Fees and Terms
Options and Factors to Consider
Getting buildings designed and built is a complex and often a slow process, even for quite small projects. Much of my work goes on in the background
and often others don't see it happening. If you have never embarked on a building project before, many elements will be unfamiliar to you as a client; it is worth giving a guide to the way I
It is also worth pointing out that any development or construction project requires time and effort from the person paying for it. As a portion of my work is residential, the article below is a useful, lighthearted, illustration of matters which arise!
Fees and Terms
Different methods of calculating fees may be used for different stages in a project and this will be agreed and set out in my written fee proposal,
if this is possible. In almost all circumstances, I will provide you with a written fee proposal, and I will ensure you are happy with it before I charge you for any work. I will outline the
scope of my agreed role, and the fee associated with each task, I will highlight who should be responsible for what, and whether there are any constraints or limitations on these
responsibilities. I will put any later agreed variations in writing also.
I have 30 years experience of working as an architect. If I can complete a task in 30 minutes it is because I have
spent 30 years learning how to do that task in 30 minutes. So, in line with the well know phrase: if you appoint me, you are appointing me for the years not the
Works can be suspended for many reasons and I will be flexible around such events, but both parties have the right to terminate the agreement at any
time, and fees will be calculated according to what is already completed. Under reasonable circumstances I will return any papers, plans or
property you have given me if you are legally entitled to them. I will handle issues promptly and I carry appropriate professional
indemnity insurance for the projects I accept, in line with the Architects' Registration Board Code of Conduct.
There are three main ways in which I calculate fees for my work.
Time based fees
Fixed fees for specified works
Percentage of the building costs
Time based fees
You might need my services for just a small part of your project. One method for charging fees is on a time incurred basis. As
in the case of other professionals, I charge for the time that is expended on any task or series of tasks associated with the project. Where it is practical and possible I provide estimates of
the amount of time I expect to incur on any of these tasks. Invoices that are time based are submitted to clients with an account of how the time has been spent. My time based charge-out rates
may vary from time to time, and also may vary due to the complexity and significance of the work undertaken. As a small practice, my hourly rate takes into account the fact that I do many jobs
and do them relatively slowly. My charge-out rate is often around £50 per hour.
Fixed fees for specified works
Where a project is clear and obvious, and the scope of the works is defined, I am happy to fix my fees for
various small stages within that project. If this method can apply to your project, I will always agree these fee stages with you in writing before I do any of the works.
Percentage of the building costs
Take a look at the work stages under the page "appointing me". If you need my services for all or most of these stages, one method of calculating fees is to charge them as a percentage of the ‘contract value’. Each project is stand-alone, is individually considered and given a unique fee proposal. I will quote different percentage rates for different types of work and different contract values but, as an approximate guide, my fees tend to lie between 9% and 15% of the net building costs (what I refer to as the ‘contract value’). Under this agreement, overall fees are broken down into stages (or parts of stages) and are invoiced on a monthly basis or at the end of individual stages. Below is a rough guide to these fees.
Services and provisions normally outside fee proposals
There are some types of work on a building project that are almost always in addition to the overall percentage-based fee or in addition to pre-agreed fixed fees. These include:
• Measured surveys, building or topographical.
• Information for a planning application submission which is not a statutory requirement *
• Submitting a planning appeal following a planning refusal.
• Party wall negotiations with adjoining owners.
• Liaison with the public utilities companies on a client’s behalf.
• Complete re-designs, if there is an entire change of mind/heart some way into the design process
* includes 3D images, 3D models, street scene images including adjoining buildings with full rendering, and advanced computer models (as opposed to the simpler photo-montages, 3D working models and 2D scale images, or hand drawn sketches which I produce anyway).
Services and provisions often outside fee proposals (but often included at my discretion where they are simple matters)
• Complex interior design specifications (colour schemes, selection of specified finishes, furnishings etc).
• Design of purpose-made built-in furniture – desk layouts, reception areas, wardrobes, bookcases, storage units etc.
• Freestanding furniture items.
• Specialist lighting design.
• Specialist research into specific and bespoke items within a building, especially if requiring consultant expertise.
Services and provisions not included in fee proposals
When drawn information is issued to a client, it is normally in a format which can be easily viewed by that client. This could be paper prints or electronic PDF files. CAD files are not normally issued directly to a client as a routine information issue; special agreements can be made for transfer of CAD files under certain circumstances.
When drawn information is issued to an appointed consultant it can be issued as a PDF or, occasionally, as a printed copy, but it can also be issued as a CAD file (either in the format of my software or as a DWG CAD transfer file) where this would be beneficial to the project and the project team.
my small print
I am not registered for VAT and do not anticipate any change in this situation; but if, during the course of any appointment I should become VAT registered, then VAT will be charged on my fees. VAT is currently chargeable on the net value of any expenses.
My fees generally include all normal administration costs and reasonable client and site visits and travelling expenses to and from such meetings.
I do not charge for small numbers of photocopies or plan prints for my use and yours. However, I charge for more major expenses such as large amounts of photocopying for Planning and Building Regulations applications (where applicable), and printing of drawings issued to Contractors, consultants, sub-contractors etc., including copies to you where they form record sets for you to keep. These are always outlined on a drawing issue list accompanying the issue.
I make separate additional charges, by prior agreement, for contract documents, Ordnance Survey location plans, large plan prints issued for construction or Building Regulations and any special travelling costs (long-distance visits to manufacturers etc), as well as any specialist presentation material, such as 3d computer modelling, perspective illustrations or models.
All fees are requested within 14 days of the date of the invoice.
