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QS report - eyewatering estimate for "preliminaries" and "design reserve" - am I going mad?

(25 Posts)
ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 00:06:49


We have had a QS report for our hoped-for extension in which the construction cost has been estimated at around £200k.

On TOP of that the QS has estimated:

- £30k for "preliminaries" - I don't understand why this is separate to the construction cost or why it's such a lot of money;

- 21k for "design reserve" - again I don't understand why this is separate or why it's so much;

- £12k for contingency;

- £52k for "professional fees" - this apparently is the architect, structural engineer, QS, and planning and building control fees;

- 3% uplift to take account of cost increases between now and the anticipated start date of the build.

All ex-VAT so the total is just shy of £375k.

This all seems like madness to me. Am I wrong to think that? The project is just a simple rectangular 2.5 storey extension totalling about 50 sq metres on the side of an end-of-terrace house, as well as a bog standard loft conversion with dormer to the existing house. We thought we'd be able to do it for £250k all in.

ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 09:37:13


brumeye Wed 13-May-15 21:42:19

That does sound expensive, but without knowing where you are or the details of the build it's difficult to say.

25% of the construction cost on professional fees sounds ridiculous. Planning, building regs and structural engineer surely can't be more than £2k so where is the rest going?!

If you've paid the QS for this estimate I assume they should be telling you what each element consists of?

AryaUnderfoot Wed 13-May-15 21:50:23

You could buy a spare house to live in for that amount of money!

Bloody hell, we paid 89k + VAT + architect/project manager for our 48 sq m extension and I thought that was expensive!

BumWad Wed 13-May-15 21:52:09

Bloody hell.

ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 22:07:37

Glad to hear I'm not going mad. Bloody hell is exactly what I thought when I got the estimate!

ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 22:31:28

brumeye, we are in an expensive part of Cambridge, but I must say I don't know why that should mean we pay almost three times as much as my brother is paying for an extension of a similar size (but different layout) in a small town 10 miles away. The QS has given a breakdown of some of it but not for the professional fees or the "preliminaries".

Could "preliminaries" really be £30k plus VAT??!? The report says it's for things like scaffolding and management and supervision. I don't understand why that is additional to the (already steep) build cost.

The build itself really could hardly be more simple. It's 2 storeys and a dormered loft room on the side of an end of terrace house and a loft conversion to the house itself.

Sorry to rant but I really do feel cross that we've paid out £3k for a "feasibility study" which estimates the cost of this build at nearly twice what we told the architect our budget was.

brumeye Wed 13-May-15 23:21:16

£3k for a (ridiculous) guess at the cost?! I think our builder paid his QS about 200 quid to do the full costing for our building work.

We're in an expensive part of Hampshire, and our 25 sq m extension, plus a fair bit of refurb and structural work around the rest of the house, new CH system, ufh etc is "only" coming to £135k inc vat. Including preliminaries of just a few k. Our professional and local authority fees can't have been more than an extra 4 or 5k (but had drawings done by a non RIBA chartered building engineer).

Where did you find the QS? Get a recommended local builder to come round and give a back of the fag packet estimate. Can't help feeling it'd be more accurate!

ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 23:40:04

Yes we're getting a back of a fag packet estimate from a builder tomorrow. Can't help feeling the architect and QS thought they saw us coming. They probably thought we'd pay through the nose because we live in a pricey area, but actually we only live there because my parents bought the house for £7.5k in the 1970s!

ThirtySevenA Wed 13-May-15 23:42:17

Also the £3k is for the architect and the QS. The QS has charged £750 + VAT for his bit but he didn't come to the house and his report is very general. I think we've been diddled.

brumeye Thu 14-May-15 07:53:27

I can empathise; we previously spent a year with a "proper" architect planning a larger extension, and then only found out when builders quotes came in that it would cost twice our budget. Partly because the architect had extended the scope, saying we could virtually move every wall in the house, within our budget - and partly because he'd specified crazily expensive materials and ways of doing things.

After a lot of soul searching we gave up on him completely and went back to the drawing board. Now a lot happier with our current building engineer who actually drew what we told him to! Just wish we hadn't wasted a year of our lives being strung along by an architect with his head in the clouds. Bitter? Just a little...

TheUnwillingNarcheska Thu 14-May-15 08:00:56

Could you use the same people your brother did?

I am in Leeds, builders talk straight, give you a quote and stick to it. I had a structural engineer as I wanted no pillar left from the original back of the house, I wanted a vertical steel in the wall to support the new horizontal steel. He cost about £300.

Architect who just copied my own plans was £400. Building control was under £400.

My extension costs came in at £1600 psm for shell, plastered and first fix. I had a sloped garden that needed levelling off too. That was £700 for the digger man and the chap who collected the excess soil. 1 days work for them but 2 collections of the soil.

ThirtySevenA Thu 14-May-15 11:32:38

Interesting what you say brumeye about an architect with his head in the clouds. I suspect that's what happened to us, but we were lucky not to have ended up with him for a year. That sounds awful. At least ours did a feasibility study which showed up the costs of his plan from an early stage. He was a lovely guy and I liked his ideas, but I don't think he was really listening when we said what our budget was.

We've had a builder round this morning who was recommended on mumsnet to give a rough quote. We'll see what he comes up with. He uses an architect (I think probably an architectural technician) who he thinks will charge £1.5k for the job beginning to end. Bit of a difference!

Apatite1 Thu 14-May-15 12:42:03

Architectural technicians are a different kettle of fish from architects. Make sure you get the right qualification for the level of your job. I'd rather pay the fees to a proper architect to make sure I had professional recourse if things went pear shaped. Our is a new building so architect was a must anyway.

