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Zak S
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Hi. I have engaged architect now for my self build project. We appoint the architect who came at the top of the cost as we liked some of his work. He designed two house on the same street as demolish and rebuild. These are pretty big houses around 450sqm or more. On the basis of his experience with the same council and familiarity of the road as well as the design he has done (some of which award winning), we appointed him. His cost is slightly more than 15k including Buildings regs and tendering. I am pretty hands on with arranging things myself so Measured building survey/topo/bats survey/CCTV drainage survey has all been done so he would not need to do anything even in terms of tendering. Please could you advise how to achieve best value for each pound I spend on planning and design as well as tendering process. Tendering process only makes sense if he organises tenders from sub trades as no point asking for tenders from a builder as I can do that myself so dont see any value in that. Any feed back and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

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59 minutes ago, nod said:

Sounds quite steep

 

This firm was the highest in terms of quote. But given he has done quite a few development in the area which is pretty high spec (houses worth 2m or more - some of his design won awards); we thought it might be best to splash out at design stage to get the best possible design. The quotes we had were between 6k and 16k. On 6k - the feedback from previous client was that architect did not add much value. He just drew what we asked him to draw. Mid range was based 70 miles off and had not done any work in th area, I am looking at and was also persuading me to go down SIP route though he also had some good design on his track record. Hence we thought to go with the one we selected who is towards the higher end but keen to get our value for money. I want to ensure that I am aware where Architect can/need to add value to justify the premium. But please say so if this is just way too much to be sensible.

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18 minutes ago, epsilonGreedy said:

@Zak Swhat is your starting point? Do you have planning permission with an approved outline design?If so do you like this design?

We dont have anything. There is a banglow there on sitr. We have done the survey work as mentioned above and need design planning and build regs and then tendering.

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Has he listed everything included? If he is Chartered then this is likely to be a standard schedule by RIBA.

Plus you would want some explanation of his thoughts on your project.

Beware of 1. lots of other consultants he appoints and you pay for. (SE, QS, Planning)

2. choice of contractors, as his favoured ones might be great for him and expensive for you. but that also depends on his/your ability to schedule and manage.

 

But if he is good at all aspects, including value, then the fee might be ok.

 

 

RIBAPOW2020jpg.jpg?rev=b4e2adb3c1534c0faea951e8dcea35f5&h=495&w=700&la=en&hash=5DE3D917B6D5EC00FF523D6659E73EB3

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The whole thing is a very expensive business. I went with an expensive architect who got planning for me, but wanted a high budget so we parted ways. Can your favoured architect work with your budget or are they very wedded to high end? I have done some things cheaper but have also wasted plenty without her guidance. If you are a rookie, the whole thing is a steep learning curve.  I engaged my own structural engineer rather than using the 2nd architect's (technician for BC) preferred one and there was a stroppy, toys out of pram moment about sharing the the CAD diagrams.  I've ended up spending much more on renting due to delays. All the best. 

Edited by Jilly
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35 minutes ago, Zak S said:

This firm was the highest in terms of quote. But given he has done quite a few development in the area which is pretty high spec (houses worth 2m or more - some of his design won awards); we thought it might be best to splash out at design stage to get the best possible design. The quotes we had were between 6k and 16k. On 6k - the feedback from previous client was that architect did not add much value. He just drew what we asked him to draw. Mid range was based 70 miles off and had not done any work in th area, I am looking at and was also persuading me to go down SIP route though he also had some good design on his track record. Hence we thought to go with the one we selected who is towards the higher end but keen to get our value for money. I want to ensure that I am aware where Architect can/need to add value to justify the premium. But please say so if this is just way too much to be sensible.

Ours designed our previous build 

and has a few developments locally with multimillion pound homes Which he’s happy for us to look round and pinch ideas off 

Though we got on well with him the first time round and he always took our calls Even after we had paid him 

Probably the main reason for using him again 

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13 minutes ago, Jilly said:

sharing the the CAD diagrams

The design is yours. You commissioned and paid for it. 

Presumably you eventually got the drawings, but were they any use for the other parties?

 

I (as Engineer and contractor) have had clients' architects erase all dimensions before handing over. 

Also many errors in both draughting and in being buildable.

 

In any case we would always redraw in 3d as you have little idea if the drawings are correct.

