Can An Architect Keep Raising His Fee Ad Infinitum?
Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:19 PM
Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:29 PM
I would be inclined to ask them for a breakdown of their fees, and then, if you cannot reconcile these with the work done, take it up with RIBA.
Edited by joiner, 05 March 2015 - 06:35 AM.
typo ('could' for 'cold'
Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:33 PM
and they wonder why some of us don't have the highest opinion of architects.
Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:57 PM
I had a smilar issue with my build. I started discussions with the architect about a budget of X - we got some tenders and they were 170% of the budget. This seemed rediculous as that was working out something like £2600/sqm. The architect then suggested we paid for our own QS to cost up the project - and they came back with an even higher figure - over £3000/sqm! It was a total joke - to this day I'm not sure if it was incompetence or outright collusion between the architects, QS, and contractors to try to persuade fleece us. They tried to tell us if we wanted to spend less on a house we would have to look at compromises like having chipboard flooring. ffs - makes me angry again even after several years!
Anyway - the point of that rant I got caught up in - is during all that the architect tried to get us to pay a stage payment - and he based it on the 2X number. We said absolutely no way. In the end we agreed to up the budget about 15% and paid him on that basis thereafter.
To make things worse - the QS's numbers somehow got spread around the local contractors rumour mill - and we couldn't get a sensible price out of any of them after that - they all assumed we were their winning lottery ticket. So we ended up having to manage the project ourselves rather than use a main contractor.
In fact - after that the architect didn't really have any involvement in the financial side of things - and had no clue what we actually spent. We could have used some creative accounting and tried to screw him by claiming a low build cost. In the end the real build cost was probably about the same as the figure he had been using to bill us (original budget+15%). We paid him on that.
But getting back to my rant - the final build was massively higher spec than we were originally aiming for when the tender went out and QS reported. Many things we decided to do much more expensively - and I'm sure we got screwed left right and center - and it was still a fraction of what they had claimed! Ahhhggg!!!!
Good luck .
p.s. make sure you do architect fee calcs based on build cost - not total cost. ie doesn't include any professional fees, insurance, VAT, any project costs not involving the build (landscaping etc), furniture, etc etc... There is room to wiggle here - ie is the kitchen a build item or a furniture item? A CCTV system? etc etc.
Posted 04 March 2015 - 08:07 PM
Posted 04 March 2015 - 08:21 PM
Clearly this meant learning a lot about design, building regs, etc, but even so I think that the total time I spent in researching and then producing all the drawings needed for planning, building regs, tendering, systems design and layout etc. All told I think I spent around 1500 hours working on doing all this, from start to finish. This included making a number of scale models to illustrate to SWMBO the design options at each stage, and a smaller scale whole site scale model, using the topographic survey data, and tendering for the ground works, main house construction etc.
At a guess, a trained professional should be able to do this much work in far less time, perhaps 300 to 400 hours at the very most.
Now, assuming that my time is worth £30 per hour, then, based on the time I actually spent the cost should have been around £45k. However, the vast majority of my time was spent trying to learn stuff that takes an architect 7 years to around a year. Using a more realistic architects time of around 350 hours at £30 per hour, then the fees should have been a more reasonable £10,500, which seems pretty reasonable for a 130m2 house with some fairly modest challenges and a fairly simple design.
In reality, architects seem to go into a LOT less detail than I did, and don't seem to integrate well with engineers or systems installers, so I think my DIY approach was probably "better" and may well have speeded up our gettiing PP for an unusual house in a demanding location.
Edited by joiner, 05 March 2015 - 06:39 AM.
Posted 04 March 2015 - 08:24 PM
Posted 04 March 2015 - 09:09 PM
Certainly I wouldn't pay them on the inflated amount.
If you do pay them any more - make sure you get written agreement that you own the plans they have done. Otherwise you can get into a weird situation where you have paid them to produce plans - but he owns the intellectual property on them - and you can't use or pass them onto another designer if you fall out or decide not proceed with them. In fact get electronic copies of the CAD files so another designer could take over the project with minimum rework.
