How Much Does an Architect Cost in 2023? Do I even need one?/
Let us guess! You’re in the same shoes we were, trying to work out how much your renovation will end up costing and you’ve landed on the question “how much does an architect cost?”.
Architects fees are one of the first areas of concern. You might even be wondering: “do I need an architect?” and we’ll show you a simple system to find out! It works every time.
But first off, congratulations is in order if you’re planning a home renovation! What an exciting time.
You’re undoubtedly about to take on one of the most transformational projects in your lifetime. Renovation planning is up there with planning a wedding, or starting a family. It doesn’t come without its stresses but you’ll never regret it and you’ll build memories (and a home) for a lifetime.
We know because we did it!
Well, not the wedding part (we’re one of those couples who’ve been engaged for years!) No, we bought a disgusting, dated 1930s house renovation and set about making it our ideal, Modern Country inspired home.
…we know all about the dust, sweat, and tears involved in a home renovation. Believe us.
But we got hooked on renovation life. In the years following it, Fi trained to become an interior designer. And we now coach other renovators, showing them how to get started with their projects.
Usually people join our free renovation guide first and when they’re ready for more support, they work with us through the renovation online course with help from other renovators in the community.
We get a lot of homeowners at the early stages of their projects asking us “How much does an architect cost? Do I need to hire one?” It’s a question that deserves a lot of thought as hiring an architect is a significant investment making up between 5-10% of your overall build cost. You want to make sure you’re making the right decision.
When you first start planning layout ideas and researching the costs to renovate a house, there are so many questions you need answering to determine whether you’re able to afford your bigger ideas, or whether you need to scale back and keep things modest.
In this article we’re sharing:
The average cost of an architect in the UK
Do you need an architect? (with a simple system to find out)
When you need to consider hiring an architect
What you’ll be paying for in an architect’s fees
Plus some cheat ways to consider to bring costs down if you do need to hire an architect
First of all, how much does an architect cost in the UK?
The average cost to hire an architect can vary largely depending on the experience of the architect and the complexity of your project but generally you can expect and architect to charge between 5-10% of your overall build costs. An architect who has many years of experience in the sector is going to charge more than an architect who has just completed their final year studying. And a more modest project such as a kitchen extension is going to cost less than a complete remodel of a full property.
Do I need an architect?
This is an important question to ask yourself. If you’re really unsure about what an architect can bring to the table you should read our post ‘what does an architect do?’)
If you plan on doing any structural changes to your property such as changing the exterior (front or back), adding a loft conversion, adding a kitchen extension or any kind of single or double storey extension, or if you are removing load-bearing walls, you will need to seek the right expertise to produce construction drawings for this work. An architect can help you achieve all of these, however in some cases with smaller builds you may make a saving by seeking the help of other specialists.
Use this flow chart below to give you an idea of your options:
***Note that a Structural Engineer is required when you are making any structural changes such as removing walls, sections of chimney breasts, full chimney breasts etc. Your architect, technologist, or designer will likely have contacts they regularly work with.
The key takeaways are:
An architect will be trained to do all drawings and technical specification required for any renovation type and size. If you have a listed property, architects are a must as they have more experience working with listed properties and conservation areas.
An architectural technologist is a more affordable route to getting technical drawings prepared if you know exactly what you want. These drawings are invaluable for contractors to work from. Architectural technologists are a fraction of the cost of architects and are commonly used for domestic extensions, loft conversions and sometimes minor renovation work such as removing a wall.
If you’re only removing a wall, work with a structural engineer to ensure its safe removal.
An interior designer is more affordable than an architect and technologist, and will provide good value for money on making the best use of internal space (architects and technicians don’t always consider your interior layout.) They are a gateway to the best contractors at affordable prices. They provide much more considered lighting, electrical, plumbing specifications to ensure the best finish and they have networks to draw upon to deliver any technical drawings required (from local technicians and engineers).
If you aren’t doing any structural work, you won’t require the services of an architect, technician or designer.
Remember you will need to do your due diligence to ensure you’re conducting the project safely and legally. The Planning Portal is a fantastic resource to level up your knowledge on building regulations and legal requirements.
What we wish we knew before we started renovating & designing homes
Start with our Free Survivor's Guide to Renovating
👉 Tips on cutting costs, getting trustworthy contractors & delivering on time
👉Let's make your renovation less stressful, more fun and with fewer compromises
👉 Get confidence that you’re doing things right - don't regret wasting money
What’s included in an architect’s fees?
Domestic architects are worth their weight in gold when brought in to support the right projects. Normally large scale remodels, listed buildings and ambitious extensions. An architect will typically support any/all of the following tasks which aim to ensure your project is safely constructed in line with building regulations, optimising the layout and design of your property.
Measure + Survey the property
Develop a 2D + 3D design scheme (including material advice, electrical, heating and plumbing plans)
Revisions of the above scheme
Prepare + Submit drawings to LPA for Planning Permission (read about your planning permission rights)
Monitor your planning application
Produce + manage Tender (liaising/advising appointed contractors, sourcing materials for the project)
Manage the build start to finish (usually charged hourly separate to initial drawings and planning costs as laid out above)
Note that some architects only focus on the external walls, roof, and material makeup of the building and won’t give too much thought on the interior layout so it’s important that you ask this question upfront before commencing your project. When I work with clients it’s common practice for them to pass on their architect plans for me to advise and plan interior layout.