 

This was rightly an issue on our current 'Buildhub self-build'. Our appointed SE would not commit to using our Architect's drawings until seen. As they are Revit 3d he is now happy to do so, but I acknowledge his concerns.

The whole point of detailed 3d designs is to share drawings and have one set of common information. The big companies do it and it works.

 

Any consultant should be happy to share their drawings....it is a concern if they don't trust their own work.

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1 hour ago, saveasteading said:

The design is yours. You commissioned and paid for it. 

Presumably you eventually got the drawings, but were they any use for the other parties?

 

I (as Engineer and contractor) have had clients' architects erase all dimensions before handing over. 

Also many errors in both draughting and in being buildable.

 

In any case we would always redraw in 3d as you have little idea if the drawings are correct.

 

This was rightly an issue on our current 'Buildhub self-build'. Our appointed SE would not commit to using our Architect's drawings until seen. As they are Revit 3d he is now happy to do so, but I acknowledge his concerns.

The whole point of detailed 3d designs is to share drawings and have one set of common information. The big companies do it and it works.

 

Any consultant should be happy to share their drawings....it is a concern if they don't trust their own work.

As an engineer I bet you have altered quite a few Architects drawings 

Ours immediately altered our roof design 

 

A good SE is a must 

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A good Architect can see things better in 3d, but surprisingly few can.

Yes, I have been called a philistine many a time, for questioning how something is meant to be built...physics or funds not having being considered.

 

15 minutes ago, nod said:

As an engineer I bet you have altered quite a few Architects drawings 

 

Can you do this for 2/3  or half the cost of the quotes we have received? Yes but we have to start from scratch, and we will not work with the previous team who did this for you....pay them off.

With Engineers there is more interest and willingness to discuss efficient ways of doing things (my contractor half of brain)

 

BUT it is great working as a proper team with a skilled and interested Engineer and/or Architect. Challenges can become opportunities and still look good, or better.

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2 hours ago, saveasteading said:

The design is yours. You commissioned and paid for it.

Legally, the design and the copyright remain the Architect's, unless the standard conditions of appointment have been explicitly changed.

However - provided the architect has been paid as agreed - the person commissioning the architect will have at least an implicit licence permitting them and others working on the building to reproduce and use the drawings as necessary to construct the building.

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23 minutes ago, Mike said:

an implicit licence

Correct, thanks for reminding me. The designer remains the designer and nobody can, in theory, copy it.

The owner can use the drawings for anything to do with the building, now or future, but can't necessarily build another the same...that would be interesting....or use extracts for another project.

 

In theory designers are entitled to put their name visibly on the project, as seen at the centre of big Victorian bridges. But I have never had a client who would accept this.

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4 hours ago, Jilly said:

The whole thing is a very expensive business. I went with an expensive architect who got planning for me, but wanted a high budget so we parted ways. Can your favoured architect work with your budget or are they very wedded to high end? I have done some things cheaper but have also wasted plenty without her guidance. If you are a rookie, the whole thing is a steep learning curve.  I engaged my own structural engineer rather than using the 2nd architect's (technician for BC) preferred one and there was a stroppy, toys out of pram moment about sharing the the CAD diagrams.  I've ended up spending much more on renting due to delays. All the best. 

Thanks. @Jilly Just for the design in isolation: was it worth paying more for a premium design (assuming from a premium Architect)?

 

The terms with my architect suggest that 3D design external view front and rear would be done but I am not sure why has it not included internal 3D images. Is it normal to do internal 3D views using CGI or other means.

 

I would need to ensure that my self build plan which is particularly unique (discussed under separate post) and budget is in line with architect's view as I would not want to change the architect half way through. I dont want to appoint a turnkey builder but need to appoint the individual sub trades but not sure if Architect would feel this within the scope of tendering as it increase the work he need to do to get the quotes.

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It probably would have been worth it as she was good, but I didn't have a reference point, so I felt she was expensive. I can't remember the full details, but I think  she was charging 12% of the budget plus all the other fees on top and I think it was about 20% overall. See if you can speak to other customers.

 

It's common for self builders to get the superstructure built and then employ the trades themselves. Some architects are also excellent interior designers, so it depends what you want/budget and whether form or function is more important to you. 

