In a nutshell, yes, architect fees are definitely worth paying. An architect isn’t simply there just to help with your self-build home’s design. They can also help with part or all of the build for you. A good architect will know exactly what building regulations will prevent certain aspects of the design from being possible, and will know who to contact regarding the various jobs which need completing.
How do I know where to find a good architect?
A good place to start would be the Royal Institute of British Architects. They can provide you with a list of all the UK based architects who are registered with the Architects’ Registration Board. While this won’t be a guarantee of good architect fees, you’ll certainly get a list of architects who should be able to guarantee quality. Of course, good old-fashioned word of mouth should allow you to find an architect who will do a good job and not charge extortionate amounts for it.
What you absolutely mustn’t do is just settle on the first one you come across because they gave a cheap quote. This might mean that their contribution to your project is limited in comparison to someone else’s. Get in contact with several architects and compare how much they are going to contribute to a project and how much they’re going to charge for it. Architect fees aren’t always representative of the work they do, and it won’t hurt to do a little research of your own to find architect fees which are.
So what are reasonable architect fees and why should I pay them?
If you’re unsure of any of the stages of a self-build project, you may appreciate hiring a design and build company as all the professionals, including an architect, will be hired on your behalf. Even if you’re going to be your own project manager you may appreciate an architect’s help and guidance. Architects will often come up with a design while taking on board your requests, as well as visiting the site throughout construction and meeting with local planners. The convenience this will provide is immeasurable. You’ll be able to focus your attention on other parts of the process and be able to spend less time visiting the site yourself.
An architect may cost you more money, but their technical experience will make your home design more energy efficient and practical for your lifestyle. Without one, you may very well end up spending more in the long run on all kinds of things, like heating bills and replacement building materials. And should you decide to sell up in the future, a professionally designed house will have a higher market value.
A common way of paying architect fees is as a percentage of the total construction cost because there isn’t a general fee scale. If you want an architect’s full service for your entire project, you will probably pay between 8-12%, and between 3-5% if you only want their service for the planning stages. Whatever architect fees you end up paying, make sure they’re established from the start and when they’ll be paid, and keep a record of this in writing.
Rates for initial discussions and surveys are normally about £52 an hour for an architect, and can be £90 for a firm’s partner’s services. Either way, the knowledge they can convey to you can increase the value of your home way beyond these amounts in the long run.
Image: Doug Wheller