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How much for an architect & structural engineer?

(30 Posts)
LittleMilla Thu 09-Aug-12 21:26:51

We're hoping to knock through back of our house (kitch/diner/outbuidling) and add a 2.3mx3.5m single story extension to create a big open plan living space.

On the recommendation of a builder I have had over (and like - he seems to be v.good and also comes highly recommended) we have an architect coming in a couple of weeks.

Naiively I have NO idea how much an architect charges? Builder also talking about needing to have a structural engineer to work out where there will need to be additional support etc.

Before we lay a brick, how much should we expect to pay? Should I shop around for architects in the same way I am planning with the builder. i.e. get in a couple of quotes?

What's the protocol on all of this?


PorkyandBess Thu 09-Aug-12 21:40:49

Well - I wouldn't use an architect as you'll pay through the nose.

I would use a technician with experience of planning & building regs & go by recommendation. They are just as good as RIBA architects and a whole lot cheaper. A structural engineer will charge on average £200-£500, I know one that charges £80 per steel calculation.

MissPollysTrolleyed Thu 09-Aug-12 21:47:34

Our structural engineer charged us £300 plus VAT for calculations for knocking down a structural wall between our kitchen and dining room. The architect only charged us £200 but he's retired so it didn't go through official channels.

I didn't shop round as I couldn't be bothered didn't have much time and liked and trusted the architect but there's no reason why you shouldn't if you have the time.

Actually, now I think of it, we did have another architect round at one point but he turned out to be a complete knob. He was recommended by the builder and turned up uninvited with the builder when the builder came to quote. He came out with really wacky expensive ideas that we didn't like so we didn't go with him. I wrote him a nice email thanking him for his time (about 20 minutes) and he sent me a stinker of a a reply, berating me for wasting his time and suggesting I was stealing his ideas hmm. For what it's worth, he was going to charge us £400 for his advice.

LittleMilla Thu 09-Aug-12 21:56:05

Thanks both.

We have a RICS surveyor friend who has experience doing these sorts of things who has offered to draw up some plans and help get it through council etc. Problem is that it isn't a straightforward knock down the wall and that;s it. We want to try and pitch the roof (which comes with complications because of neighbours outbuidling etc) and we're not entirely sure the best way to use the space. Builder has said that he prefers to work with an architect for big-ish jobs like ours...but now I am wondering if they're in a cahoots? hmm

At what point do you decide to go with/without an architect? Once they have drawn up some plans...or after the first meeting?

tricot39 Thu 09-Aug-12 23:06:54

Well you are ahead of most people as you can ask your RICS friend these questions and maybe get him and the builder together. The builder might be happy to work with him in place of an architect as a "contract administrator".

In the most basic sense you need someone to draw a scheme which suits you and your house, comes in on budget and meets planning & building regs. In addition you may have design or sustainability aspirations. You will also need party wall awards/advice.

From the sound of it you have a situation where you need a bit of design to deal with boundary conditions. An architect, technician or surveyor could help. They would sort planning and building regs and if you are lucky that person could also sort party walls.

All the builder wants is a spec and drawings for him to price and then build with minimum fuss. He doesn't want to get involved with designer's responsibilities and/or giving you lots of options. He sounds very sensible!

If there is no designer or "contract administrator" then you have to do it and frankly it will be painful for you and the builder while you learn about drawing scales and technical details/regs etc. He has (no doubt) worked with novice clients before and is probably not keen to repeat the experience!

(BTW I'm always curious about people who decide they dont need a designer/administrator for building work - did they do their own conveyancing? Cos it is the same sort of thing)

Anyway ask your friend for suggestions of people he knows could help if he cant (RICS can be very varied). if he does it for you then do consider paying him but ask for mates rates. with the best will in the world free advice is generally inferior and you want PI cover if you are getting someone else to help.

