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which gave early guidance to architects' fees as a standard percentage of the building cost . This was useful as it gave a way to agree a flexible fee proportionate to what was finally built.

The difficulty is that at the beginning of a project no-one really knows where the brief will lead - a clear idea of the extent of the work usually only emerges after ideas are developed and tested for feasibility. As the design develops many clients get more ambitious as confidence grows - despite everyone's intentions to take budgets as gospel. The problem with the fee scale was that all architects were paid proportionately the same - anathema to the proponents of market forces - so it is now killed off.

However the percentage of building cost concept was tried, tested and finely adjusted through quite a few years of use and reflected fairly accurately what sort of return a practitioner architect needs for a reasonable living. It also gave a good rule of thumb for early cost forecasting. So for our 'small works' clients who need a guide:

NOTE: THIS IS FOR GUIDANCE ONLY

There is one scale (graph) for work to existing buildings and one for new work, because the first is more complex the percentage is at a higher level than the second. Then the scale adjusts for:

•The size of the project - because many tasks are the same whether the job is large or small

•The complexity of the project - there is quite a difference in work between a car park and a recording studio, or an agricultural shed and an individual house.

As a general guide for a domestic project: we would be likely to charge in the range of 12% for a loft conversion and 10% for a largish new house.

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FEES - INVOICING:

There are two usual methods of invoicing for fees: according to the work stages or monthly. For most projects it is more sensible to invoice when each stage is reached as the work will not progress smoothly or predictably unless it is a very large job taking up an architect's whole time. There are inevitable pauses, eg while awaiting statutory approvals or between tender acceptance and start on site.

The RIBA recommends that the total fee is split as follows, this is usually an equitable basis:

* 15 percent for work stages A - C

* 20 percent for work stage D

* 20 percent for work stage E

* 20 percent for work stage F - G

* 25 percent for work stages H - L

However this may sound complex for a small project - an easy way to summarise is: 30% to Planning Application, 30% to Building Regulations approval (usually enough information for a builder to construct a small domestic project), and 30% for administering the building contract.

NOTE:

* VAT is applied to architect's fees.

* We pass on our out of pocket expenses at cost price, covering for example: printing, photocopying, postage, travel if appropriate, photography etc. We can provide full details of these costs incurred on request.

GUIDE TO FEE LEVELS:

The RIBA once provided 'Indicative percentage fee scales'

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