Q: Do you give free advice?
We are happy to give limited advice over the phone to help get you started. Some architects offer to meet for free, but we usually raise a modest charge to cover the professional time spent on the initial consultation meeting at your home. This can vary according to the circumstances of the enquiry, so you are very welcome to call to discuss your project beforehand.
The first meeting can often help establish the viability of your project and explore potential options, but the extent of the advice is usually limited as many of the finer details will not yet be established and will vary considerably with the nature and complexity of the work. The initial meeting is a useful 'getting to know you' session for both parties to see how you might approach the project together.
As our appointments and workload are increasingly made through recommendation, it has become difficult to offer unpaid professional advice on speculative enquiries that are unlikely to progress to an appointment. This would apply where there is already an incumbent architect and a comparative quote is sought, or perhaps a homeowner looking for advice when selling their home or to explore the options before purchasing a prospective property whilst house-hunting. In such cases, a 'one-off' charge to cover the cost of the initial meeting (or an hourly time charge consultancy basis if more involved) is appropriate. This is without obligation to continue, but will then be deducted from subsequent fees should the project progress to an appointment.
If you are given free professional input and decide not to proceed any further, we would always encourage you to make a charitable donation in lieu of the free professional time that you have enjoyed.
Q: What are the likely architectural fees?
Professional architectural fees are negotiable and no longer relate to fee scales, so you are entitled to shop around to compare, but fees can vary considerably according to the nature of the work. Survey drawings or Planning submissions might be a simple lump sum, whereas overseeing a project to completion is more likely to be linked as a percentage of the final cost of the project. Such percentages can very greatly (typically between 4 and 8 percent of the overall project cost for conventional new build, even up to 14 percent for complex or specialist work).
Professional fees are under constant pressure to remain competitive whilst meeting the demands of an increasingly onerous legislative and professional environment. The addition of new Health and Safety duties upon designers under CDM 2015 (now encompassing the domestic market), ever improving technical demands of the Building Regulations, and professional overheads mean that fees will inevitably need to rise to address each of these new requirements.
Q: What isn't included in an architectural fee?
Disbursements /expenses incurred and substantial re-design work are normally additional, but these must be based on agreed criteria beforehand such as mileage rates, printing costs and hourly rates respectively. Some important costs including fees to accompany the Planning Application and Building Control submission, fees for other consultants (such as a Structural Engineer, Energy Performance Assessor, Party Wall Surveyor or solicitor etc) fees to Statutory Authorities ( e.g. for 'build over sewer ' agreements) or the cost of a more detailed topographical survey will be directly payable by you the client to those bodies concerned and are not included.
Q: Do you include structural engineering for any alterations?
No, a Structural Engineer would need to be appointed separately to make a proper assessment of the design and prepare necessary calculations for submission to Building Control, but your Architect can suggest suitable practitioners.
Q: Are my consumer rights protected?
Yes, they are required to be protected by law, especially when they relate to home improvements. Agreements for undertaking professional Architectural services must comply with consumer protection legislation and the RIBA have published suitable guidance that meets the required standards. This includes cancellation rights.
Q: Do I need to pay VAT for Architectural Services?
No, not for smaller companies such as ourselves that fall below the current threshold for VAT. However, larger companies will exceed the threshold and will charge VAT.