At what point in my renovation do I need to hire an architect?
Now, that can really depend. Timelines can vary for all renovations but usually, it’s very early on in the process of renovating but there is work you need to prepare first. Not much can be achieved structurally without adequate architectural drawings and planning/building approval. But don’t make the mistake of bringing an architect in too soon…
We learned the hard way after spending a lot of money in architect fees…
We moved into a 1930s house to renovate, and initially we thought we wanted to knock down 2 load bearing walls and rebuild an existing extension adding a new pitched roof for insulation to create a large kitchen dining room – so we hired an architect to draw the designs for us.
We explained our budget was about £60-80K for the whole house. The cost to hire the architect was between £3-4K. He designed the whole house for us (see our original downstairs floor plan drawings) with loft conversion plans should we ever need drawings for converting it. Then quotes came back from contractors for the build and they estimated £80K for only that area. We decided to ditch the dream 80K kitchen extension for a more modest build, knocking a wall down between the kitchen/diner instead and ended up completing most of the house (without loft conversion) with the money we would have spent on just one area. (More about renovation costs in this post).
We just didn’t understand what we wanted early on, and hired an architect to decide for us – big mistake. We paid to hire an architect when all we needed was an architectural technologist to draw the ground floor for us, and a Structural Engineer to measure for the RSJ.
Our renovation online course goes into detail about how and why you need to preparing yourself before hiring an architect. We learned the hard way by hiring an architect way too soon, and then not need one at all!
The timeline of a renovation is so important to have a solid understanding of too. It can be pretty difficult for new renovators to understand so we’ve drawn up the average timeline of a renovation in our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series. It’s completely free to sign up and is packed with budgeting and cost saving tips too.
Common home improvement projects architects can be hired for
No matter what era house you are making structural changes to, an edwardian house renovation, a bungalow renovation or a 1930s renovation, or any other type of property you will need to obtain construction drawings to ensure the work is carried out to authority standard.
Let’s look at some common examples:
EXAMPLE 1: You’re doing a single storey extension and wondering ‘do I need an architect?’
Follow the flow chart (above). If you know exactly what layout you want and you’re keeping within the permitted development rules, an Architectural Technologist may be enough. They will create the technical drawings required, showing cross sections of the roof pitch, details of windows, doors and material plans etc which contractors will be able to quote, and you’ll be able to submit with your building application.
But if you’re not sure about what layout is right, you need help to understand what’s achievable and/or your project is going to go beyond the rules for permitted developments, an Architect is going to be the best person for your project as they’ll produce the necessary documentation needed for tender and planning applications. An architect will bring a wealth of experience in getting your planning application approved, they’ll bring unique ideas to the project, and advise on everything from drainage to fire safety to ventilation and insulation.
EXAMPLE 2: You’re doing far more modest modifications like knocking 1 load bearing wall down to create open plan living. You’re not adding or extending.
A structural engineer is the only requirement if you’re doing more modest modifications like knocking through a kitchen diner or living room diner, as we did to our home. A structural engineer will advise you on whether the work is safe to do, what the legal requirements are, and they’ll calculate measurements for the RSJ steel required to support the weight above the wall you’re knocking down. You’ll still need to apply for Building Approval, and this is where it could be preferred to appoint an Architectural Technologist to prepare construction drawings of the whole project, as you will need in-depth drawings for the application and to issue for tender.
Other posts we’ve written to help you:
Why you SHOULDN’T start your renovation with an architect – do this instead
How much does a renovation cost?
Do I need a project manager for my renovation?
Average cost of a bathroom in the UK
Decided you need an architect, technologist, or interior designer? Here’s where to look for one
We might have over-egged our needs in hiring an architect but he produced some great plans for us that quickly got approved and handled the application. We found our architect on a neighbourhood forum on Facebook. Many people find an architect, architect technologists and interior designers on Houzz, which is fantastic for locating reputable contacts. Check whether the architects you’re getting in touch with are listed on the ARB (Architect’s Register).
Which avenue do you think you’ll go down? Architect technologist, architect or designer? We’ve got a load more advice on this website to help you, take a look at our online renovation course that’s helping renovators get incredible results. And sign up to our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating series for advice on budgeting, designing and managing your project. It’s free, so give it a try.
3 tips on how to keep architect costs to a minimum
Establish your brief clearly
Establishing your requirements as clearly as possible is key to avoiding an expensive design from your architect. This can include key rooms and ideal products and materials you wish to use.
Communicating clearly about the use of bespoke vs. off-the-shelf products can help an architect understand your priorities regarding design and budget.
Be clear about your budget and work with a contingency
When working with an architect, be clear about your budget as soon as possible and make allowances for a buffer on any figure you share. This should allow your architect to consider this at the very beginning when designing your project.
Architects can very often be optimists and this goes for construction costs also. This is why it is often important to give yourself a buffer on your stated budget figure to avoid risks.
Communication is Key
While it should normally be the architect’s responsibility to communicate with you, asking questions and confirming prices of items will help prevent costs spiralling out of control at an early stage.
Don’t be afraid to confirm the pricing of any items which may be proposed by your architect. If in doubt, a quantity surveyor can often provide accurate cost estimates at any stage in a building project
We hope our blog helped you to answer “how much does an architect cost?” thanks for reading and we’re looking forward to help you with your renovation plans!
Fi & Neil