 

I don't know about 3D, maybe it helps with planning permission for a very striking build?

 

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2 hours ago, Jilly said:

It probably would have been worth it as she was good, but I didn't have a reference point, so I felt she was expensive. I can't remember the full details, but I think  she was charging 12% of the budget plus all the other fees on top and I think it was about 20% overall. See if you can speak to other customers.

 

Thanks for your reply. Much appreciated. The percentages you have quoted does put it in perspective and tells me 15k is not huge comparatively. Based on 20% if the house is 450sqm the build cost at 2000per sqm would be 900k and 20% of that is 180k. Now for an architect to charge this much (if I am right in my understanding) is huge sum. Have I understood correctly? 15k is nothing comparatively. And 5-10k appears peanuts.

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8 hours ago, saveasteading said:

Has he listed everything included? If he is Chartered then this is likely to be a standard schedule by RIBA.

Plus you would want some explanation of his thoughts on your project.

 

 

 

RIBAPOW2020jpg.jpg?rev=b4e2adb3c1534c0faea951e8dcea35f5&h=495&w=700&la=en&hash=5DE3D917B6D5EC00FF523D6659E73EB3

Thanks @saveasteading. Thats very helpful. I dont think he is RIBA registered. I cant find any mention on his site and he has not sent me any schedule as mentioned in your comment. I have searched him on RIBA website but he is not there. Is that really important? Or is experience and track record more important? This has made me slightly unsure of my choice.

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You don't get RIBA lightly. 7 years and some rigorous exams that include contract administration and law.

Somebody without it could be as experience but you would find out by reference.

 

Re fees try this as a guide.  

 

https://www.bparchitecture.co.uk/downloads/arch_fees/RIBA_Fee_guide_Graphs.pdf

 

I suggest probe hard re build budget and ask what is not included. I have known jobs that were double the client's fixed budget at tender. Oh but I didn't include services, other consultants, externals  etc. One where I said the job was gong over budget, he relied that the client always finds more money..so I walked away.

But yours might be wonderful, good luck.

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8 hours ago, Zak S said:

Thanks for your reply. Much appreciated. The percentages you have quoted does put it in perspective and tells me 15k is not huge comparatively. Based on 20% if the house is 450sqm the build cost at 2000per sqm would be 900k and 20% of that is 180k. Now for an architect to charge this much (if I am right in my understanding) is huge sum. Have I understood correctly? 15k is nothing comparatively. And 5-10k appears peanuts.

Yup, she works on very luxury budgets and projects manages them too, so she prefers not to have clients who worry about money.

 

As  Saveasteading has said, you need to clarify things properly, there are always hidden/not hidden extras. You might need many things like ground surveys, Ecology, SuDS etc etc  which could be put on as extras by the planning department as conditions. Non of this will be covered by the architect's fees.You will also need building control drawings, or more likely construction drawings and structural engineer's calculations. It's hard to advise you of an exact price, which is part of the risk you are taking. eg I know someone who spent £20k on fees and didn't actually get planning permission... I have spent more than £25k on fees (£6k in total on bats!) for a tiny 80m2 stable conversion. The build itself can be hugely variable, especially the ground conditions. Also the price of materials has been affected by Covid in the last couple of years which has stuffed many budgets. 

 

It does stand to reason tho' that if you are expecting a luxury, up market result, you will need to invest in the right people and it's unlikely to be cheap. You don't want an architect whose main experience is doing extensions, they are not all created equal (and some are excellent, but not architects, in the sense of the protected title). And it's true, once you are committed and the price goes up, you do just have to pay. I'm sad that most of my money has gone and after all the pain, I might end up with B & Q fittings ? 

 

Keep asking and researching. See other discussions about how we self builders don't always add the same things in when letting on how much everything cost. 

 

 

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I'd negotiate a break point at the PP granted stage. For our 400m2 demolish and rebuild in Berkshire, this was about £5k back in 2015.

 

This is where their local knowledge and experience will pay most dividends, from there on it's more generic.

 

We went solo post planning as our architect had little experience of basements or low energy build and was only really prepared to do a traditional set of drawings (block & block) plus discharge planning conditions etc for a further £15k. As we were planning on using a TF company, they would have just recycled the detailed drawings from that firm which in themselves were adequate for BR.