RIBA have fee curves to help architects and clients choose an appropriate fee. normally based on cost of works. Small jobs can be about 15% of the cost of the work. You can start off on hourly rates then convert to a fixed lump sum once you have a contract figure. engineers can vary wildly based on their hourly rates and the amount of work required. but for a beam in a wall i would guess somewhere around 500+ but based on the Victorian house extension thread you have something more elaborate in mind so that takes more time/effort and could be about 3%. Dont forget vat on top.

ask around for recommendations for architects/surveyor/designer and most will be happy to chat through ideas before they propose a fee and you commit. Talk to a few. Normally you would have to pay for plans. ask for references and take them up. visit the projects if you can. pick the 2 you like best then compare their prices and what services are/not included. Once you have a designer ask them for 2-3 structural engineers that they are happy to work with and get quotes. Try not to.go woth someone who is fairly new to.domestic jobs. They will be less clued up about budgets and as a result waste time/money.

good luck!

ps shock at 80 per.calculation. If he does that with no visit etc then he only has to do about 10 mins work.....

shortlands Fri 10-Aug-12 12:00:14


I could have written your original post as I have been wondering the same thing - and also who exactly you need to do what.

We are planning a similar sounding extension / knock throu. We have spoken to one architectural engineer (not sure if that's different?) so far who quoted about £1000 to do the plans (which would be sufficiently detailed for builders to then quote on) and get it through planning / building control. We are in the south east / greater london which I guess might make it a bit more expensive.

I'm a bit confused as to whether we need an architect and a separate structural engineer or whether the same person can do both - and this quote seemed to include everything.

very much at the beginning of this process - its a steep learning curve isn't it, working out who / what you need and how much to pay!

throckenholt Fri 10-Aug-12 12:08:01

We used an architectural tecnician (they do the tecnical drawings), rather than an architect.

Depends how difficult the work - but probably budget a couple of thousand £ for this - that should easily cover it.

Ask around to see if anyone has used someone locally.

Mandy21 Fri 10-Aug-12 12:22:04

We're just in the process of doing this.
In the first instance, we had an architect come to the house (as part of the Architect in the house / Shelter scheme - - you pay a minimum of £40 to Shelter and a local architect gives you the benefit of his advice for an hour). He quoted about £2,000 to draw up detailed drawings for what we wanted to do (which would include liaison with a structural engineer) and get it through the planning permission process. Those drawings would be detailed enough for builders to be able to provide estimates for the works.

Just after that however, a neighbour had some work done and thoroughly recommended her builder - so I asked him to come round too to give us his thoughts on what we wanted to do. As a result, through him, we've had drawings prepared by an architect he uses and that has cost us £1000 plus VAT (plus £150 application fee to the Council). Its a relatively straightforward part single / part double storey extension, so the only involvement from a structural engineer's point of view will be "checking" that there is sufficient support. In our case, as its not particularly complicated, that can be done after we've got planning permission (as the council may alter the plans about how close we can go to the boundary etc, how far we can project at the back of the house, and all of this affects the eventual size of the space and therefore how much support the works need). I understand this will be another £200 / £300.

Hope that helps.

LittleMilla Mon 13-Aug-12 11:04:44

You are all so helpful, thank you!

So based on the fact we're looking at spending c.£30k do we budget £3k? I think I prefer the sound of the £1k people!?

Pendeen Mon 13-Aug-12 17:07:04

" Well - I wouldn't use an architect as you'll pay through the nose. "

Have a hmm from an architect!

" I would use a technician with experience of planning & building regs & go by recommendation. They are just as good as RIBA architects and a whole lot cheaper. "

And another hmm for good measure.

LittleMilla the title 'architect' is protected by law however (unlike many countries) the design of buildings, alterations etc. is not protected so almost anyone can deem themselves 'qualified' to design your extension.

I don't know why PorkyandBess has such a jaundiced opinion of architects but be assured we are not all overpriced and are actually qualified to practice architecture rather than simply draw plans.

Having said that (and getting off my high horse for a moment) a technician, technologist or RICS surveyor may be perfectly able to provide the drawings for a simple extension and may very well charge less.

