Architectural drawing

How much does an architect cost

As you consider the exciting prospect of building a new property or adding an extension to an existing one, many questions about project costs will arise. One of these questions is likely to be "what will the architect cost?" This article breaks down the costs of an architect to help you better understand what you might expect to pay for various architectural services at different stages of a building project.

What's in this guide?

  1. How architects charge
  2. Drawing up plans
  3. Planning permission
  4. Building regulations
  5. Build management
  6. Location

How architects charge for their services

Architects may charge by percentage, flat rate, hourly rate or a combination of all three. Often the phase of the project an architect is involved in will determine how the costs are calculated.

At the beginning stages up to the submission of a planning application, it is easier to assess the scope of the services to be provided which allows architects to charge a flat rate. If you want your architect to manage the rest of the project, they may charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the entire cost of the project.

Hourly rate

Although the hourly fee is not the most common way for architects to charge their clients, they may do so for smaller projects or during the building stages of the project. The cost of an architect varies depending on a variety of factors such as the architect’s expertise, the complexity of the project and its location. Architect hourly fees in the UK currently range between £50 and £120.

A flat rate

Architects tend to charge a flat fee for the work that can be easily assessed and calculated. This is usually any work done leading up to the submission for planning permission – designing, preparing the plans, construction drawings and other documentation needed for the planning application.

Percentage

When architects are involved in the whole project from start to finish, they will usually charge a flat fee for part of the work and a percentage for the other part. You could expect to pay 5-15% of your whole build cost to cover architect fees. The percentage rates will usually go down as the project size increases so while you may expect to pay a lower rate for big and costly projects, small projects will usually rack up a higher percentage rate.

3d architectural drawing

Some architectural services can be provided by other specialists

The prices you pay will also depend on the type of specialist you choose to hire. Architects have the highest academic qualifications and therefore will be able to offer the full architectural service – from concept design to detailed construction drawings, and specifications as well as project management and administration all the way to completion.

If the undertaking is a listed property or a conservation area, hiring an architect will be required.

However, depending on the specifics of your project, instead of hiring an architect, you may decide to hire other specialists such as an architectural technologist, architectural technician, structural engineer or interior designer, which may reduce your fees.

Extension vs. new build-costs

Although it may seem counterintuitive, architect fees for an extension tend to be higher than the fees you can expect to pay for a new build. This is because adding to an existing structure requires considering more complex components.

If your architect is charging 12% for an extension or conversion project that costs £150,000, you would pay £18,000 in architect fees. For a new build project that costs £150,000, your architect may charge 9% and therefore you would pay £13,500 in architect fees.

This table is a rough estimation of how much you might expect to pay in architect fees depending on the type of project and the construction cost:

Construction cost Conversion, extension, refurbishment New Build Listed building
  % £ % £ % £
£150,000

14%

£21,000

9.5%

£14,250

15%

£22,500

£300,000

13%

£39,000

8.5%

25,000

14.5%

43,500

£500,000

12%

£60,000

8%

£40,000

14%

£70,000

£1,000,000

10%

£100,000

7%

£70,000

13%

£130,000

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Drawing up plans

How much and what plans your project needs will determine the costs.

You may only need an architect to draw an initial concept design with three-dimensional models for you to be able to see what your home will look like post-build. Conversely, you may need an architect to produce floor plans, elevations and visualisations that will be required to apply for planning permission, building control approval and for contractor use during the construction process. The costs for these will depend on the specifics of the project and what plans and technical drawings are required.

For small to medium-sized projects you can expect to pay between £700 (for a small renovation project) and £10,000 (for a small new build).

PLanning permission

Planning permission costs

Although submitting a planning application isn't always required, it is a common part of many building projects. Planning permission is something that assesses whether the undertaking is appropriate for the area. A local planning authority will consider things such as whether, for example, it is another residential house in a row of residential houses versus if it’s a factory in a residential neighbourhood.

Drawings necessary for planning applications start at £2,000 for extensions and £10,000 for small new builds. In addition to architect fees, you will also need to cover the application fee which is currently set at £206 for the majority of building projects and £462 for some extensively large undertakings.

Building regulations costs

building regulation drawings

Once you have planning permission from the local authority, you may also require a building regulations approval which assesses aspects such as safety, energy efficiency and accessibility of your proposed building.

Drawings needed for building regulations and tender drawings start from £7,000 for extensions and £12,000 for small scale new builds. You will also need to pay the application fee in addition to the architect costs. The application fee will depend on the specifics and the locality of the project. For more information, visit the Building Regulations Approval page.

Build management costs

In addition to producing designs, drawings and plans, an architect can manage the entire project, including the building stages. Hiring an architect to manage the project can be very cost-effective as they have a wealth of experience and know the best local industry professionals and therefore will be able to find the best-suited builders and other contractors for your specific project. They will also oversee and manage the build as well as ensure that everything is kept within budget, delivered on time and that the work is completed to standard.

Generally, architects will charge either a percentage or an hourly rate for this part of the project.

Location

London Bridge, London buss

The price of an architect will depend on the location of your project.

Generally speaking, architect’s fees will be around 10% higher than average in London and the South East. In North of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland you could expect the costs to be 10% lower than average.

Other considerations

When estimating the costs, you should also consider other contractors that your project will require such as builders or structural engineers. If you are making structural changes, you will need to hire a structural engineer. Structural engineer’s average hourly rate in the UK is £50 - £90. If the project requires a building survey, you can expect to pay an additional £200 - £2,000 for surveying services.

In summary

The exact architectural services costs will depend on a combination of factors such as:

  • Architect’s expertise

  • The level of service and deliverables offered, for example, what can be done in-house, the use of technology, and whether you will be submitting a planning application to a local authority

  •  The nature and complexity of the project – whether it’s an extension, a conversion or a new build

  • Whether it’s a listed building or a conservation area

  • The location of the project

It is also worth noting that hiring a professional architect means you are hiring someone with a wealth of knowledge and expertise who will ensure that you get a high-quality result and save money in the long run.

Regardless of whether you pay the architect by the hour, a flat fee, a percentage, or any combination of these, the same 5-15% of your whole build cost is a good estimation of what you can expect to pay. The percentage will be higher for smaller projects and decrease with the increase in the scope of the project. These rates don’t include the VAT.

Clara Annesley

Writing about construction, Interior design and renovation.