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
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.
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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.
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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.’
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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.
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‘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.’