I may ask you, after the invoice has been issued, to confirm that you believe it is correct, even before it is due.
If an invoice remains outstanding after 14 days, I will issue a 1st reminder.
After a further 14 days I will issue a 2nd reminder.
After a further 14 days (i.e. 6 weeks after the issue of the original invoice) I do believe that you have had ample time and notice in order to settle, so I will look into making a County Court claim if the amount isn't settled in the following 7 days.
I will make this clear to you.
when fees are subject to review
Hoping that the matters outlined below never arise, should we find ourselves in such circumstances, additional fees are probably best based on an agreed hourly rate or fixed fee basis:-
• If there is a material change to the design (and I mean a substantial move away from the outline brief in my initial fee proposal) following drawings submitted for planning approval, or at any other stage following.
• If exceptional discussions and negotiations are required in order to support the planning application and/or additional information is requested by the planning authority in excess of the statutory requirements (an example of this would be perspective sketches or models, or detailed coloured rendering of drawings).
• If I am preparing tender information: If you decide to go to tender on more than one occasion. This increases workload as the tender package is substantial and repeat issues require alterations because of property market changes, or changes in the type of Contractors pricing, for example.
• If additional works are required as a result of a Contractor going into liquidation, or failing to proceed in the correct manner.
• If additional work is required in connection with a planning appeal.
• If I am administering a contract: if additional work is required in connection with dispute resolution regarding the Contract or other consultants.
I get asked 'how much will this cost?' so many times. The cost answer is never straightforward; sometimes, there isn't an immediate answer. The information below was initially compiled in the first half of 2017, and then updated in 2023, post-COVID, and post-Brexit, so please judge any inflationary adjustment, whenever you read this. However, with two key building types in mind, I've put together two short summaries:
A. Work which involves simple alterations or additions to existing residential buildings
B. Work which involves the new-build construction of low-energy-in-use dwellings.
A. Work for simple alterations or additions to existing residential buildings
How Much Will a Small Extension Cost?
There are many factors involved but this is a very basic breakdown of average prices:-
For every usable square metre, allow anywhere from £2,000 for basic construction - single storey, for example - to £4,000 and upwards for higher specification. When considering more than one floor, the area of each floor should be counted. Smaller extensions of 15-20 square metres will have higher costs per square metre. Clay, peat, nearby trees and sloping ground will increase groundwork costs. 50% of the budget will be the construction of the building envelope. 50% will cover the interior.
Now consider what you'd like to put inside.
For a kitchen, include at least £5,000. For a bathroom or a shower room, allow around £5,000 to £10,000. For floor finishes, usually not included in the main build costs, and for anything 'permanently' fitted (hardwood, tiles, stone, etc), you will need to allow, at least, £100 per square metre for the materials and labour combined. For wide glazed openings and/or extended roof lighting: add £2,000 for every running metre. Heating: consider whether the existing system can be extended into your new space; the situation may involve a new boiler and could add around £3,000-5,000 in addition to under floor heating or new radiator installations in your new spaces.
Professional Fees for small domestic projects
Of course, I will quote for each project individually. However, it's likely that you will need to budget for my fees alongside the fees of others. Combined fees (including those to local authorities) of between £4,000 and £6,000 are to be expected for small-project planning stage works; and at least around £3,000 to £7,000 for post-planning costing and or construction information, depending on what you need, which may well include the services of a structural engineer in addition - all depending on the type of project.
Planning application fees are published on line by all local authorities. It's worth knowing that planning approvals may also involve tree or landscape reports, flood risk assessments, ecology reports, and archaeological reports. A building report may also be required if your building is listed. Fees for each of these types of reports are often between £1000 and £1500.
If you employ someone like me to give specification and drawing information to a contractor for costing, then to administer a formal contract between you and him, you would need to allow an additional percentage of the build cost. You will also need to allow for Building Regulations fees. Each local authority has its own table of fees or you can use a private building control firm. The size of the alterations affects the fee you pay. If your project involves a Party Wall and your neighbours formally consent to the work, you won't need a party wall surveyor. However, if they dissent to the work then you need to consider the appointment of a party wall surveyor.
B. Work for new-build construction of low-energy-in-use dwellings.
How Much will this Cost?
There are a great many factors involved and this is a very basic breakdown:-
For every usable square metre, allow anywhere from £2,500 to £3,500 for a basic specification. Difficult sites will increase groundwork costs and higher specifications will increase the overall cost per square metre. 50% of the budget will be the construction of the building envelope. 50% will cover the interior and services.
Inside the envelope.
Low-energy-in-use buildings, or Passivhaus buildings, need to have more insulation and need to be more airtight and as a consequence need to be properly
(mechanically) ventilated and have draught-free windows and doors. This comes with additional costs, not only in materials, but in the installation and in the design of the correct systems.
Expect to employ the services of additional consultants to ensure a standard is correctly achieved. Passivhaus calculations/certifications come with specific checks as a building is designed and
during its construction. Some of these checks are also really useful for buildings which are only required to be 'towards passivhaus standard', built to 'passiv principles', or just houses with low heating bills!
Professional Fees relevant to this type of project
I will quote for each project individually, but, at the planning stage, my services and the advice of others is often required
whether the proposed building is intended to be energy efficient or not. Therefore, tree or landscape reports, flood risk assessments, drainage strategies, ecology reports, archaeological
reports, historic impact assessments, party wall surveyors, may all be required, regardless of the energy efficiency of the
However, other specialist consultant services for low energy buildings are required post-planning to ensure that the building performs as intended. Quotations for such services can be obtained at an early stage in the project.