Simple Guide to Understanding Architect's Fees
Simple Guide To Understanding Architect's Fees
Choosing an architect for a building project is a very important decision to take and often this comes down to what they are going to charge you and who will give you the best value for money. You will be undertaking a large financial investment in your project whether it be building an extension or a new home, so it is important to choose the right designer. In comparison, if you received three builder’s quotations for the project and one was considerably lower than the other two – would you accept the lowest or would you question which part of the work may have been left out or not adequately resourced? The same applies to the start of a project, which can be even more important, as getting the design right at the beginning can save significant time and money later on – this is the value an architect can bring to a project.
You may have whittled it down to a few architects/designers from what they have on their website, local jobs you have seen that they have designed or recommendations from friends etc. The next stage is to choose between your preferred architects by asking for quotes or ‘fee proposals’. In this Simple Guide, we will take you through what you should expect in a fee proposal, what should be included and how you can compare like for like.
Throughout this guide, we use the term ‘architect’ to refer to your chosen designer which can be substituted by their title if different
Initial Site Visit
In most cases, before an architect can provide an accurate fee proposal, a visit to site will be necessary. At this stage, you should give as much information as you can about your expectations and requirements and any issues you may be aware of on the site. The more information you give to each architect, the better able they will be to price your job accurately. This time is usually part of a ‘no obligation’ service offered by an architect with no charges, but you may want to check to be sure.
Your architect will ask what your budget will be for the project and your expected timeframes. This is so that the architect can advise you as to whether your expectations can be realistically met.
The architect will then go away and assess the information received at the visit. They may need to do a little research on the site and area surrounding it. This allows them to assess any constraints which will need to be dealt with before the fee proposal can be calculated, e.g. are there mature trees on site that are protected and therefore could impact on the design?
The Fee Proposal
Once your architect has gathered and appraised this information, they will put together a fee proposal. This will be a charge for the time that they are going to spend on your project. It is tempting when receiving several fee proposals to skim to the bottom of the document and just read the final figure, but it is vital that you read and understand each element that is being charged for so you can compare like for like. One quote may seem considerably cheaper but may have many costs not included which may be charged as extras further on down the line. Equally, a more expensive quote may cover everything and therefore may be much better value in the long-term.
The following are elements that you may expect in a fee quote:
Having read through your fee proposals, if there is anything that you do not understand fully, then please ask the architect to clarify these items for you. Also, at this stage, if you feel that there is something you don’t need in the quote, then you can discuss with the architect and the fee proposal may be altered accordingly.
When comparing fee quotes from different architects, make a checklist to make sure that each document is quoting for the same services and do ask if you think that anything has been left out. Other things to consider are whether the architect has relevant experience and last but by no means least, whether you feel comfortable entering into a professional appointment with your chosen architect.
The following is a downloadable checklist which you can print out to compare each fee proposal that you receive. Fee proposals are laid out in a number of different ways and some of the information may not be included in all of them. This checklist can help you to see if you need to contact the architect to ask for any missing information or to clarify the information given so that you can be sure you are comparing like for like.