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RIBA to bin 'outdated' fee scale graphs

The RIBA is to drop its fee scale graphs in the latest edition of A Client’s Guide to Engaging an Architect

The loss of the graphs, which featured percentage fees based on independent cost survey data, marks the demise of the institute’s once compulsory fee scales – abolished as mandatory in 1982 and as ‘recommended scales’ in 1992.

The RIBA maintained the revised guide would still contain concise written advice about how practices calculate fees and structure payment options.

A RIBA spokesman said: ‘The RIBA Practice Committee felt that the application of percentages based upon fee survey data was an increasingly outdated method of calculating fees, and potentially harmful in the current economic climate, and that it should be removed from this guide.

‘[We] hope to encourage architects to calculate their fees on a resource-based, time-charge or value-added basis as appropriate, in line with the approach of other construction consultants.’

The news has been met with a mixed reaction from architects. Kevin Drayton of Huddersfield practice One17 Design said: ‘Few clients genuinely understand what architects do, and fewer still appreciate the time involved.

‘Haggling over a detailed hourly rate fee quotation can be a nightmare. Being able to point to line on a simple graph or chart gives clients comfort, and minimises haggling. [However] Any architect who doesn’t know the true cost of their quotations to his or her practice will neither be saved nor sunk by a graph.’

Meanwhile, Robert Evans of Evans Vettori Architects in Derbyshire said: ‘We still use the graphs as an upper fee level benchmark. The graphs accurately reflect time needed on bespoke complex projects and I would be sad to see them go.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • As I understand it the majority of Architects are still against the abolition of the fee scales so it's quite clear to me that the RIBA has no right to abolish them - simple! If you agree write to them, better still find the chairman's e-mail address and send him an e-mail and copy it to every architect you know asking them to do the same!

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  • There needs to be some kind of minimum standard for fees otherwise architects will continue to undercut each other, particularly when bidding for projects. A resources based approach sounds fine except that it is often difficult to assess what exactly what is required at the outset for what is essentially a non-existent design. Particularly when architects are under time pressure to produce bids, the fee scales give some level of certainty that the project can be delivered.

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  • I'm in the process of going through the part 3 system, of which i find myself constantly asking the following questions;
    1) why was the fee scales disbanded yet other professionals ignored?
    e.g. lawyers, vets, doctors, insane hourly rates and are they challenged? no. For their services, we the client pay for their expertise but when our rates are disclosed to potential clients they turn the other way and find people with no insurance, no skill to do their work (clients choice/risk of course) but surely the disbandenment of the rates intiated our demise into the history books?
    In the past architects were an elitist group, we managed, ran, quantified and even designed. now, we seem to undercut to obtain work, professional arent we. I say this because a colleague has had many potential jobs become shelved and all because the client has found an ad in the paper offering services that do not reflect the training we have.
    2) why does the ARB defend clients and not the architect when we are forced to pay the arb a fee? shouldn't this be paid by the client if they require them, its like signing your own death certificate is it not?
    The ARB may denote the principles (more common sense really) but when the fee scale was challenged, why didnt the RIBA/ARB fight tooth and nail to retain these, is this not part of what we pay for, this so called elitist membership?
    3) I concur, that minimum wages should be brought in to help those less fortunate and to survive in an ever tougher society, are those practices that pay poorly realy making such a low income? if those practices were managed well and those at the top fair, then surely those new bloods with an interest in architecture would be guided rather than being broken at the outset.

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