Can I Hire an Architect for Just a Few Hours?


The Sunday Times – Ask the Expert with Architect Mark Davies

A reader writes: We want to remodel the ground floor of our house and possibly knock down a wall and add an extension. We’d like to get the advice of an architect but are not sure we can afford it. Can we pay for an hour or two of advice without hiring an architect for the whole job? How do architects charge for their services and plans?

Even if you are just remodelling the interior of your house and adding an extension that doesn’t require planning permission, I would recommend using a professional such as a registered architect or chartered architectural technologist. I get many calls from people unhappy with small kitchen areas or cellular rooms who want more open plan space and natural light. This can be achieved by opening up the whole floor, by knocking down walls or adding on small extensions. Under the planning regulations, you can build up to 40 sq metres on the back of your house without seeking planning permission, as long as you leave 25 sq metres open rear garden space.

House Extension
Different professionals have different fees, but many charge in the region of €250 for an initial site visit. This involves going out to the house, walking through it and giving advice on what you can do. I bring an iPad and go through images of what your property could be like – often the architectural company will have samples of similar previous projects. Some clients can find it difficult to visualise what their property could look like, so before and after images bring the project to life. Expect to pay around €65 to €85 per hour. If you decide to use their services for the entire project, the initial fees may be deducted from your final bill. Always ensure you get terms in writing.

If you do decide to appoint a professional for the entire project, generally they will charge a percentage of your build budget. This can range anywhere from 7% to 15% depending on the project. Usually, payment is made in five stages, though if a project is large (around €1m or higher) you could pay the agreed percentage fee in more stages. The first stage involves design and planning — then you will pay a percentage of your fee. The second is drawings and tendering to builders; the third is for payment tender analysis (the professional will analyse quotes). The fourth payment comes upon construction and project administration, which involves visits to the site weekly to ensure building is in accordance with drawings and regulations. The final payment is due when construction is complete and final certificates are issued.


Stage 1 Design Phase


Some architectural companies like mine will fix their fees from the outset but if the construction budget swells dramatically — maybe doubles or triples — your architect may ask you to re-examine their fee because it is effectively doubling their workload. It is possible to hire an architectural professional just to do design and planning drawings, and this fee can be agreed beforehand. If you have any other queries for us send them on via our contact form below.