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Is an architect worth the money?

(37 Posts)
Twilightpirate Tue 24-May-16 19:48:50

I know that if you are building a house or a substantial extension then yes of course they would be invaluable but we are doing neither of those things - we want to do some remodelling to create an open plan kitchen-diner. We are pretty clear on 90% of what we want to do, where kitchen will move to and how to make the other space work but we will have a slightly awkward space at the end of the kitchen that we are trying to figure out what to do with.

Anyway, long story short, I thought it might be worth to have an architect come in and just see what they think about how best to use the space. But when I approached one it was £599+VAT for them to come over and do a consultation and some drawings. Which was a lot more than I had anticipated.

So is it worth it? Given we are pretty certain about most of what we are planning to do, it seems like a lot of money. Is that a normal price?

PippaFawcett Tue 24-May-16 20:13:33

Following, I could have written your post. I think the fees are worth it, as they might suggest something we haven't thought of and DH thinks it is a waste of money.

Fuzzywuzzywasabear Tue 24-May-16 20:27:08

Go with the architect, we used a technician for our open plan diner and while we're happy with it, it could have been better and we do regret not going with the architect.

We saved in the grand scheme of the extension cost a tiny amount.

Lweji Tue 24-May-16 20:29:08

Overall I think it's worth as they will be more aware of any regulations you should follow, particularly if you ever want to sell.
And may come out with interesting ideas.

Lweji Tue 24-May-16 20:29:55

Just beware that they may also come out with a lot more than you want. Keep them straight.

Phalarope Tue 24-May-16 20:33:58

We are planning on doing the same kitchen-diner thing and had an architectural technician round last night (friend of a friend). He felt there wasn't much point in doing drawings/proper plans, as it was all fairly straightforward work and we could just leave it to the builders.

Twilightpirate Tue 24-May-16 20:38:41

Thanks for your replies!

I worry that they will come and not suggest anything particularly ground breaking and we will have paid £700 for the privilege of someone telling us what we already know...

Drawing-wise we have some drawings by a kitchen design company - not sure how "technical" these are but then I don't really know what the benefit would be of having architectural plans tbh. We have never done anything like this before. In our last place we did a new kitchen but it was literally replacing like for like!

JT05 Tue 24-May-16 20:40:12

Architects spend 8 years qualifying, as others have said they will think of solutions that the layman will not.
As a proportion of your final spend the cost seems reasonable.

Believeitornot Tue 24-May-16 20:41:19

What about a kitchen designer?

didireallysaythat Tue 24-May-16 20:50:22

We are extending by 2m by 8m but got an architect and I'm glad we did as I'm now looking at the calculations for the steels required to allow us to remove a wheel - and we're still not certain they may have to underfill at a corner if the foundations aren't deep enough. The plans were useful - the kitchen designer didn't appreciate the sink can only go in one place to allow the drains enough drop. If we had gone with our plan the upstairs bathroom would be downstairs in a puddle of water. Our plans cost £30/hour - could you get an hourly rate if it's a simple job ?

didireallysaythat Tue 24-May-16 20:51:20

Remove a wall, not a wheel...

GoodLuckTime Tue 24-May-16 20:57:15

Twilight I think that cost sounds like a lot for a first visit.

We met three when planning an internal refurb (we've got the top two floors of a house so no option on extending.

All three came around and knocked ideas around with us for free. No drawings though, which you would expect to pay for. But I would expect them to be willing to come over, meet you, talk through their credentials (eg have they done other similar projects? Can you see pictures. / visit them?) listen to what you want to do, and throw out some ideas for free.

Then if you go ahead you move to drawings,a greeting how involved they'll be (drawing only / handling planning applications if you need it / project management and running the build).

On this basis, we ditched two
- one was suggesting a floating staircase in a Victorian town house! He was v cool and clearly in his 'floating staircase' phase which was wrong for us and our house
- one was pushing us to have our dining table in the living room, when we were closer we wanted to fit it I the kitchen

We went for the final one, drawings only, and even the we ignored her advice (to put an island in the kitchen) an interior designer also advised us to put an island in the kitchen (we paid her for some other stuff but ditched her at a half way point).

In theory, Architects should be able to 'see' the space better than you can, and make it work well in a way you'd not imagined. The really good ones do that. But lots of them just try to sell you what they're into / what they've done recently / what fashionable whether or not it is right for your house. The advice on the island was like that: they are v fashionable at the moment, but our room was just not big enough for it and it would have been at the expense of something we knew we wanted (to fit a proper table to eat at in the kitchen).

