needs to clearly define its objectives, roles and responsibilities. Assess the outcomes and how you can reach them. To help with this you’ll be gathering existing records about the site. At the same time, consider issues like project size, sustainability, feasibility, risks and budget. The last point is vital as every member of the construction team will be claiming a portion of it.
At the end of this stage you should have a far more detailed initial project brief and strategy, which will make the next step in the process that much more straightforward. Also continue preparing your applications for planning permission and building regulations approval.
3. Concept design
All the thinking, collecting and planning that has gone into the project so far must now go into developing a viable concept design. This doesn’t just contain at outline of the structure and systems, but also costs and other procedures. Alongside this proposal, the architect will put together strategies for sustainability and maintenance, as well as review risk assessments and execution plans.
Your team should have a final project brief in their hands. The more effort that goes into each of these stages, the better your new home or extension is likely to be. It also determines whether your local building authorities will approve your plans.
4. Developed design
This stage is mostly about reviewing and updating everything planned out so far. All strategies, from construction to health and safety, should be in accordance with both the design and building regulations. Another key part of this assessment is ensuring the architect cost and every other expense falls within the project’s budget.
5. Technical design
Your project now needs to get its official stamps of approval. First, the team makes technical upgrades to the plan, detailing all project strategies and how they’ll be managed. For example, a lot more attention goes into the placement of windows, doors, electrical and heating systems. There are also plenty of sustainability issues that need ticking off.
Once everything’s in line and you have all the necessary documents, you’ll need to make your submissions to the local planning authorities. In terms of fees, they could already be stacking up, but you can manage this from the start. When choosing architect packages for your project, go for those offering services you can afford and can’t live without. Come to an agreement – as precise as possible – as to what you’re expecting from the project and how much you’re paying for it. Surprise expenses are common, but can be kept to a minimum.
Following the plan’s approval, building works can begin. But this is also an architect’s defining moment. It involves managing the construction process, from workers to minute details. Basically, they have to visit and supervise the site – how often depends on your budget and their dedication. As long as you’re dealing with a reliable professional, you’ll find this an invaluable stage.
Even a basic inspection means there’s someone around with the qualified expertise to ensure construction is going according to plan and schedule. Troubleshooting is a key part of an architect’s skillset so they can avert problems in a building’s structure and overall effectiveness. They also have to be ready to reject anything that’s not working and find viable solutions.
7. Handover and close out
The project is completed and handed over to you. You and the architect fulfil any final conditions or services agreed upon in the initial contract. These may include a fault period, commonly used in construction work to counter any flaws that emerge in the structure. 12 months after construction is the typical timeframe, but this can be adapted to your circumstances as can the extent of repairs the architect would be responsible for.
8. In use
A new stage to RIBA’s suggested plan of work, it simply points the architect’s attention to the building’s future. The initial project design can contain plans regarding what will happen to the property, for example, after you move out. The architect or firm could take on various duties regarding its evaluation and maintenance. It’s one more feature you may encounter when discussing building plans.
Factors in an architect’s fee
It’s hard to find a precise answer to that critical question: how much does an architect cost? Different factors affect each professional’s value. Despite common features, like construction steps and requirements, they don’t all follow the exact same recipe. So, you’ll need to contact at least three or four appealing ones to get a baseline.
- Professionals’ experience: being in the business for more than five years can up the price considerably
- Project’s size: building a large new house will cost a lot more than a minor extension
- Extent of services: the amount of work required for a project translates into several combined fees
- Complexity: if the construction requires a complicated structure and strategy, expect a quote to match
- Unique requirements: this could include special materials and sustainable methods that are generally more expensive than common options
- Type of property: if you’re building on an empty plot or in a historic or conservation area, additional needs or restrictions may apply that will add to the overall cost
Set a budget
Work out how much money you can realistically spend. Set a budget for your project and try to stick to it. It’s a good idea to make yourself a part of the process, at least in terms of supervising expenses.
As you’ll see in the price guide below, there are a few payment options to choose from, but most architects work on a fee basis. They take a percentage of the total project cost, so, while browsing professionals, try to work out how much you’d be spending on each one. This determines a major part of your budget.