Personally I think you do need an architect (or project manager) - but you need a good one. Unless you are very knowledgable in all kinds of construction issues its very difficult to do it without help.
Edited by reddal, 04 March 2015 - 09:09 PM.
Posted 04 March 2015 - 09:09 PM
Came to about £6k for the house and garage including structural calcs, topographical survey and preliminary SAP report. Outline submission was another £750.
Posted 04 March 2015 - 10:14 PM
But before you do... There's a few things to check
Check your initial appointment with the architect, are there services that were not completed (sketch designs etc) that you could claim back on or alternatively has the architect done more work than the original contract?
What if any explanation has been given for this increased cost? Anything unusual, risky or specialist in the proposed design/contract that might have pushed the cost up?
Awkward site access or other constraints?
Over What sort of time period was the design and tender under taken, months or a year+?
Was the brief altered or changed, either directly by the client or following receipt of addition information, structural report or the like? Did planning department request any changes.
Is it work to redesign an existing building or redesign of a set of plans for a new build?
Are there areas of work that would have been unexpected or unknown during the design stage?
Have you considered re-tendering to a number of alternative contractors?
One of the above might not add much to a project but when you start adding them together.....
I had one job that the return tender cost was higher than expected, and I got a lot of pressure from the client for an explanation. It ended up that all the contractors had very high preliminary costs..... Due to the site location (N.Ireland) insurances where very high.
Regarding fees, the RIBA has a fee guide, renovations/ existing buildings are usually more tricky and a higher fee would be normal, but usually the more services covered will attract more fees.
Architects like any other business can charge what they like or what they feel they are worth, reading through my old business lecture notes, fees for any business are calculated as 1/3 1/3 1/3. Time spent on project, overheads/non earning staff/insurance etc, and profit.
Edited by joiner, 05 March 2015 - 06:41 AM.
Posted 05 March 2015 - 06:31 AM
Large scale historic renovations, unpredictable sites or out there designs are another matter. But for the majority of self build home and renovations the projects tend to be quite straight forward. But as archmoco said, architectural design practices can charge what they feel they are worth, Its up to the client to ensure that they understand what they are signing up to.
Posted 05 March 2015 - 08:42 AM
So the question boils down to 12% of what?
We have just had exactly this discussion with our architect. We agreed a sensible compromise based on the way in which Sam (the architect) normally works and the way we anticipate the job will run.
Our QS had just given us a fantasy figure for the build based on what was called a feasibility exercise. Sam knew that the QS estimate was way in excess of our budget. The consequence of acceptance of that feasibility study for us would have been to pay Sam about double what we expected to pay for architects fees.
So, maybe meeting your architect and talking it through would be a good idea. The only people who win from legal processes are lawyers. Do everything you can to avoid the added hassle and cost of going to law.
Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:00 AM
Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:31 AM
BUT the fee was entirely based on the architect's estimate of the build costs at the beginning, not what they've actually been (miles over - we had what turned out to be expensive design ideas...). As we've been project managing, how would he know anyway?
IMO if you're doing the whole package - architect, QS, main contractor - you should be going for a fixed price with the contractor. You pay the fees up-front and accept that the main contractor will price it to account for contingencies in exchange for peace of mind as the build goes ahead.
Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:43 AM
Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:52 AM
Posted 05 March 2015 - 11:42 AM
Posted 05 March 2015 - 02:39 PM
Our block layers took longer than expected, I think due to the extra work in doing the inner leaf in 140mm soap bars and the stone mason finished about three weeks behind when he said he would, but I put that down to him working short days, taking leisurely breaks and not working a full week. I'm sure our budget would be struggling if we had taken anyone on at day rates.
We had a quote starting at £16k from an architect who is the main judge on the (NI) "House of the Year" programme, but this was based on 85m2 less than we ended up with and his additional time is billed at £150/hr. An 8hr day could get expensive and we didn't even see what the figures could have been for project management...
Edited by slidersx200, 05 March 2015 - 02:40 PM.
Posted 05 March 2015 - 07:59 PM
In fact, you'd have thought he ought to be giving you something back, as he's got the figures so wrong.