Whether you consider a loft conversion, extension, renovation or new build house as your construction project; then, using an architect will ensure you have a building that looks good, integrates with the local area plan and complies with the relevant building regulations.
But, how will their fees affect the overall project price?
Generally, architect costs depend on the type and size of the project. Furthermore, the architect might charge by fixed fees, a percentage of the overall price, or less commonly, by an hourly rate.
Bearing this in mind, architects price their work between £750 and £8,000, depending on the work involved. However, as this is a wide range, we’ll narrow it down when considering the different projects later in this guide.
Generally, we don’t always need an architect to draw up plans for building work. However, suppose your project alters the appearance of your property or affects the overall structural loading. In these cases, you will need an architect to complete the relevant paperwork, provide planning application drawings, and liaise with the planning authority.
Architects know the relevant rules regarding planning permission in your area and the broader national regulations. Moreover, they provide planning permission drawings and will complete the appropriate documentation suitable for a planning application. Also, they offer construction drawings that a builder must follow to ensure building regulation compliance. Furthermore, an architect can also act as a project manager to monitor costs and the project timeline.
How Much Do Architects Cost?*
Different construction projects attract various pricing structures. The table below shows typical architect fees based on these scenarios. The lower end of the range covers only the architect’s drawings for a small project. In contrast, the upper end deals with the full range of architectural services. However, depending on the design of the loft conversion, you might not need planning permission.
We compiled the architect prices shown below from various online resources; they were correct at the time of publication (October 2021). You will also find that prices vary depending on the region of the UK where the architect is based. The cost of architects in London and southeast England can be 20% higher than in other areas.
Although we only show an architect’s professional fees, you could use an architectural technician for this work. An architect qualifies after a seven-year degree course, whereas a technician completes a four-year apprenticeship.
|Project type||Scope of tasks||Lowest average cost (architect)||Highest average cost (architect)|
|Loft conversion||Planning Permission Only||£1,000||£1,500|
|Planning Permission, Building Regs & Construction Drawings||£1,500||£2,000|
|One storey extension||Planning Permission Only||£1,000||£2,500|
|Planning Permission, Building Regs & Construction Drawings||£3,000||£5,000|
|Two storey extension||Planning Permission Only||£2,000||£3,500|
|Planning Permission, Building Regs & Construction Drawings||£4,000||£6,000|
Alternatively, an architect might charge a fee based on a percentage of the total project value. In this case, the proportion set might range from 5% to 12%.
Architect Cost Factors
Architect charges will vary depending on many factors, which we’ll discuss in this section.
- Is the project a new build or an extension? An extension must interact with an existing building. Therefore, the costs will be far more than a new-build house.
- The complexity of the project affects the prices considerably. For example, a simple one-storey new-build bungalow costs far less than a complicated two-storey wrap-around extension.
- Do you live in a listed building or conservation area? These projects incur extra fees because of the additional restrictions placed on the design and build.
- Where do you live in the country? Costs in London and the Southeast of England will be higher than elsewhere.
- What do you want the architect to do? If you only require drawings, then these will cost around £1,000 for a simple project. However, if an architect does more work such as planning application submission, Building Regulation construction drawings, planning drawings, project management and coordinating other professions, the prices will escalate accordingly.
- The architect’s experience will affect the price they charge. The fees will be lower for a newly qualified architect than someone who has had many years of experience.
Architect Hourly Rates UK
In the UK, it’s uncommon for an architect to charge by the hour. However, it’s helpful to know how much you might expect to pay if yours insists on this payment method. Generally, you can expect to pay between £50 and £100 per hour depending on the size of the job, its complexity and the architect’s experience.
Architects fees for planning application
The cost of planning application drawings and associated documentation ranges from £3,000 for extensions, £4,000 for small conversions and £5,000 for a small new build house.
What about Building Regulations?
Compliance with the Building Regulations is essential even if you don’t need planning permission. Architect fees for a small extension construction drawing will be around £5,000, £7,000 for small conversions and £8,000 for a small new build house.
Architect Cost for Loft Conversion Plans
Usually, a loft conversion plan suitable for submission with a planning application will cost around £1,000. This price includes a representation of the exact design and structural alterations to the existing house. Additionally, expect to pay a fee to the local authority for the application. This fee was £172 at the time of writing.
Don’t forget Building Regulations, which are essential when dealing with structural work on a roof. You’ll also need construction drawings for Building Regulation compliance inspections and for the builder to work from. These costs will be between £400 and £800.
Cost Of Architect Plans For Extension
A typical small single-storey extension needs plans for a planning application, costing between £1,000 and £2,500. In comparison, plans for a standard two-storey extension cost between £2,000 and £3,500.