How to calculate fees
An architect will charge one of three ways, or may offer you a choice, depending on your circumstances. The suitability of each payment method is relative to your financial situation and what you estimate the outlook to be.
Charging a percentage of the total cost is the most common route for architects. It’s easier to calculate and a better guarantee that they’ll receive adequate compensation for their work. Expect a quote of around 5-12% of construction costs – the above factors and others determine this figure.
However, you may find this payment method less beneficial. Firstly, until the construction team can determine all the necessary work, it’s very difficult to pinpoint the project’s exact cost. As a result, you could end up underestimating the amount of funds your project needs. Also, you’ll be missing vital financial details for an accurate mortgage application or other official processes.
The second option typically on offer is the hourly rate. While more manageable than the percentage payment, it can turn out just as unstable and unpredictable. Consider reserving this for specific jobs within the construction process. You’ll have more control over each required task’s timeframe.
The best solution for calculating architect cost is to look for professionals offering a fixed lump sum price. You can come to an agreement from the start on the exact amount they’ll be claiming from your overall budget. Always keep in mind, however, that there are other expenses to anticipate from construction works.
Make a note of all the hidden costs of redesigning your home. Larger, more complex projects will have even more costly issues popping up. Developing a listed building or a property in a conservation area, for example, means you’ll need to make an application and pay potential fees to get permission. Other things like structural and heating system alterations, not to mention hiring a skip for the debris, could push your budget to new heights before you realise it.
Another financial matter to look out for is VAT. You won’t have to deal with it from the end of construction costs. However, the range and amount of materials required in developing a building adds up to a lot of expense and hassle on the architect’s side. So, their fees normally include VAT as do those of other tradespeople involved.
What do architects charge for?
The architect’s quote depends on what you need them for. Let’s assume you want to hire someone to take care of the project from start to finish. The cost of each stage, from concept to construction, will reflect the extent of work required.
Remember that professionals don’t always follow the RIBA plan of work to the letter. They can adapt it to their own policies while still maintaining its ethics. This means that the processes and prices of each professional you approach may have differences, either subtle or significant.
For the first half of the development, for example, which is purely made up of plans upon plans, you can expect to receive quotes ranging from £2,000 to £5,000. This would cover many important responsibilities – surveys, drawings, recruitment, preparing official applications and building materials.
From there, the architect cost for home additions or complete constructions can reach another £2,000 or more. Consider extra fees for special requirements, alterations and repairs. Finally, don’t forget the additional pressure of having everything comply with regulations, as well as the carefully constructed plan put together in the first place. Here is a detailed breakdown of all the expenses you can expect.
How much does an architect cost?
As mentioned above, architects usually work on a percentage fee basis, but may offer an hourly rate or fixed lump sum. Every professional is different, but typical costs are as follows:
|Type of architect service||Approx. cost|
|On-site consultation or supervision||£250 per visit|
|Initial design||£1,500 – £6,000|
|Planning submission||£1,500 – £5,000|
|Detailed design||£1,500 – £7,000|
|SAP and EPC||£400+|
|3D renders||£500 – £1,000|
|Overall services||£3,750 – £75,000|
|Type of architect project||Approx. cost|
|New house||7% – 15% of the construction cost|
|Home extension||5.5% – 10% of the construction cost|
|New apartment building||4.2% – 6% of the construction cost|
|Building design||2-5% of the construction cost|
|Interior design||2-5% of the construction cost|
|Residential project management||10% of the construction cost|
|Commercial project management||2-12% of the construction cost|
Architect advice in summary
This is a lot of information to take in. Are you preparing to build or expand your home? Let’s go through a quick checklist of the key points to remember:
- Research the industry, including the ideal code of conduct to expect from reliable professionals
- Get to know the different kinds of architects out there and how to tell them apart
- Understand your project’s requirements
- Set your budget according to these needs and the architectural services you want to get
The best thing to do to get a great deal – or at least one you can manage – is to get a range of quotes. Every architect should be able to detail exactly what’s included in their services, offer you a breakdown of the cost and a suitable payment method for your circumstances.
If you’re looking for an architect, use our service to get up to four quotes from reputable and ARB-registered architects in your area.