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Architect fees

If you are planning building work an architect can help you turn your ideas into reality, whether it's an extension, conversion, or renovation project. But how much does an architect cost? How do they structure their fees and which option is best? Here we explain what architect fees are being charged in 2022 and what those fees include.

architect fees

Architect fees in 2022

Architect fees vary for several reasons, but as of 2022 you can expect to pay an architect anything between 3% to 15% of your total construction costs. We look at why this varies so much below.

How much do architects charge?

In the past, architect fees were straightforward. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published fee scales for members to use to decide how much to charge. This meant one RIBA member was charging much the same as another.

But RIBA abolished its architect fee scale in 2009 in favour of a more competitive market. As a result, architect fees vary a great deal between architects so you need to have a good understanding of the different way fees are structured and shop around so you have a rough idea of what you should be paying, in order to get the best deal.

Looking for an architect? Use our find an architect service to receive a list of suppliers in your area

What are the different types of architect fees?

In most cases architects charge in one of three ways: fixed fees, percentage fees and time-charge fees. Sometimes an architect will use a combination of all three. You’ll need to understand what each of these mean in order to know how much you are going to pay.

  • Fixed fees – This is a straightforward amount agreed for a set piece of work. An architect may charge a fixed fee for a straightforward piece of work when they can clearly work out how much time it will take. For example, you may be charged a fixed fee for the drawings required for planning permission.
  • Percentage fees – This is where your architect charges you a percentage of the construction cost. Before fees can be estimated, you will need to discuss with the architect the services you, the approximate construction budget and the nature of the work. The industry typically recommends you work out your architect fees based on a percentage of your total budget.
  • Hourly rates – This is when your architect charges you an hourly or daily rate. Your architect may opt for this fee structure if neither of you know how much time and work will be involved. For example, you want your architect to project manage from start to finish an extension on your home. This type of fee usually includes a minimum amount and a maximum limit on what you can be charged. Records of time spent on services should be logged and made available to you on a regular basis so you can keep track of spend.

Architects may also charge for expenses. Check whether this is the case and whether these are included in the agreed fee or charged separately.

What affects architect fees?

While no two building projects are the same, the fees you pay your architect will be influenced by:

  • The experience and reputation of the architect
  • The size of the project
  • The type of building
  • The complexity of the job
  • The location of both the architect and your building site
  • If you need any bespoke design work
  • Their level of involvement. This can range from supplying drawings for planning permission to managing the whole project with regular site visits until completion.

Examples of architect fees

The architect’s job Architect fees
Single storey extension with planing application £1,000 – £2,500
Two storey extension with planning application £1,000 – £4,000
New build planning application £3,000 – £5,000
Drawings and plans for building regulation approval on an extension £3,000 – £6,000
Drawings and plans for building regulation approval on a new build £5,000 – £8,000

Architect hourly rates

If you and your architect agree to a time charge fee, then they will charge you based on their hourly rates. In the UK you can expect to pay an architect a rate of £50 – £100 an hour.

Looking for an architect? Use our find an architect service to receive a list of suppliers in your area

What are the different architect fees for?

With potentially big fees to pay it is important to make sure you know how to work with your architect. This starts by understanding all the ways your architect can help during your project.

  • Feasibility study – The first time an architect can help is by coming to look at your home or the site and to work out if what you want to do is actually possible and to give some initial design input.
  • Conceptual drawings  – having gathered a brief of what you are trying to achieve, the architect will work up conceptual designs for discussion and approval.
  • Planning application – An architect can draw up plans to help you through the planning permission process. It may be that full planning permission isn’t needed and a lawful development certificate is recommended because your project falls into permitted development rights. If not, then full planning permission will be required whereby the architect will submit drawings of your design for the local authority to assess. This will include drawings of your existing home and drawings of proposed new design. The architect should manage this whole process for you and liaise with your local planning officials.
  • Building regulations – The architect will then use the planning drawings to gather more detailed technical drawings and submit them to get sign-off from your local authority Building Control team. This team checks your proposed plans meet building regulations. Your architect may need input from a structural engineer or party wall specialist at this stage (watch for additional costs here).
  • Tender and construction – Your architect may be able to help you go out to tender to find local builders for your project. Whether you or the architect do this, they should still pull together the drawings, specifications and work items list for your builders to use in providing a quote for the project and during construction.
  • Construction inspection and contract administration – You can pay your architect to make sure your builders are building to the brief and the project stays on track. They can also check your contract with your builder to make sure progress and payments are correct.
  • Project management – It is possible to pay your architect to oversee your whole building project. You should consider this if you have a particularly ambitious design as your architect can ensure their plans become reality.

