What does an architect do? How much are architects fees?

What does an architect do? How much are architects fees?

These are the kind of questions that many people ask when looking to involve an Architect in their building design. Below we have aimed to answer these questions.

Working with an Architect

For clients embarking on their first building design project involving an Architect, the process and fees structure may seem daunting. While there is formal guidance available from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) we can perhaps offer a simpler explanation of our general approach. Usually the work breaks down readily into a few clear stages – around which the various outputs, sign-offs, approvals & fees can be structured. These are:-

Survey / Concept Design

Surveying the existing property, identifying opportunities & constraints, working with clients to understand their requirements, offering suggestions to answer the client’s requirements, early discussions with planners, testing early ideas with concept sketches.

Design / Planning Application / Approval

Developing the design from the initial concepts to a final agreed version, preparing and making a detailed planning submission, ensuring that landscape, ecology, highways, planning and other policy requirements are incorporated.

Detailed Design / Tender

Detailed Design involves more time spent with the client to ensure that their detailed requirements / specifications are successfully combined with the various legislative & technical requirements such as Building Regulations or energy performance calculations. The project is often costed by builders once this stage has been reached, and we would help identify suitable builders and work with both the client & the builder to agree a price for the project. Occasionally the client has a ‘friendly builder’ they would like to use, in which case a price can be negotiated directly between the client and builder.

Site Stage

Finally the site stage commences. We would administer a building contract between the client & the builder, certifying the various stage payments & ensuring the building is built in accordance with the design details.


Our fees can be based on a percentage of construction cost (the traditional way), but sometimes this can feel too open-ended so where the scope of the project can be clearly identified from the outset a fixed fee can be agreed. Either way, we would always ensure that the basis is clearly negotiated and agreed at the beginning of the project. This would include break-down across the stages, and our ongoing appointment would be confirmed prior to each stage.

As our website illustrates [houses, housing, community, etc], Grainge Architects have been commissioned for both large & small projects, which all illustrate how well-managed design and cost control have enabled our clients to achieve their aspirations.

Clearly this simple explanation is only an outline of the process of working with an architect.An initial no-obligation discussion can often clarify how way we might be able to help you with your project, so please call us – on 01392 438051 or get in touch by our contact page.

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