210323 – Why Do Architects Charge More Than Non-architects for design?

KR.eativ: Architects Ltd Kettering Architect

An often asked question that is very easy to answer. We are the only profession qualified in the truly architectural design of buildings. There are, of course, other chartered professions involved in the design of buildings: structural engineers (IStructE), building services engineers (CIBSE), building surveyors (RICS), building engineers (CABE), and technologists (CIAT). All of whom have their specialist roles within building design. However none of them have any training in architecture to any depth beyond that of an “A” level. There are others offering ‘architectural services’, including ‘architectural designers’ who have no qualifications whatsoever.

Therefore the cost of an architect should be considered in conjunction with the value that the particular practice is able to add to a project in terms of the architecture and design team management/leadership. A recent report for a London estate agent demonstrated that an architect designed building could easily be worth more than 10% than one designed by a non-architect when completed. That clearly demonstrates that, over and above the savings we can make during the design process, we actually cost less than nothing at the end of the day as 10% of the final value is a lot less than 10% of the construction cost.

What is the difference between designing buildings and designing architecture I hear you ask? Architecture has been defined historically as possessing, to a high standard, “firmitatis, utilitatis, venustatis” – that is, stability, utility, beauty. A more up to date translation being that architecture has a high and equal standard of buildability, functionality, sustainability and beauty (in massing, volume, space, lighting, colour and materials etc). Those without the training very rarely meet the high standards of the ARB – Architects Registration Board – (the government body that ensures architects are qualified and registered) and the RIBA – Royal Institute of British Architects – our professional body. Both have codes of professional conduct we are required to meet and we can be struck off the register if we do not abide by them. We can continue to offer a service to the public as architectural designers perfectly legally!

Whilst KR.eativ: Architects Ltd fees will vary according to the level of service required, the complexity of the project (homes for private clients being the most complex and warehouses the least) and the budget a good starting point would be 10% for a full service. More if an historic building or other services required (interior design or CDM Principal Designer etc), less if a warehouse or higher construction cost.