Other costs to consider

When you start budgeting for your building project, before you decide how much you can afford to pay for architect fees, make sure you include other additional costs that are often forgotten. These include:

  • Planning application – an architect may be able to help you design a small project, so it doesn’t need planning permission. If you do have to submit a planning application, you will need to pay a fee to your local authority as well as your architect’s fees for planning drawings. A full planning permission application for alterations/extensions to a single dwelling house or a flat in England is currently  £206 in 2022.
  • Inspection and building control – You will need to submit a Building Notice to your local authority before you start work. Make sure you budget for inspection costs that may be needed. Most local authorities offer fee calculators on their websites. A single storey extension may cost a few hundred pounds.
  • Structural engineer – An architect can’t do the technical calculations. So, you may need to budget for structural engineer costs

How much does an architect cost to draw plans?

As we’ve discussed above, architect fees are affected by several factors. How much you will pay to have plans drawn up will depend on the size of the project, your location, and how complex the project will be.

For example, drawing up plans to add a bay window to your home will cost a lot less than paying an architect to draw plans for a complex two-storey extension.

To get an idea and ensure you don’t pay over the odds make sure you get quotes from several architects in your area. You can find architects working in your local area and request quotes with our free Find an Architect tool.

Loft conversion architect cost

The exact amount you will pay for an architect for a loft conversion will depend on your individual project. You can expect to pay between £900 and £1,500 for an architect to draw up plans for planning permission.

If you want an architect to draw up loft conversion plans for planning permission and building regs they could charge you between £1,400 and £2,000.

These are ballpark figures. To get a more precise idea you should get quotes from several architects in your area.

If you want an architect involved, brief them about your budget expectations. Two of the biggest cost variables in budgeting for a loft conversion are the complexity of the project and the quality of the finishes: the simpler the design, the lower the cost. In particular costs rise according to the level of alterations required to the existing property.

  • Lowest cost: A rooflight conversion that simply involves fitting out the existing roof space, requiring limited structural alterations and the addition of insulation, plumbing and heating, staircase, plaster and decoration, will be the least expensive option.
  • Mid-Cost: Adding one or more dormer windows to add more usable space will involve more structural alterations and so will typically cost more money, especially if access is limited.
  • Highest cost: A mansard loft conversion, or converting a modern engineered truss roof, can effectively mean replacing the whole of the existing roof structure with an additional attic storey and is the most expensive.

Architect fees for an extension

Again, the precise amount an architect will charge for an extension will depend on the particulars of your project. The more complex your requirements of your home extension the more you will pay. For a single storey extension, you could pay between £1,000 to £2,500 rising to £3,000 if you want building regulations and construction drawings rather than just planning permission drawings.

Architect fees for a two-storey extension could start from £1,500 for planning permission drawings rising to £6,000 for building regulations and construction drawings.

There are a lot of elements to a building project that an architect can help with. However, that help comes at a cost. If you aren’t sure you can afford architect fees look at our guide to renovating without an architect.

How can I reduce an architect’s fees?

Consider whether your project and budget can justify a fully qualified architect who has a nationwide reputation and heads up their own firm. Some people opt for an architectural designer or technician with experience designing small and medium sized home renovation projects who are cheaper to engage.

As mentioned above, the amount an architect charges also depends on the complexity of the project. So keep questioning throughout the design stage as to the least expensive option. For example, if on the site visit the architect suggests moving the staircase from one side of the house to the other to improve flow, or a curved wall of glass to deliver the wow-factor, remind them of your budget. As you can imagine these ideas will involve a lot more work for the architect to design, and be a lot more expensive for you later on in material and build costs.

If you want to keep the costs down, you could simply ask the architect to give you conceptual drawings and get a builder you trust to build to them. You’ll need to check planning and buildings regs first of course.

And don’t forget to get quotes from a few architects. It’s not until you’ve spoken to a few different professionals that you can get a better handle on value for money.

For more tips, read our guide Do I need an architect?

Architect fees – in summary

First time remodelling a home? Then it can be difficult to work out how much an architect costs upfront. After all, what’s 10% of a budget you haven’t decided on yet?

With so many different types of building project requiring different levels of architectural input with their own individual costs, it’s not until you have scoped out your project with your architect that you’ll get a real sense of what the costs will be.

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