This is not an advert but as far as my practice is concerned I provide a free initial consultation (provided the client is not too far away) of around an hour or so which allows for a dialogue, the chance to esplore some ideas and maybe a few sketches as well. The inclusion of wine nice coffee and possibly biscuits encourages a longer and more friendly discourse! grin

Should the project be simple in nature - e.g. flat roofed, no planning or listed building consents required, no 'odd' Party Wall problems etc. I have been known to charge as little as £800 for plans, elevations, sections, site and location plan and sufficient detail for a building regs submission. I have even been known to fill in the application form for the client (although they submit and pay the charges). Included in the fee are any minor amendments necessary to ensure the application gets consent.

Architects receive - up to a point - training in structural design so I often undertake simple calculations myself however I know many in my profession fear and loathe anything to do with structures. If I need an engineer then I use a few trusted locals who usually keep their fees to a few hundred pounds. I have never come across the " £80 a steel " engineer though!

If the client wants additional services then I can provide a detailed construction drawing and a specification, manage a tender exercise, and administer the contract. Most domestic clients are happy to simply take the consent and manage their own tender and builder. Almost every commercial or public sector client goes for the 'full' service.

As I said, this is not an advert but I am sure a few telephne calls will find you a local 'Pendeen' who can help realise your aspirations without having to " pay through the nose "

Best wishes.

BerylStreep Mon 13-Aug-12 17:19:59

You can get structural calculations done online here by fully qualified structural engineers. There is a bit for you to work out how much it costs.

SunAtLast Mon 13-Aug-12 17:20:16

We paid for architect and structural surveyor. It was £££.

Already i think it has saved us money. The builder we would have used turned out to be £20 k more expensive than some of the others who tendered. He also came up with a great design and has supported us through planning.

Build starts in a week. Only time will tell if it was money well spent.

BerylStreep Mon 13-Aug-12 17:21:10

Pendeen, you sound lovely. Like a MN equivalent of our fab architect.

LittleMilla Tue 14-Aug-12 09:01:32

Pendeen- very clear, succinct and helpful. Thank you.

We have got the architect coming a week on Thursday and (for those that might be interested) I will let you know how it goes.

Thanks all for replies.

Pendeen Sat 18-Aug-12 00:57:04


That's very sweet of you. x


You are most welcome. Please let us know how yuo get on.

peterrogermorris Wed 10-Jul-13 00:00:53

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karensar Tue 12-May-15 05:19:09

Littlemilla would you happen to still have the builders details please?

We re just about to start planning an extension. Not really sure what to expect so any tips would be welcome

vienaa Tue 12-May-15 08:00:04

We had an architect that drew up my plans £500 also with all the specs, what we have to use and thickness ect, then a structural engineer £180 as we need 3 beams.... he did change a few bits as the first one got refused, sec one got accepted then I changed my mind on one wall and had to start the process all over again (but I did not have to pay submitting my plans again as you have 3 shots) don't forgot you also have building control to pay ours was £800 plus £175 to submit the plans to the council.... So just under £1500 before we even started to break ground.... I am in Suffolk so prices are not bad..

poorbuthappy Tue 12-May-15 08:13:06

Doesn't that size fall under the size for planning? So you don't need it?

NoMoreMissusNiceGuy Tue 12-May-15 16:24:22

So far we have been £600 for plans by an architect technician. £200 to submit plans to council for planning. We have a structural engineer doing a report for us as we need one steel ( hopefully that will only be £100 or so ) then Building Warrant will be £ 500. Eek.

savj Tue 31-May-16 05:38:05

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OnePlanOnHouzz Fri 07-Oct-16 08:54:33

Just read through this whole thread - only realised it was a Zombie one by the end !! Great input by Tricot39 and Pendeen and the others though !

(Must get to work now !! MN is too distracting !!! )wink

Stokey Fri 07-Oct-16 13:17:45

Me too Oneplan!

I thought the prices seemed a bit low, think it will cost us around £3k to get through planning but we have an old detached house and are not sure how we want to extend it so need several plans drawn up to help us decide. And we'll probably have to apply for two lots of planning, one for downstairs and one for upstairs.

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