Workstages + guidance on fees

Engaging an Architect is the first major step to undertaking construction works.

With a minimum of 7 years of training coupled with mandatory experience in the field, an Architect is the only person qualified to assist you in this ever- changing and highly regulated field of work.

Building projects can often be years in the making and encompass some or all of the following work stages:

Initial consultation + site meeting

The very first meeting allows a client and Architect to meet and establish the extent of work the project entails.

Usually held at our studio, this meeting is important to give the client an understanding of the processes involved in a project. It also allows the design team to understand the scope of work the project requires and the desired level of services the client wishes the practice to undertake.

We appreciate that sometimes it’s just ideas you want and that direct input from a design professional is not always easy to find, but also that not every project will come to fruition. In these scenarios on-site consultations can be arranged, chargeable in advance, the fee is redeemable against the Feasibility Stage upon appointment.

raum provides you with an insight into the potential of your project and clear direction about how to proceed moving forwards, noting any relevant planning aspects which may provide opportunity/restriction within the project.

The outline brief and initial budget is established at this meeting, and this will assist in accurately pricing the services required and providing the client with a fee proposal for the Feasibility Stage.

Feasibility (RIBA stages 0-2)

The Feasibility commences upon the agreement with the architect’s fee proposal, confirmed in writing through a recognized standard appointment document and the payment of 50% of the stage fee.

The Feasibility analyses the existing site conditions in terms of scale, sun path, boundaries, topographical arrangement. A topographical survey (completed by a third party) is usually required to ensure we have completely accurate information.  The site is recorded through photographs and is balanced against the project brief to develop design concepts. These explore the realization of the new /altered building in the site context noting proposed external materials, interior plan arrangements and interior design concepts which follow throughout the process with the architecture and finally we look at whole project costs for what has been proposed. This information is collated in a document through images, diagrams, plans and visuals.

Upon completion of the presentation and with a confirmed design approach in place, fees for Stage 3 works onward will be confirmed. We then agree timescales to progress the project and the further stage payments are invoiced.

Planning (RIBA stage 3)

The Feasibility proposal is conveyed into accurate drawings incorporating any modifications taken on board as a response to the Feasibility. The current required documentation for an application includes a full set of floor plans, elevations, site plan and location plan all drawn to scale, a design and access statement and any other local validation requirements set out by the Local Authority. This is submitted with the appropriate fee to the Local Authority for consideration.

Seeking planning permission should never be treated as a box-ticking exercise, so be wary of anyone offering “drawings to get you through planning” rather than expert advice looking at all aspects of the situation.

If the proposal is considered contentious, it is recommended to undertake a pre-submission consultation or seek pre-submission advice with the relevant case officer.

Factors highlighted in this process can be adopted or countered in the submission documentation. The target decision date for a standard planning application is 8 weeks, this is not always met. Occasionally, under certain specific circumstances, works can be undertaken without requiring planning permission. This is termed ‘permitted development’, though to confirm that the proposal meets these guidelines it is highly recommended that the same documentation is submitted for a certificate of lawful development which works in a similar method to a planning application though at half the application cost and a considerably shorter timescale.

Fees for this stage are again split 50% upon commencement and 50% prior to submission.

Unfortunately planning approval cannot be guaranteed, sometimes a compromise on size, scale, features etc may have to be made in order to secure approval. All avenues will be considered and the closest marrying of the brief and acceptability under planning policy will be met.

Technical Design -
Building Regulations and Production Information (RIBA stages 4.1+4.2)

This stage is about preparing a complete set of documentation from which the contractor or builder can construct the project. This is the ‘instruction manual for the build’, upon completion of this stage there should be very few unanswered questions about the execution of works. Consequently, the collation of information makes for an accurate pricing pack for tender. 

The information generally collated for this stage consists of 1:50 general arrangement plans, elevations,sections, component drawings of specific elements (such as bespoke stair and joinery design),1:20 room layouts for bathrooms noting specific product references, 1:5 details of critical junctions as necessary, schedule of works and detailed specification of interior and exterior materials.

 Once completed, the technical set of information is issued for statutory Building Control Approval. There are essentially three options with Building Control, below they are listed in order of preference in relation to certainty of information;

1. Local Authority Full Plans approval

2. Approved Inspector Plan check and site inspections

3. Building Notice with the Local Authority

Full Plans Approval requires a complete drawing and schedule submission, for new-build dwellings SAP / CFSH energy rating calculations will be required as well as an Air Pressure test upon completion. Any structural works will need to be calculated and submitted for final approval, requiring the services of a Structural Engineer.

Approved Inspector submission would most likely match the documentation of a Full Plans submission, however, it would only be subject to a plan check before commencing work. The site visits may highlight some unresolved items though Approved Inspectors often consider parallel legislation to resolve problems.

