Architects like to complain about their income. When times were good, we imagined ourselves hard done by in comparison to other professions. Nowadays, when every trade and profession is suffering, we’re no more the solo performer but merely another voice in the choir, despairing at reducing fees and vanishing jobs. The older Architects whom I understand personally, get all misty eyed when they talk about a supposed golden age of never ending commissions and high fees. The occasions they refer to are the post-war decades prior to the 1980’s. During this period, they tell me that Architects (and other professionals) best fee earner was the Mandatory Fee-Scale.
Fee-Scales are lists, drawn up by professional bodies, that describe how much each member of that body must charge for certain form of job. For example, all dentists agreeing to charge £50 to eliminate a tooth, no dentist is allowed to charge anymore or any less. This gives the customer cost certainty, you know how much you is likely to be charged and you know every dentist will charge the same, which means you go to the dentist you like the most (or dislike the least). The same was true for Architects, most of us consented to charge the same rate for the same work, there is no competition.
Many Architects blame Margaret Thatcher for abolishing mandatory fee scales but in fact it began in 1977, before she came into power, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission started the process, not the Tories. The Office of Fair Trading stuck the boot in around 1986, ruling that Mandatory Fee Scales were anti-competitive. But even before that, in 1982, the RIBA changed the Mandatory Fee Scales to Recommended Fee Scales. It had been around now that the Architecture profession began what economists call, a race to the bottom. We began undercutting one another to win work. Whereas before, a client chose an Architect based only on their reputation and the caliber of their work, now they can choose on the basis of the cost of the service as well. Only oftentimes they do not, they choose on the basis of the cost of the service and nothing else.
Since the early 80’s there is a huge constant chorus of complaint from architects, that ever dwindling fees contributes to poorer buildings and more dis-satisfied clients. Therefore, they say, has lead to Architects losing their financial and social status. According to these disgruntled designers, the clear answer would be to re-introduce Mandatory Fee Scales. Of course this really is illegal under UK and EU law, it is a dead end. For a profession famed for the creativity, this method shows an extraordinary not enough lateral thinking.
So so what can we do to improve our income while also giving the customer the advantage of choice? I declare that each practise should clearly publish their Architects Fees for standard items of work.
Whether its the hourly rate charged for every single person in staff or the fee for every single form of service. This will give the general public a clear idea of how much they will be charged and it’ll let others within the profession know where their fees fit in relation to other Architects. At present, the main way for an Architect to gauge how much to charge would be to consult the Mirza and Nacey fees guides. This publication surveys Architects over the UK and publishes the going rate for some main types of work; residential, commercial, education, healthcare etc. It lists the fees charged on sliding scale with the construction costs, the higher priced the build the bigger the Boca Raton architects fee. The main report for this season costs £195. It tends to be bought by Architects and is not a thing the common consumer will purchase.
I publish my fees on my website, I state my hourly rate and I list the fees I charge for a Full Appointment and a Limited Appointment. I’ve had a mixed a reaction to carrying this out, mixed for the reason that clients like it and almost every other Architects are resistant. Discussing fees is still something of a taboo one of the profession and how much each firm costs for its work is, Within my experience, a carefully guarded secret, even from their particular staff. The current state of affairs doesn’t fully protect the customer, as it was supposed to. The normal consumer does not have easy and convenient use of fee information and, Within my experience again, most ordinary folks have a greatly inflated idea of the fees charged by way of a typical architect. A lot of my clients are surprised and delighted at the amount of service they receive, relative to the fees I charge.Read More