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AJ Fees Survey 2017: How much are you charging?

Ibc feesurvey ad aj 120117 crop
  • 6 Comments

The results of the AJ’s fees survey provide a fascinating insight into the value placed on architects’ services, says Richard Waite

The AJ can reveal the initial findings from its in-depth survey into how much architects in the UK are charging for their work.

The data received from nearly 400 respondents, and covering more than 500 real projects, sheds light on the amount of fees – and the hourly rates – the profession is charging today.  

Fee survey 2017 amended

Fee survey 2017 amended

Last year the AJ promised to produce a range of fee data and tools to help architects better value their worth and benchmark themselves against other practices. As AJ editor in chief Christine Murray said last year, transparency about what practices are charging could help renew architects’ solidarity on fee levels and potentially protect against the profession-wide damage caused by undercutting.

Although sometimes appearing inconsistent, the results are both revealing and, hopefully, very useful. For example, the data collected about the percentage fees charged per RIBA plan of work stage suggests that delivery architects are better paid than those working on the concept stages.

007 Fees AJW 1705253

007 Fees AJW 1705253

On refurbishment work for schemes up to £100,000, architects only working on RIBA stage 5-7 were regularly charging 13 per cent – double the fee levels of architects solely involved in the design and planning of a project.

When inflation has dramatically pushed up the costs of everything else, architects’ fees appear to have been restricted

In terms of hourly charge-out rates, the AJ’s figures show that associate directors, directors and partners based in London firms are all billed at £100 per hour or more.

007 Fees AJW 170525

007 Fees AJW 170525

That is up to a third more than the hourly rates outside the capital.

However, it appears these rates have largely remained static, according to Paul Chappell of recruitment agency 9B Careers, who carried out similar research 10 years ago.

He told the AJ: ‘When inflation has dramatically pushed up the costs of everything else in the last decade, architects’ fees appear to have been restricted. Without practices being able to increase their charge-out rates, salaries will obviously suffer a similar fate. While practices are generally very busy at the moment, the pressure on fees is a constant issue.’

007 Fees AJW 1705252

007 Fees AJW 1705252

Chappell added: ‘When compared to solicitor rates, you have to feel architectural clients are getting exceptional value for money.’

The AJ plans to carry out the survey on an annual basis to get a much more comprehensive picture and allow us to monitor the trends and changes year-on-year.  

Also, in a future issue we will be taking a deeper look at the fees charged specifically for residential projects, broken down by contract type, stages and value.

008 Fees AJW 170525

008 Fees AJW 170525

‘We have been hearing about the challenging fee environment, and the erratic full results show there is little consensus on the cost or design and delivery,’ Murray added.

‘Hopefully by collecting and making this data public, the AJ can help you benchmark your business approach.’ 

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  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • No surprise, but what very low hourly charge out rates when compared to any other profession or garage mechanic.

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  • Chris Roche

    This is extremely valuable evidenced based analysis which confirms individual and anecdotal experience of Architects fees being unreasonably squeezed in real terms. Property values have risen dramatically since 2008 suggesting developers are making greater profits whilst Architects Fees continue to stagnate. This is neither desirable nor sustainable. I have given a number of talks to Part 3 Students over the last 4 years, and my research suggests that 25 years ago the ratio of Part 3 student salaries to first flat values was 1:3. 4 years ago it was 1:17, and extrapolated over 25 years it becomes an unimaginable 1:84. This is depressing and suggests whilst it is unlikely currently students will be able to afford a home of their own, through their independent efforts, it will be inconceivable in the future. This week the professional responded illogically to the governments proposal to charge a fee for non-EU architects coming to work in the UK. They argued against this fee no doubt on the basis it would impact on the profits of the practices they represent. I believe the profession has a responsibility, moral, ethical and yes commercial, to stop undermining a young architects ability to obtain a reasonable salary by constantly looking to drive salaries down instead of looking to increase them. Universities are now complicit in producing far more graduates than can be reasonably employed at sustainable salary levels and the Government should take action, as has been the case in Germany where student numbers are now moderated to reflect market needs. The medical profession has effectively been doing the same for generations. Well done to the AJ for continuing to shine the spotlight into the hidden commercial realities facing the profession, not just on fees, but on equality, diversity, and well being.

    Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects.

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  • No point me saying anything, I concur with Chris.

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  • Chris- I'm not sure universities producing too many graduates is the major reason for the increase in the number of young architects. The last published figures from ARB for 2015 show 2,279 new registrations of architects with 1072 being European admissions using the freedom of movement provided under the European Union Professional Qualification Directive. This represents 47% of the registrations and has grown quite considerably in the past few years. I would be interested to know what will happen to ARB and how it might work once the UK is no longer part of the EU and especially if all current registrations will stand.

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  • It seems that quite a lot of the data is contradictory

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  • John Kellett

    Those fees levels do not sound high enough to be capable of carrying out the work at a professional level. They sound more like the fee levels that make a loss after having been beaten into submission by Bentley driving developers and Government departments :-) Do they expect to go to their supermarket and tell the shop how much they expect to pay or to their solicitor to dig them out of a legal hole how much they will pay. NO. We need to ensure it is the other way around. I used to work for a non-architect who operated by saying the following "architects are expensive, we only charge £". That figure was in excess of any fee most architects would have charged! I know because in a later job, with an RIBA Chartered Practice, I was reprimanded for suggesting a similar fee for a similar project as it was 'way too high' :-)

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