 

However it was amicable and they popped round occasionally to see how we were doing, helped us out with a few referrals (groundworks, BC etc...). We also got the CAD but once the TF drawings were issued, they became the reference. Most trades just estimated off the planning PDF. 

 

Do you have a particular build methodology or performance requirement (passive etc)? Are they experienced in this? Many architects are surprisingly traditional in approach to build fabric irrespective of how impressive their designs are.

 

You sound quite hands on already, organising surveys etc, so I'm sure you'd be capable of PM - if so, a full tender exercise is kind of pointless, better to invest in a solid QS estimate once your detailed design is available.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Bitpipe said:

Do you have a particular build methodology or performance requirement (passive etc)? Are they experienced in this? Many architects are surprisingly traditional in approach to build fabric irrespective of how impressive their designs are.

 

You sound quite hands on already, organising surveys etc, so I'm sure you'd be capable of PM - if so, a full tender exercise is kind of pointless, better to invest in a solid QS

 

 

Great piece of advice. I am not sure if discharging planning condition is included in it. Probably not. That made me think again!

 

On method of construction: I am just not sure about the passive house or TF as it seems more expensive than brick and blocks though it more thermally efficient. Hence I am currently considering blocks and bricks build as it would be easy to find trades people. Also someone mentioned to me thermal mass of blocks and brick is an advantage in addition to cost to build. 

 

Cost for planning and design without building regs is 7500 plus he had loads of experience in the area working for self builder as well as developers. We are based between Warwick and Birmingham. On that basis 7.5k seems reasonable and then 8.5 for building regs and construction drawing.

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28 minutes ago, Zak S said:

On method of construction: I am just not sure about the passive house or TF as it seems more expensive than brick and blocks though it more thermally efficient. Hence I am currently considering blocks and bricks build as it would be easy to find trades people. Also someone mentioned to me thermal mass of blocks and brick is an advantage in addition to cost to build. 

 

You can build well with any method. The main things to get your designer to Consider are external wall thickness (400mm minimum). Avoiding lots of impossible to detail junctions . Form factor (ratio of surface area to floor area) and appropriate glazing. 

 

Many architects whilst having a great eye for design and utility are still in the "oil era" of efficiency and comfort. Great low energy architects are available too. 

 

Poor professionals or trades aren't worth taking for free, very good ones are worth what ever they charge. 

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7 hours ago, Zak S said:

Great piece of advice. I am not sure if discharging planning condition is included in it. Probably not. That made me think again!

 

On method of construction: I am just not sure about the passive house or TF as it seems more expensive than brick and blocks though it more thermally efficient. Hence I am currently considering blocks and bricks build as it would be easy to find trades people. Also someone mentioned to me thermal mass of blocks and brick is an advantage in addition to cost to build. 

 

Cost for planning and design without building regs is 7500 plus he had loads of experience in the area working for self builder as well as developers. We are based between Warwick and Birmingham. On that basis 7.5k seems reasonable and then 8.5 for building regs and construction drawing.

 

Thermal mass is a myth. Forget that.

 

As said above, you can build passive / low energy standard in any style and with any fabric from ICF to TF to brick & block. Very good insulation, thermally efficient design (no cold bridges), high levels of airtightness, MVHR etc are key. Standard building regs are not ambitious and you can do so much better with minimal or no extra cost.

 

The trade off with TF vs blocks is the cost ratio between materials and labour and the speed of build. The latter may be a factor if you're living in expensive rented while the build happens. That said, the building shell is only ever about 20% of the cost - everything else from there on is the same.

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21 hours ago, Zak S said:

currently considering blocks and bricks build as it would be easy to find trades people

This is a very important point.  You will almost certainly find that the good trades are booked up and expensive.

But having said that, some TF companies will arrange to do most of the initial work, and that is where the important thermal details are achieved.

Apart from the nonsense about 'thermal mass', and we have loads of debates about it and the zombie refuses to die, all you are trying to achieve is an airtight box with low thermal conductivity.  Not hard to achieve intellectually, just that detail and longevity of material interfaces can ruin it.  Having said that, the Space Station has been floating about (actually constantly accelerating) for nearly a quarter of a century, and they keep adding extensions to it, but not by Bob the Builder.

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