What do you want, what do you need, what can you afford?
We get to know you, what you like and what you need.

We distil everything, help you prioritise & see objectively

design & planning:

We look at the context
We develop a design & produce lots of sketches
We work hard to design a home that you will love
We try to meet as many of your needs as possible
We draw plans elevations, sketches, we write reports
We submit planning applications, listed building and conservation area consents

We design you a beautiful home that suits you and your surroundings

technical design & building regulations:

We check that your home will keep you warm
We work out how your home will be built
And what materials will be used
We ensure that your home is safe and secure
We work with structural engineers and other consultants to make sure it stands strong for many years to come.

We ensure compliance with statutory regulations

detailed design & tender:

We help you decide on finishes, fittings & materials.
We integrate all information from consultants & suppliers into a cohesive design & well designed building that ‘just works’.
We work out all the little details, how everything goes together and how to make it all look great.
We create detailed drawings to make sure the contractor/builder understands exactly what you want and that your project is built right first time.
We write a specification so that everything important is priced for.
We prepare a standard building contract and make sure that all the important details are included.

We get all the details right and ensure that that information is clearly communicated


We administer the building contract in a fair and professional manner.
Keep track and in control of changes to the design and specification.
Monitor cost changes and control payments to the contractor.
Monitor build quality and check that your project is being built in accordance with the contract.
Make changes to drawing and specifications in accordance with on-site changes and unforeseen site conditions.
Draw up additional construction details and shop drawings as required for specialist detail items.
Certify practical completion.

We ensure that you get what you want, safeguard your interests and make sure you only pay for work that is required.

post completion:

We check and arrange for defects to be rectified at the end of the rectification period
Issue building handbook with information required to maintain and repair property.
Issue final certificate (often required by lenders and insurance companies).

We’re in it for the long haul.

We’re here to answer any questions you might have following the completion of your project.



What’s it going to cost? – Architects Fee’s

This is a very difficult question!

Our standard hourly rate is currently £35. Normally we work out how long your project is likely to take and give you a price based on that hourly rate. Every project is different though, so it’s very difficult to give you an answer without discussing your project requirements, budget and looking at the site. That’s why we always try to offer a free no obligation consultation and quotation. We can work out what you want and give you a quote before you have to decide if you want to use our services. We try to make sure our fees remain competitive, and you’ll find our hourly rate is very low in comparison to other architects.

We try, where possible, to offer a fixed fee but sometimes we may suggest a percentage of build cost or hourly rate where it’s difficult to determine the scope of the project.

We usually price for what architects call a full service contract. This covers design of your project, applying for planning & building regulations, producing tender drawings and specifications, and managing the tender and building process. A full service contract provides you with the best protection against something going wrong. We take the strain and this normally provides the best overall quality. However we will break the pricing down into it’s various elements and it’s up to you which stages you want to use us for.

For more information have a look at our blog post on Architects Fees.

What’s it going to cost? – Build Cost

People often ask us what a project is likely to cost. In the early days, it’s not very easy to do that. Every project is different. Ask two different builders to price the same job and you will often get two very different prices. In the early stages we will normally work to square meter areas and weight the m2 cost by a high or low specification or complexity of the build. This will give us an idea of whether the design is in the right ballpark.

As the project progresses and the level of detail in the drawings and specification increases the better the costs can be predicted, at tender stage if the prices are too high we can normally adjust the specification and alter the design to bring the costs within budget.

Aren’t architects expensive?

Building projects generally are expensive. They may be the most expensive thing you will ever spend your money on. If you buy a new build home the cost of an architect will have been included in the overall cost of the house and the development so you wouldn’t necessarily notice it, but it’s part of the premium you pay for a new house. When you employ an architect directly that cost will be shown to you as a separate cost and it may seem like a big number, but in terms of the significant amount of work carried out and the value added by your architect throughout the process, it’s really not expensive at all. Not using an architect can be much more expensive as the problems emerge afterwards! Compare the hourly rate to any other professional service, and you’ll see it as very reasonable, however we will be involved in each project for much longer and do much more work per job than some of our counterparts. When considering if you can afford an architect’s services you should consider whether the cost of the land or existing property plus the building work and your architect and other consultant’s fees add up to more or less than the cost of a similar property in the same area, and whether that property would be what you want. Another thing to consider is how many hours we’ll spend working on your project to make sure everything goes smoothly and looks great. Can you afford the time? It’ll probably take you longer than it will us, and do you have the expertise? Can you afford the significant costs that which might be incurred if something goes wrong? It takes a minimum of 7 years to fully train as an architect, and without the relevant insurances we aren’t even allowed to practice.

The price of your new home shouldn’t vary much whether you buy it off the shelf, or whether you have it designed and purpose built, extended or converted, using an architect. The difference is that using an architect should ensure you end up with exactly what you want, not the compromise most people settle for. We’ll make you a promise; hire us and when you see your new home, you will be glad you did!


My house is listed, does that mean I can’t extend?