We had other stuff to decide: whether to keep or remove a door. Again we got no good advice on that either. Rather we spent AGES discussing it ourselves. We spent many weekends with the top of our kitchen table laid out on the floor, figuring out to the last millimetre what could go where.

And we did something none of the three Architect's suggested (or supported when we floated it) and it's brilliant.

No island, kept the door, and now when everything is open (we knocked through to the living room) the Space feels massive, as the open doors make the bit in the middle seem to disappear.

The bottom line is none cares about your home as much as you do.

To summarise: don't pay and architect for a first visit. Do a tonne of research yourselves. Online, visit other houses (snoop estate agents etc), grill friends with similar spaces.

PippaFawcett Tue 24-May-16 21:11:10

My reasoning in my discussions with DH that if we do our renovations well then we will enjoy our home more and it could add £££ to the value of the house and if we do it poorly it will be the opposite.

DH thinks they can't possibly tell us anything we don't know as there is only so much that can be done with the space but I don't think we know that for sure unless we check.

dynevoran Tue 24-May-16 21:15:42

Im paying a similar amount for laser measurements and visualisation to go to the planners and neighbours with to start a dialogue. In London. But overall fee is around 10% of our build costs which seems pretty standard to me. We are trying to do something unusual though and there is no way it would be possible without an architect.

PippaFawcett Tue 24-May-16 21:31:26

I don't understand the % of the build cost thing, surely that is a chicken and an egg thing with not knowing how much a builder will quote until they have the plans?

ChablisTyrant Tue 24-May-16 22:17:30

We got 3 round and ended up paying one of them just £40ph to do some sketches and then proper plans for the structural engineer to work from.

I think getting innovative ideas for use of space can come from all sorts of places so you don't necessarily need an architect. We've done loads of work on houses and find builders often have great ideas!

whois Tue 24-May-16 23:19:27

find builders often have great ideas

Esp if they do a lot of work on that kind of house - like loads of terraces in the same area re identical/mirror so you can see some really good things that have been done.

Twilightpirate Wed 25-May-16 06:26:54

Ooh thanks everyone!

So it sounds like that might just be a really high cost. I'm happy to have an architect of we can pay about £200 for an initial session and just see what ideas they have etc then decide about drawings etc!

I'm in the South East and those architects are London-based so maybe they are especially expensive. It seemed like a package for a 4 hour visit, recommendations and drawings but if they don't come up with something different then is it worth it?!

It doesn't help that we are under time pressure, need this done before September for various reasons!

PippaFawcett Wed 25-May-16 06:56:42

Twilight, let us know how you get on as we haven't exchanged on the house we are going to need to do this to so advice will be welcome!

dynevoran Wed 25-May-16 07:08:22

Pippa it seems quite a common way to do things. Some of the contingent parts that make up the % are computed after the build cost is known and plans have been tendered. But we have a realistic idea of costs based on the architects experience of double storey cost per sq m. Part of the initial free consultation is to establish feasibility of the site and the budget on an approximate basis.

I would always pay a professional for their services. I provide professional services myself and it would be madness anyone tried to do what i do themselves without experience and specialist knowledge. I tend to apply this same logic to other services that i require.

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Wed 25-May-16 07:22:40

The problem is there's not much in it for the architect. If you're doing a decent sized extension their fee would be in the £1000s and most would do a free consultation. They might have a great idea for how to use the awkward space but it's a lot to pay if they don't.

DustOffYourHighestHopes Wed 25-May-16 09:32:44

Can you invite some round for a quote ? When they come round, you can get a sense of how much value they would add, and what ideas they would have. It should be free to get a quote.

JT05 Wed 25-May-16 09:53:01

How about looking for a local Architect. Quite a few Architects set up 'micro' practices when they finish working for big practices and will often be cheaper due to lower overheads.

Just make sure they are RIBA registered and have the relevant insurances if you use them in the construction process.

Willow3131 Wed 25-May-16 10:46:42

Why don't you make a mock up sketch & post it on Houzz for advice? Some fab pros on there willing to help smile

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Wed 25-May-16 10:59:49

Thing is Dust, that from what the OP has said it is really only the idea that she wants. So if an architect comes round and has a brilliant suggestion they still don't really have much need to employ them for more.

The only other thing I can suggest is that they find a good interior designer/architect and just say that all they want is someone to come round a give some suggestions. Couple of hours work. They might scribble some ideas down rather than formal drawings but that could be enough, and might cost a couple of hundred. I can't imagine many architects would be keen on doing free consultations for such a small amount of work.

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