Plans showing Building Regulations compliance for a typical single-storey extension will cost £3,000 to £5,000 (including planning application drawings). In comparison, a small two-storey extension drawings cost £4,000 to £6,000 (including planning application drawings).
When Do You Need An Architect?
Generally, it’s an excellent idea to hire an architect if your project involves any of the following:
- An extension. Whether it’s a side, rear or wrap-around extension.
- A two-storey extension.
- If you plan a loft conversion.
- A basement conversion.
- An annexe.
- Changing your home’s layout. Such as changing door and window openings, changing structural walls, vents, pipework, drainage, and electrical cables.
All these involve changes that need Building Regulation compliance.
You also need an architect when your project requires any of the following:
- Help with permitted development rights.
- You live in a conservation area.
- Your home is a flat or apartment connected to others.
- You live in a listed building.
- Your home is subject to planning restrictions such as a flood zone or near an archaeological site.
How Long Does an Architect Take To Draw Up Plans?
Drawing architectural plans is more than putting pen to paper. The process involves many more steps than that.
This is the initial consultation in which you decide whether the architect is the one for you, and the architect determines what you want from them. This stage might take anything from a few days up to a few weeks. But, at the end of the consultation, both parties will know what is expected of them.
The architect will visit the site to gather many types of information. This might take many visits and will include hiring other professionals to collect data according to their specialisation.
Other professionals will include:
- Local authority inspectors.
This stage can take up to a month.
Compiling the initial plan
Using the data generated from the information gathering stage, the architect designs the project. You will be consulted at various stages to check that you are happy with the proposal up to that point. You will probably see 3D line drawings or software images to help with your decisions.
This stage can take up to eight weeks, although it might be much sooner if you are happy with each step.
The architect submits the drawings, complete with associated documentation and the required fee. At this stage, the appropriate local authority department will inspect the plans, and when they are happy, the council will approve the submission. During this stage, the council formally requests input from your neighbours and other interested parties and will consider their responses. However, if your submission integrates with the local development plan, the council will usually approve the project without too much fuss. Furthermore, the council might ask you to make amendments to your drawings and resubmit at any time during the assessment.
This stage might take any length of time, as you are at the whim of the local authority. Typically, durations can be anything from one month up to six months. However, if you have to make amendments to the plans, and the council needs specialist information, it might take much longer.
Architect Regulations UK
The UK Parliament established the Architects Registration Board (ARB) under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate architects and their profession. The Act imposes restrictions on who can call themselves an architect, and so the Board publishes the current version of the Register every year, which holds the name of everyone who is entitled to be there.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the professional association for all architects within the UK. It provides accreditation and offers training courses to all members. The association also regulates the requirements of degree courses for trainee architects.
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) is the professional association for architectural technicians and technologists. This association holds a register of all members, regulates training courses and provides accreditation.
Do I need an architect for an extension?
The simple answer to this is that you don’t need an architect for anything. You can use an architect for your project or do without. It’s entirely up to you. However, a professional architect ensures your design is safe, legal and complies with the local area development plan. Also, the local planning authority needs good quality drawings of a certain standard before they can decide on your application. Furthermore, you also have to submit approved documentation alongside the drawings.
If you are good on a drawing board or with drawing software and don’t mind doing a lot of research, you can do this yourself. But, it’s much easier to hire an architect to do this for you.
An architect can also supply structural calculations to the Building Control office to prove the proposed project is safe and complies with the regulations.
Using an architect, structural engineer and other specialist building professionals ensures that your extension is safe. But, more importantly, the local authority will know that the architect is qualified and a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Therefore, they understand that all designs will comply with the required levels of safety using approved construction practices.
However, there is an alternative. Architectural technicians qualified by apprenticeship or architectural technologists who complete a shorter degree course than an architect, belong to the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologist (CIAT). They can handle simple extension drawings and submit planning applications. Furthermore, both are significantly cheaper than a fully qualified architect.
Can I draw up plans myself?
You need plans for a planning application. But even if your project doesn’t require planning permission, it must comply with the UK Building Regulations. The best way to show compliance for the Building Control Inspector is to submit construction drawings with the specifications of every building component. And of course, you will also need detailed drawings for the builder and each trade to work from, and for the structural engineer to provide structural calculations.
It is possible to do this yourself and draw the different plans yourself, using one of the many computer software packages available for the layperson. But, by far, the best method is to use an architect, or if the project isn’t complicated, use an architectural technician or technologist.
Planning a building project and preparing the drawings required by the local authority can be challenging, especially if you have no experience in this. Fortunately, architect costs are reasonable and can save you a lot of work in areas most people know little about. What’s more, a qualified architect can also provide a complete project management service for your construction project.
Complete the form on this page, and we’ll put you in touch with qualified architects who can provide competitive quotes.