Your 50sqm extension will cost you £450k with VAT. Our 300sqm house is going to cost about £650k say £700k with contingency (no VAT). Yours is sounding very very expensive for the size you are getting. I know economies of scale play out here, but ours is six times bigger and only 55% more expensive which doesn't seem right. I'm in zone 2 London.

Are you doing major refurb work in the existing house eg complete rewiring, new floors, new windows etc?

50sqm at 2,000 per sqm is 100k. £250k sounds a more than generous budget even with a loft conversion thrown in!

Apatite1 Thu 14-May-15 12:43:40

Even our feasibility study was only £2k.....

ThirtySevenA Thu 14-May-15 13:12:24

Hi Apatite1. The £375k is including VAT, but even so it's a crazy price to my mind. Interesting to hear what you say about the cost of your new house. The architect talked about economies of scale, but then he doesn't take account of things that should bring the cost per sqm down in our property, i.e. the fact that the footprint is only 15sqm so the cost of foundations and roofing should be relatively low, and the fact that one whole side is already built (i.e. the wall of the existing house).

Also part of the project (in addition to the 50sqm extension) is a loft extension in the existing house, which really shouldn't be calculated on the same per sqm basis. We're not doing any refurb work in the rest of the house. I agree that £250k is a more than generous budget and I was hoping to get a nice kitchen and bathroom and maybe a little underfloor heating into the bargain! We'll see what the builder comes up with - he uses an architectural technician who appears to have some professional indemnity insurance. I'll make sure I check that out properly.

VeryPunny Thu 14-May-15 13:20:02

You are being stitched up like a kipper. We are 6miles south of Cambridge and paid 1k for architect to do drawings (this included site visits, several meetings with us to talk through what we wanted and three revisions). Build (which was basically tear down and rebuild existing extension) was 34k bang on budget, admittedly single storey.

Why have you used a QS? Why not just architect+builder?

VeryPunny Thu 14-May-15 13:25:57

To add, our architect also did project management of builds as well, and had a list of builders he thought well off and worked with previously.

There are an awful lot of people in Cambridge with lots of money but without the first clue about building etc so I wouldn't be surprised if the QS is used to people paying those prices.

ThirtySevenA Thu 14-May-15 13:33:41

Hi VeryPuny. You're right, we were being stitched up. Although to be fair to the architect, I don't think it was deliberate. The firm does a lot of work with the University and I think these huge budgets are just what they're used to. Any chance you could message me with the name of your architect and builder (if you would recommend them)?

ThirtySevenA Thu 14-May-15 13:36:27

PS we used a QS because that was what the architect recommended. It was part of a feasibility study. The architect thought it would be a good idea to get an idea of the overall cost of the project and he appointed this QS (who charged £750 + VAT for his trouble). I doubt I'll be using a QS again - or at least not that one!

VeryPunny Thu 14-May-15 13:52:05

Have PMed you details. Good luck - things in Cambridge are bonkers at the moment. You might want to try posting on the local board as well for recommendations.

zeeww Thu 14-May-15 14:47:15

Blimey..... That's expensive.. We are having a 2-storey extension in West Midlands, about 35sqm in all plus full CH, rewire, internal reconfiguration and full re plaster throughout - coming in around £80k+VAT, and kitchen on top.

Just architect and builder, no QS - find a good builder with a detailed quote and you shouldn't need a QS for that kind of work.

Good luck!

Fedupofallthemud Thu 14-May-15 16:47:58

Our 50sqm 2 storey extension including new bathroom, floor to ceiling triple glazed windows in bedroom and moving almost every internal wall upstairs, new woodburner, bespoke bifolding doors etc cost us about £100k including VAT. We are in Scotland but expensive area.
I can't believe your quote, it's shocking!!

Loumate666 Thu 14-May-15 18:01:59

To give you a comparison, we are in West Sussex (so I guess a 'middily' price area). Our Extn is 170 square meters to a Chalet Bungalow and is made up of 3 new bedrooms, 4 new bathrooms (excl fittings), new kitchen (we supply units for him to fit), playroom, lobby, utility, 100 square meters of wet underfloor heating, oak porch, new boiler, 100 square meters of tiling (we supply the tiles) remodelling 2 existing dormers from flat roof to pitch roof, new soffits, facias, cladding and guttering on existing house to match the new extn, pumped sewerage system, large retaining wall and 30 square meters of patio (we supply the slabs). Cost for this lot is £155k (inc VAT) which also includes £20k of piling costs. The builder is managing everything for me.

Our total budget (we're 1/2 way though the build and we're pretty much on target to hit it) is £204k inc VAT. FYI, the other main items are:

£2.7k - Professional fees (architect, structural engineer, planning and building regs)
£17k Kitchen (inc granite tops, units from DIY Kitchens and SMEG appliances)
£10k - bathroom fittings
£6k - floor & wall tiles
£3k decorating
£2k Gas install and moving overhead electricity line

The rest to get to the £204k is odds and sods like furnishings, laminate flooring and a bit of contingency.

ThirtySevenA Thu 14-May-15 20:15:39

Hi Loumate666. That's really interesting. Thanks for all the detail, it really helps to see a breakdown like that. I can't believe you're getting all that for £240k. Ground floor works are more expensive as well. This thread has given me hope that we can get our job done for our original budget or less. I'm tempted to go back to the architect and put him straight on a thing or two, but I'll try to resist the temptation.

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