A lot of us thought that we had our minds made up on how we wanted the house.
But then when talking it through with an architect, a share of other possibilities
presented themselves -- many of them being better ideas than ours.
So be prepared for some new ideas.
Prices for architects vary a bit, according to the sort/scale of work they normally do.
I suppose that the present trading climate will favour you a bit, but there is a decent
limit below which no architect would go.
For your type of job, I'd be inclined to go for a 1 architect practice.
The only way to get the real estimate is to go around to some architects and have
the "strictly general/no commitment" discussion, for which you ought pay them for their time.
On the cost to getting FPP : I'd expect a total charge of ~ €5,000 plus whatever added
costs, e.g. planning fees, civ engineer's percolation reports, photography, printing copies,
landscaping plan / details, etc, that the architect would pay on your behalf.
On the construction stage : For a reasonably straightforward 1,500 sq ft house the fees
for the progress drawings ought be readily estimable by the architect.
You say that you want to make sure that the build runs smoothly.
This is primarily down to a good choice of builder.
No architect could (or would pretend to) save your house from a bad builder.
So spare no effort in finding out who built which house in your locality and pick the best
builder, even if you have to wait a bit for him to finish previous jobs and come to your job.
Get opinions of (friendly and discreet) old fellas in the locality.
As you go around looking at houses being built, look at the details.
Avoid builders of houses with dog-rough blockwork, poor mitres, nails missing the joists,
squeaky stairs, etc etc.
If you are going the timber frame route, look at the various TF houses near your site.
Get a good few quotes and ask for the detailing drawings to be emailed on to your arch.
Discuss any differing structural detail selections offered by the quoting TF companies
with your architect and make a choice that allows house modification later if desired.
Ideally do everything you can to be there on site during building.