Good architecture is about improving your home and your life, although construction costs needs to be able to be met.
You may have a fear that an architect’s design, as amazing as this may be, will blow your budget. There are stories of designs which exceeded the budget so radically they could never hope to be built.
Equally, every architect has worked for a client who adds to the design consistently and expects this to still come under budget. A disparity between expectation and reality is a challenge most architects will face.
Clients may come to us with a rough budget, or no budget. We can advise on what is possible for their project and give an approximate figure to build this, along with the importance of knowing what their budget includes.
At an early stage, consider the following questions:
- Does your budget include VAT, which can be a fair part of construction costs.
- Are consultant fees included, an architect, a structural engineer, an arborist.
- Statutory costs can matter, for planning, building regs, or party wall awards.
- Are items which may be client supply included, kitchens, bathrooms, fireplaces.
- Details have a cost, from joinery, to ironmongery, to heat pumps or solar cells.
- Has external works, or landscaping been factored in, this is often overlooked.
There will be other items depending on individual requirements, such as doors, windows, tiling, carpets. Add those plus the list above, suddenly your £250,000 budget is heading for a figure double that amount.
Establishing Outline Costs
There are online tools which provide a rough idea of build cost, perhaps for an extension of a given size. They are worth a try but have limitations, each project is different and many factors affecting cost are not taken into account.
Take removing a structural wall as an example, how many steels will be required, or other raw materials. How about the cost of a structural engineer, supports and scaffolding, remedial work such as plastering, or painting.
The list could stretch further, with one seemingly small change impacting significantly on costs. Answering the age old question – How much will this cost? – can be difficult, although an architect will help.
Even with a rough idea of the proposed plan, they can offer a figure based on similar projects. This is still subject to wide variations but as more tangible ideas emerge, cost can be honed down, with a rational approach.
Build & Design Combined
If you work with an architect separate to a builder, they need to submit designs to builders to get quotes. These are known to vary by £150,000 or more. A loose approach in common use, although there is an alternative.
Your architect has a professional duty to primarily represent you but finding one linked to an established construction company often makes sense. Architecture, design and build are connected, to create a more seamless process.
They are also more able to offer initial design packages. You can see what is achievable without going through (and paying for) the entire design process. Then being surprised by the cost months later, for a project you put your heart into.
You will be able to see accurate cost updates at key design stages, receive honest feedback on the price of work versus the benefit you gain from this. Your budget will also be taken into account throughout the process.
The type of link our practice has with TN helps to bring confidence, continuity and firmer pricing. Even in the uncommon event that outside support on costs is required, such as a quantity surveyor, more control is in place.
Costs can still change, to allow for design changes made by a client. Keeping these to a minimum is advisable and again, helped by a well controlled process, including a little extra time finalising decisions before proceeding with a build.
There can still be other unknowns and a contingency fund makes sense. Working with an architect linked to constructors will however ensure variations are less likely, helping everyone to focus on creating your new home.