Listed properties have an extra level of protection as they have been identified as having important architectural or historic features. This doesn’t mean that you can’t extend them, but the listing will identify which parts of the property are seen to be important and the planners will want to see these preserved. You will be required to submit an application for listed building consent (this is required for any alteration to listed buildings, structural or not). The council’s conservation officer will want to visit the property and may make inspections throughout the works. The council will want to ensure the new addition respects the listed building in both design and quality of materials and workmanship. Depending on the situation, the design of the new addition would be required to be an almost exact match in style to the existing building or very modern to show exactly what is old and what is new, but the design should always respect and enhance the existing building.

My house is in a conservation area; what about extending that?

Houses in conservation areas are a bit like listed buildings, however the planners will be interested in the exterior appearance (not the interior, as they might for a listed building) and how the building works as part of the wider conservation area. This, again, doesn’t mean that you wont be able to extend, just that the design and build quality once again must respect the area. Views within a conservation are often important, and conservation areas often contain multiple listed building. Even if your property isn’t listed you will be required to take into account listed properties in the vicinity of your property and how your project affects them. Properties in conservation areas usually have permitted development rights removed and a planning application will be required for all alterations. Conservation area consent will be required for demolition.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

The standard planning process usually takes about 8 weeks, providing it is passed first time and doesn’t go to committee. Complications make the process longer and the clock only starts when the planning department has got all the information they need, received the fee and ‘validated’ the application. This can sometimes take a few weeks. You must also remember that before a planning application can be made your project has to be designed and the final planning package drawn and put together. This takes time and you must allow for it. The quicker you can make decisions on the ideas your architect presents to you the quicker this process will be.

What about permitted development?

Permitted development is a pre-determined amount and type of building work that can be undertaken without planning permission. Further information can be found at the Planning Portal.

Before deciding to build something under permitted development we recommend you speak to an architect first. The money you may save by going down this route may be quite small in the grand scale of things. We may be able to suggest alternative options and you may find your property harder to sell afterwards due to today’s legal requirements.

building regulations:

Do I need Building Regulations Approval?

Yes, for nearly every building project you will need building regulations approval. Building Regs is a legal requirement to ensure that your project is built to minimum statutory standards. This may take two routes, either submission of plans + inspections or Building Notice, which is riskier. Both routes will normally be subject to the same fee.


To tender or not to tender?

Tendering (competitive pricing) is the standard way of appointing a contractor to do building work. Your architect will write a specification and provide tender drawings, which between two and four contractor’s (sometimes more on larger projects) will be asked to price. The prices provided will be for exactly the same work/specification. that way you will be able to make a fair decision in the knowledge that everyone has priced for the same thing. The specification and drawings will be then entered into the contract documentation so that the price is fixed (subject to amendments), and the contractor is legally obliged to build everything in the agreed format.

By tendering the work you will know that you have been offered a fair price. However if you want to use a specific contractor, a friend, or someone you have used before for example, we would still recommend that you negotiate the tender with your chosen contractor based on a fixed specification and drawings. That way you will be able to agree a price up front, as even small building projects can easily vary by tens of thousand of pounds.



The ARB and RIBA are acronyms that you will see associated with architects.

ARB stands for Architects Registration Board which is a body formed by government under the Architects Act 1997. The ARB is a consumer protection body they protect the title Architect. Anyone using the title Architect in the UK must be registered with the ARB, to do so they must have passed the RIBA part I, II & III exams (normally 7 years in university) and comply with the ARB code of conduct.

RIBA stands for Royal Institute of British Architects. RIBA’s mandate is to promote architecture and quality in the built environment. RIBA is a membership organisation funded by members’ subscriptions. Members may use the name Chartered Architect and the acronym RIBA after their name. Chartered members must be registered with the ARB and agree to the RIBA code of conduct.

Both codes insist on high levels of professional integrity, professional indemnity insurance (to protect you should anything go wrong), written contracts, the method of calculating fee’s agreed in advance, suitable complaints procedures and a requirement to undertake set levels of continued professional development training each year. Both the RIBA and ARB have complaints committees, where if you feel that your architect has not acted the way he or she should; you can take your grievance. If found guilty your architect may, depending on the seriousness of the complaint, be struck off the register or fined.

When employing an architect to design your home, both the ARB and RIBA maintain online registers; you can use to ensure your architect is who they say they are. If you believe someone is using the title incorrectly please report it to the ARB who have the power to prosecute incorrect use of the title.

All Designplay projects are overseen by architects registered with ARB & RIBA.


2nd Jan 2013

Fees for architectural services can be very complex and difficult to work out. Fees will vary depending on the size or complexity of the project, the time scales involved or additional insurance requirements. And of course the type of contract on which you wish to employ your architect and the stages at which you wish to employ them.


This section is coming soon...


Designplay are chartered architects located near York and in Settle, North Yorkshire. Registered in England & Wales as Designplay LTD no: 08482096. The architects within this company are registered as such under the Architects Act 1997.

Royal Institute of British Architects - RIBA Architects Registration Board - ARB

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