A Building Notice would normally be submitted by a contractor in order to commence work almost instantaneously but the site inspections may bring up some difficult unforeseen issues which require design, specification or even budget changes whilst on site and incurring building costs.

Tender (RIBA stage 4.2)

Having produced all the work and decided on the preferred procurement method for the project, this is the stage that allows you to obtain costs on the open market. There are again a couple of options with procuring a project. Traditionally, and relative to the scale of the project a client would opt for either a negotiated tender (with one preferred contractor) or a competitive tender (pitting contractors against each other through a controlled cost submission route. This is largely dependent on the complexity of the project, the competence of the contractor and the confidence of the client.

A negotiated tender would normally make use of the Quantity Surveyors expertise to analyze the single cost estimate, or indeed produce one for them and if after some negotiations, efficiencies, all parties are happy with the quotation a contract would be drawn up. A competitive tender invites 2-4 contractors to submit a quotation for the works and through a study of those submissions and bearing in mind any caveats or substitutions, the client then selects a contractor with whom they would enter into a contract.

Construction Administration
(RIBA stages 5-6)

With an agreed quotation for the works, the client and the contractor sign a contract to that effect. The client agrees to pay the agreed price and the contractor to deliver the building fully as proposed.

The site supervision stage is generally the enforcement of the contract with regular valuations of the work, inspections to see that the specification is being adhered to and refining and resolving any aspects that arise during the construction.

Interior Design

We place a great deal of importance on how interior spaces reflect our architectural style from the very early concept designs right through to tender issue. The design detailing and choice of finishes and fittings that we include as standard into our work naturally leans towards a certain aesthetic that complements the overall design.

We also offer various standalone interior packages for new and existing properties (non raum projects) that can be flexible to suit your requirements. These range from a 2 hour site consultation, single/multiple room designs, through standalone interior services.

Interior services start at £350 + VAT.

Build Costs

Per/m² build costs vary mainly with specification and build methodology.  They also change with market trends, location and availability of contractors. Homebuilding and Renovating magazine regularly issue revised market rates for differing project types those these are dependent on the same above factors. Costs can range from a very simple shell at £2000/m², to a good spec at £3000/m² and beyond.

Generally, extensions and works to an existing house are subject to the full current VAT rate however there are some exceptions to this such as properties that have been vacant for a certain period. New-build houses (which includes replacement dwellings) are currently 0% VAT rated. There is a threshold when works to an existing property exceed the cost of its complete replacement.

Guidance on Fees

Percentage fees are historically the method in which Architectural Services are based. These would reflect an initial estimate of the contract value (net construction cost) and are adjusted to reflect the actual costs as work progresses. Ordinarily the initial Feasibility stage is not included within a percentage fee, nor the Architect acting as lead consultant, interior designer or CDM coordinator and an additional fee would be charged on top for these.

raum believe this approach not only falls hugely short of project required deliverables and roles, but also disincentivizes any budgetary efficiency as the fees increase with inflated contract values.

raum strive to clearly determine the extent of work necessary for each project at the initial consultation stage and so frequently issue a fixed fee structure post Feasibility Stage when the design concept has been agreed. The following is a guide to the order of fees raum would charge for the various project stages;

• RIBA stages 0-2 Feasibility; from £2000 for straightforward reconfigurations/extensions up to £5000 for an average size new build dwellings

• RIBA stages 3 Planning; from £4500 for modest extensions up to £12,000 for an average size new build dwelling

• RIBA stages 4 Technical; from £7000 for modest extensions up to £15,000 for an average size new build dwelling

• RIBA stages 5-6 Construction + handover; typically we undertake these stages on an hourly rate basis with itemized monthly invoices.

Where works prove to be unquantifiable (which includes the contract administration stage) raum work on a project hourly rate, and only undertake that which is truly necessary and in the interests of the project.

VAT is chargeable on professional fees irrespective of whether it is due as part of the construction contract or not.

Conditions on appointment

raum make use of simple letter appointments for straightforward works.  For insurances purposes, a signed appointment will be required before any work is undertaken. Fees are due 50% prior to commencement, 50% upon completion of each stage. More complicated appointments would employ the use of a standard RIBA appointment contract.

On most projects the input from other professional consultants or specialists is necessary, e.g. Structural Engineers, Topographical Surveyors, and occasionally input from others is also necessary e.g. Ecologists, Arboriculturalists. Architects fees exclude other consultants / specialists and a separate appointment would be made between a client and the relevant third party. However, raum acting as lead consultant ordinarily advise on the potential need for other consultants as early as possible, and will aid in the appropriate selection, appointment scope and terms, and will also filter and direct project appropriate correspondence on a client’s behalf.