Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby pauldocherty » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:49 pm

I want to build a house of around 1,800 square feet. The architect I spoke to has quoted me 10% of expected build cost (40K) for design, drawings, planning, project mgmt. Is this a fair amount these days? I have no idea how much work is involved.

Maybe it's impossible to say without seeing the plans - all I can say is the house design is not very elaborate or adventurous. I just want it finished well.

Also he says that 15K will be due for the lodging of planning permission. Is this a fair proportion at such an early stage?

Do architects ever work for a success fee contingent on obtaining planning permission? eg half the fee for lodging the application and the other half afterwards?

If I ask other architects to bid, do I have to pay for their drawings?
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby DOC » Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:02 am

Hi pauldocherty - would be good to know what part of the country you are in?

10% would be a realtively fair fee for the entire service start to finish.

Just bear in mind that overall construction prices have probably dropped 20 to 30% in the last year or so, therefore in may ways, what you will pay the architect will reflect the more competetice construction costs/current climate. The amount of work has not changed!

The key thing is get references!!!

Half fees up to planning, to me, sounds a bit loaded?
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby goneill » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:09 am

10% is marginally above average according to an RIAI survey, although many firms charge that and more - up to 15%. Others charge as little as 4% and a few even 2% but what they do for that I cannot imagine. If you like the architect and what he has done for you, I would say 10% is a fair price. It is normal to charge 35% of the overall fee for making a planning application, so again, €15k seems about right for that. To offer the architect only half of the fee due for making that application, is effectively asking him to take a punt on whether you will get planning permission. That may or may not be fair depending on the circumstances. if for example he has advised you that you will get permission in dodgy circumstances due to his great skill, then it might be. On the other hand, if the application is a straightforward one in accordance with the development plan and with no revolting neighbours, then all you are really doing is asking him to let you defer payment. In these times he might give in - but is it reasonable? The most important thing, as DOC says, is to see some of his built work and talk to their owners.
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby pauldocherty » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:54 am

Thanks to both of you for your helpful replies.

DOC wrote:Hi pauldocherty - would be good to know what part of the country you are in?
Dublin

Just bear in mind that overall construction prices have probably dropped 20 to 30% in the last year or so, therefore in may ways, what you will pay the architect will reflect the more competetice construction costs/current climate. The amount of work has not changed!
I hadn't thought of this - his fee will have dropped in line with build costs. Sadly for me, my income has also dropped in the past year by a third for the same volume of work.

I still don't like the idea that he has a financial incentive to maximise the cost of my house at the design stage. Our motivations in this case are not in sync.

goneill wrote:To offer the architect only half of the fee due for making that application, is effectively asking him to take a punt on whether you will get planning permission.
I want him to carry some risk because I am also carrying risk at this stage that depends on his performance in producing an acceptable plan for the local authority. A rejected plan is of no value and may even hinder future planning applications.
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby missarchi » Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:44 pm

pauldocherty wrote: his performance in producing an acceptable plan for the local authority.


I'm afraid that these rarely exist... there is not a clear cut acceptable plan in most cases...
and then there are your requirements... and the authority above authority...

and then the high court:D
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby goneill » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:38 pm

Personally I have never sought to increase the cost of a project, but I wasn't long learning that clients rarely forgive you for skimping. Most architects are happy to work for a fixed fee - provided the scope of the work is also fixed. Funnily enough it is usually the canny client who, having agreed a fixed fee, then wants to implement changes and/or additions to the project without paying for the architect's extra time. Often these are other professionals who practically have stop watches on their own desks for the purpose of calculating fees! If the planning system operated in a predictable way it would be reasnonable to expect an architect to produce a design that obtains permission. But it doesn't - it is a complete lottery (see the number of decisions that are overturned by the Bord, or where Bord inspector's recommendations are disregarded by the Bord). In those circumstances it is hardly fair to expect anyone to place a bet on your speculation. You are not, after all, proposing to give additional reward to your architect if he does succeed!
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby teak » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:39 pm

This is outrageous, man.

For a designing house it should be on a per square foot basis.
Other things like (the inevitable . . .) discussions with the local council planner depends on the time and extent of the debating.
But I cannot see it going as high as the figure quoted.
Maybe you'd be wise to adopt a gradualist approach to the house building.
That is, first focus on getting outline planning permission.
This allows you to build a particular kind of house on the site that you own.
Getting outline planning permission is something you do not need an architect for.
But you'll need a civil engineer's report on the percolation test & related matters.
Also the site layout, site sections, sewage treatment layout and related notes need to be prepared by a competent civil engineering draughtsperson.
I paid €400 for the civ eng for the perc test plus report. €50 for the JCB to dig the 8 metre trench. I did most of the draughting myself but got them transferred to AutoCAD and printed for < €100. €20 for the hire of a laser-level for an evening's measuring the heights through and across the site for the site section diagram. Also ~ €40 for plastic pipes, paint + ropes to erect sighting poles at the putative gables.

But before filling in your outline planning permission application, do go and get a pre-planning meeting with the planner for the area of your site.
This should tell you your best route to a successful outline PP application.
Also look at the types of houses in the same area that have got permission recently.

Best wishes and prayers.
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby wearnicehats » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:56 pm

There's hardly a day goes by without someone posting the same question re hiring an architect. Search the threads and read the previous ones - I'm usually in there trying to explain it to someone who ignores it anyway because they're not prepared to put their hands in their pockets. You'll probably get some poor unemployed sod willing to do a nice job for minimum wage anyway.

pay peanuts, get monkeys

apologies - sick of the economy, the profession and the general malaise of life.
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby missarchi » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:37 am

wearnicehats wrote:There's hardly a day goes by without someone posting the same question re hiring an architect. Search the threads and read the previous ones - I'm usually in there trying to explain it to someone who ignores it anyway because they're not prepared to put their hands in their pockets. You'll probably get some poor unemployed sod willing to do a nice job for minimum wage anyway.

pay peanuts, get monkeys

apologies - sick of the economy, the profession and the general malaise of life.


pay peanuts get monkeys going ape shit;)
There is a clear line where something is not worth your time...
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby The Willinator » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:56 pm

42% unemployed architects.

If he is charging you 10%, he is clearly not that interested in getting your custom or else he is shit hot and knows he can charge 10% - Your choice whether you select him.

If you are not looking for "grand designs" shop around and don't pay anyone over 6%.

That is the new world order.
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Re: Looking for advice about hiring an architect

Postby wearnicehats » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:33 pm

The Willinator wrote:.

That is the new world order.


might be on your planet
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