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200212 – Architects’ Services

If you’re looking for an architect’s services for an extension, new building or renovation project you have definitely come to the right website. As a chartered architect myself, I created KR.eativ: Architects Ltd to help businesses and homeowners solve their property problems architecturally. Whether the choice between moving and improving or the design of a new building or the restoration/renovation of an existing one.

It’s probably helpful to you to understand a little bit about what you can expect from my profession:

  • What’s the role of an architect?
  • What are architect’s services typically?
  • How do architects charge for their services?
  • How much does an architect charge for a planning application?
  • What can I expect during the initial consultation with an architect?
  • Is the initial meeting with an architect free?

WHAT’S THE ROLE OF AN ARCHITECT?

In the context of a project for either a business or homeowner, our role is to work with you to design, plan and deliver your project to meet your requirements and budget. Commonly, this also means helping you define what your brief and budget are in the first instance.

WHAT ARE ARCHITECT’S SERVICES TYPICALLY?

Let’s use an example of a £60K extension. An architect would usually be employed to do the following work, which falls roughly into three phases and is usually split up (as is their fee) like this: 

PHASE 1: OUTLINE DESIGN (INCLUDING PLANNING APPLICATION)

  • Discuss and then develop the brief. This makes sure targets are realistic and expectations align.
  • Produce a simple feasibility study. This will include what they foresee in terms of hurdles in the project. They will then make suggestions to gather further information or meet statutory obligations, e.g. you might need a Party Wall Award; a drainage or soil survey; structural appraisal; or they might recommend pre-planning advice from the local authority.
  • Produce ‘existing’ drawings. For house extensions and renovations it is common for the architect to carry out the measured survey and produce the existing drawings. This is often more cost effective than hiring a separate survey company, although for more complicated projects the architect might request this.
  • Produce a concept design. This usually starts with sketches for further discussion with you / seeking your approval.
  • During this stage we can keep you up to date with progress with a 3D PDF that you can look around  or for an additional fee a £D model that you can walk around using VR. 
  • Prepare drawings and documents for the planning application and make the submission to the local council.

The architect’s services might stop at this point. You would then instead work directly with a builder (contractor) to develop the design and specify materials, finishes and fittings. However, in the case of our 60k rear extension, from experience I have found that the cost effective solution is to take the ‘traditional’ route and continue with their architect. 

PHASE 2: DETAILED DESIGN AND ‘TENDER’ (GETTING QUOTES AND CHOOSING BUILDER)

  • We then prepares drawings, schedules and a specification for construction. Around this point they would also submit plans to building control (or advise you on alternative routes to obtaining building control approval).
  • All construction information then bundled up and given to your chosen builders for their quotations and timescales.
  • If a builder’s quote is acceptable, you will sign a contract and building work can start.

This is the next stage that the architect’s services might cease. The hefty design work element is over now so this next phase represents a smaller proportion of their overall fee. However, it can really pay off having us continue to be involved during construction even for a small house extension, especially if you’ve never done a building project before.

PHASE 3: CONSTRUCTION PHASE

  • We will administer the contract with the builder. We will make site inspection visits at certain important stages in the build to check work is done on time and in line with the drawings/specification.
  • We will deal with any queries from the contractor. Also, if you change your mind on any elements of the design, your architect will manage this process and make cost/time adjustments with the contractor for your approval.
  • Once certain phases are completed to their satisfaction, KR.eativ: Architects will issue a certificate prompting you to pay a portion of the build cost to the builder.
  • At the end of the job we will also check that all work is satisfactory and issue a ‘practical completion’ certificate. 95% of the total sum (typically) will be paid to the builder.
  • Following this a six month ‘rectification’ period begins during which we can instruct the builder to come back to fix any relevant outstanding issues. The final certificate is issued after this and the balance is paid.

HOW DO WE CHARGE FOR OUR SERVICES?

It will always be possible to get providers of 'architectural services' to offer a cheaper service, but then they are not architects (which is why they use the term 'architectural services' as they cannot legally offer an architect's service) or even chartered. A recent report carried out for The Modern House agency showed that a well designed building by an architect can add more value to a project than the cost of using one. Which means we can cost less than nothing in the longer term 🙂

Let’s take the example of our £60k extension again. For many projects like this, we will usually charge a fee ‘capped’ at a figure based on no unforeseen circumstances arising.

We will look at all the aspects of the project and calculate how much of their time will be needed and come back to you with our fee. As a very rough guideline, architect’s fees for a private house project could be anywhere in the region of 5-15% (allowing for the variance between simple and larger projects through to smaller more complex ones) of the overall project budget. The following figures are taken from an independent annual fee survey, showing average fees relative to the whole project budget for a new building on a ‘green field’ site.

So for a £60K extension this would be around 10% = £6,000 in architects’ fees for ‘full services’. 

HOW MUCH DO WE CHARGE FOR A PLANNING APPLICATION?

If you decide that you only require the architect up to the planning phase, their fee would be roughly 40% (see pie chart above) of the £6,000. So planning drawings would be in the region of £2,400 in architects’ fees.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH KR.EATIV: ARCHITECTS?

We recommend that you meet us in person at the address of the project. We can give you our initial thoughts and advice. This should give you a better understanding of what you want but also what may be involved (such as a planning application).

  • It’s a chance to see how you get on. It’s important that you and your architect see eye to eye. The better you understand and trust each other the more likely you are to feel satisfied at the end of it. Every project is unique and so are we, so it’s important that we are the right fit.
  • We will explain how they work and charge for a quotation (also commonly called a ‘fee proposal’). If you would like to have a detailed design consultation at your next meeting, you can ask them to provide a quote for this, in addition to their fees for full services.
  • For us, it is an opportunity to meet you and understand your needs.
  • You should have a free, detailed, say 20 minutes, conversation on the phone before we arrange a meeting.

IS THE INITIAL MEETING WITH KR.EATIV: ARCHITECTS FREE OF CHARGE?

Not if you want us to provide you with any useful design guidance specific to your project. You should never expect any free design work as part of a meeting. For local meetings we charge a nominal flat fee for a meeting lasting about an hour or so.

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