How much does an architect cost?

The most common question I am asked on the initial call from a prospective client is: “How much will it cost for a set of drawings for planning?”

It is entirely understandable that they’d like a guideline cost, but as with many things in life, there is much to consider.

Firstly, we don’t simply docalculator-1163491_640 a set of drawings, secondly, it depends a huge amount on what we are designing and thirdly, it’s very likely that the client will need more than a set of drawings for planning (but on the other hand, they may also not need planning consent at all!)

So firstly, an architect will do much more than simply draw up what the client has worked out in their head on bits of paper.  We are here to add value.  We are here to tease out and carefully capture ‘the brief’ and then put it through the mincer of all the planning and construction regulations.  We’ll apply years of experience and training and develop a series of visuals that both challenge the brief areas that are unclear, as well as offer key concepts that may provide a solution more fitting than the initial client sketches.

The client may have a sketch with everything worked out: the bits and pieces all put in their places, and where it is to go on site.  It’s great that they know what they want, but what an architect really wants is a list of problems to be solved with the existing building (unless we are talking a new-build) and a list of things that the client wants to see in terms of space, light, feeling, relationships of spaces etc in the solution.  We cut out magazines pictures, or use an app like ‘Pinterest’ to assemble ideas.  We talk about sunlight and daylight, views and lifestyle choices, the possible evolving pattern of occupation over the future years.

The more time spent up front exploring exactly what is going on within the space, the more successful the project is likely to be.  To change design at any stage is to cause delay, risk potential extra costs and risk the refusal by planning of a changed design.

Building Regulation consent will need to be obtained from detailed construction drawings before anything can be built.  Today there are more technical requirements than ever: for example to design a new building one must appoint a EPC assessor (energy performance certificate) which will drive the specification since different elements can be offset against others to achieve the result required.

And many projects need someone technical to check that the building is going up in accordance with the drawings and regulations.

Secondly, working on adapting/extending an existing building is more challenging than designing a new one.  Most things are covered up; there are challenges about marrying old and new.  Is it a utilitarian box or something very aspirational?

Thirdly, there are a lot of conversations to be had.  We are often asked to put together a list of possible consultants like engineers.  The Planners may want a bat survey, a tree survey, a wildlife survey.  The architect’s job is to sort this out.

The answer to the question “How much does an architect cost?” could go on forever.  But since all reasonable architects offer a free first consultation at your property, the best answer is “ask the architect!”

Stephen Waldron Architects spend an hour with each potential client and at the end offer a letter setting out all the costs and issues we can think of.  Our fee is shown in lump sums for each stage, with no commitment to go to the next.  It costs nothing and it gives you the answers!  Contact us for your free consultation – we’d love to talk.

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