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Architects should charge more for small projects, ACA survey early results show

Preliminary findings from the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) fee survey reveal that architects continue to under-charge for their services, especially on projects with a total build cost of less than £250,000

The ACA graph is based on the number of hours taken to resource projects and aims to fill the gap left by the RIBA fee scales, which up until 1982 controlled prices for architectural services. The RIBA indicative ‘fee graph’ was abolished two years ago.

According to the data collected by the ACA, architects aiming for an ‘average charge out rate’ of £60 per hour must bill at least 13 per cent on projects worth less than £250,000. On schemes below £100,000 that rises to 27 per cent.

The report’s author, Alfred Munkenbeck of Munkenbeck and Partners, said: ‘On projects below £250,000 it’s almost impossible to make your money back or to make a decent wage.’

He added: ‘The RIBA should not have abandoned fee scales. Fee scales should be based on work needed, not marketplace rumours. There needs to be a connection between what we charge and what we take home.’

The preliminary study is based on 115 projects, with architects invited to contribute by visiting and submitting project data – such as a description, the cost, and time taken on the scheme. The ACA plans to release a revised fee graph once data from 1,000 projects is received.

The preliminary findings also challenge the traditional assumption that refurbishment of existing buildings requires higher fees than new build projects.

RIBA Professional Services executive director Richard Brindley said the institute approved of the ‘motive’ behind the graph to ‘make sure architects are paid properly’, but thought it unlikely the institute would ever endorse it as a replacement. He said: ‘Fee scales are considered anti-competitive by the Office of Fair Trading, so it’s very difficult for any professional body to produce one.’


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