Average fees for architects across the profession flatlined in 2016, but sole practitioners experienced a worrying 6 per cent drop in the hourly rates following the EU referendum
The new data comes from industry experts, the Fees Bureau. The annual survey converts figures submitted by UK private architects into an inflation-adjusted index, using fee levels in 2000 (represented by 100) as its baseline.
In 2016, the index showed overall fees across the profession at 109.7, up only slightly from the 109.3 recorded in 2015, when charges leapt from the previous year.
A spokesman from The Fees Bureau said: ‘While the average fee lines might have dropped a notch or two lower, the Fees Index has moved up slightly. This is not contradictory - the Fees Index takes account of building cost inflation, so the ‘real’ value of fees is at least stable.’
The figures show downward movement in private housing new build and offices.
In contrast, private housing refurbishment work has risen this year, particularly for larger projects.
Sole practitioner hourly fees dropped from £90 to £85 over the year, the Fees Bureau said.
Salary survey graphs average hourly rates charged by sole principals
The spokesman said: ‘We have found this pattern in the other professions we survey and we think this could be related to the timing of our surveys, conducted just days after the EU referendum vote.
‘We think the conservative hourly rates figures may have more to do with architects down- grading their fees in the expectation of a downturn.’
Gerard Daws of design management consultancy Plan A, said: ‘There is a nervous “business as usual” atmosphere among the architects we work with. ‘Generally, other than the highly speculative schemes, projects are moving forward and fees seem to be holding up.
‘However, due to Brexit we are in a period which none of us has experienced before and it is causing a conservative approach to forward planning.’
However, he added that Brexit is being used by some firms as a convenient excuse for project resources and resource fluctuations.
Salary survey graphs architects’ fees index by sector
Nick Willson of Nick Willson Architects, said: ‘As a studio we haven’t seen much of a drop off in our fee levels on our private residential work. If anything we are getting slightly higher fees for our one-off private houses - may be because we are being selective with jobs.
‘However, commercial has got a bit tougher and harder to negotiate fees. I am not sure if this is due to Brexit fears or the new zero carbon impacts.
‘Fees might be a bit lower due to uncertainty in the economy, but I always stress that there is a value attached to the fee and that if I get paid properly then I will give an appropriate service and then some.’
John Assael, of Assael Architecture, called this year’s research ‘depressing’.
He said: ‘The average hourly rates are so low that I can’t understand how many architects survive.
‘Certainly, our rates are much higher with my charge out rate at £250 per hour. If I was a solicitor like my twin brother this would be at least double and in some London firms, treble.
‘Architects need to get much tougher …. or give up.’