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.

There are three ways architects normally work out fees:

by hourly rate

Hourly rates are simplest to understand; you pay for your architects time at a fixed hourly rate for however long it takes, to which additional costs paid out on your behalf such as travel expenses and printing are normally added. This method means you only pay for what time your architect actually spends working on your project. However, you won't have the security of knowing what you are going to pay, and in this business things usually take longer than you think (or hope) they will take. Our hourly rate is £35.00 for a qualified architect, Substantially cheaper than many of our competitors.

by percentage

Percentage fees are the most common way of calculating the cost of architectural services. Fees are based on the cost of the building project before VAT. The premise being that cost follows complexity and complexity increases design costs. Percentages reduce as the size of the job increases, as larger projects benefit from economies of scale. Some people may feel that this method of calculating fees discourages architects to control the cost of projects. Although this is not usually true (most architects would consider this unprofessional) it doesn’t really give your architect and incentive to actively look for cost savings.

fixed fee

Fixed fees are relatively rare as it’s hard to work out fixed fees at the beginning of a project. A fixed fee will be calculated as a lump sum for doing the job regardless of the final cost of the project (as long as the brief doesn’t change). We prefer this method because both parties know what will be paid and when. The process is transparent and you won’t worry that we will increase the cost of your project to improve our fee. Depending on the project and brief it might be impossible to offer you a fixed fee and we may suggest a hybrid fee on a time or percentage charge for the initial design stage with an estimate for the rest of the project so that we can establish a fixed point of reference and fix the price later on.

  • 2nd Jan 2013
  • Tips and Advice


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.

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