How architectural fees are calculated

A wild shot?

Professional fees can be difficult to clarify at the start of a project, because there are so many variables. Imagine a product such as a car. In choosing which one, many comparisons are made. Now scale up to a house, and throw location, budget, design and personality into the mix and you begin to see the complexity involved. Here we give you an overview for a better understanding of how we agree a fee.


‍Usually done for a feasibility study, or short term work where the scope has to be teased out. An entire project could be based on a hourly rate, so that if the client does not make many changes, their decisiveness reduces the fee.

Percentage of construction cost:
Historically, often done this way. As construction costs go up, the number of decisions to be made increases in proportion. However, clients may feel that there is an incentive to keep construction costs high in order to inflate the fee.

Fixed sum:
When the scope of the project is tied down, the fee is fixed based on projected construction costs.

How we do it

We quote a fixed sum that is based on a cost per square metre build cost of similar and recent projects, or that is based on a quantity surveyor’s estimation of costs. As built by a general contractor with skilled workers and appropriate insurances in place, not based on self build costs by a neighbour who has worked on their own house over a number of years!

Where do you begin?

A good starting point is to speak to someone who has had work done. It should be work that you admire, and could imagine fulfilling your own brief. Research architects’ work in your area, either online or in the flesh. If you can get inside a house that appeals to you, that’s better still. We have opened a number of our houses during Open House Limerick, a nice way for people to experience our designs first hand.

How much help do you need?

Now this is a loaded question…you may come with a clear brief, thinking that ‘it just needs to be drawn up’. Ernö Rubik, a Hungarian architect, invented the cube to show how moving one element on a surface affected all the others. Invariably, there are more permutations of your idea that need to be explored. You may want a design brought to planning stage only. This we do, with the caution that the best way to ensure that the original vision is achieved is to have your architect guiding the project from start to finish. But we also understand that sometimes that’s not possible. You may toy with the idea of building without a contractor, by direct labour. Don’t.
Unless that is your skill set, allow a good contractor to use their experience and skill to deliver a great result.

Comparing apples with oranges

Most of us use our connections to find out information, especially on something as big as a building project. When finding out what fees someone has paid an architect, ask what is included, or not. How many design options are explored? Are there models of your house to make it easier to understand? Are systems for services explained, so that you know the benefits? And so on. The value of a fee that includes these things becomes apparent when the alternative is your time, and probable lack of experience.

Breakdown of stages

We want to give you our best work, to spend time discussing things like how windows open, and looking at materials. To do so, and see you walk into your completed home, is our full fee service. To design your project and bring to planning permission stage only is 40% of the full fee. Additional services such as interior design are a separate fee.


Actual figures - our fees are on a sliding scale, depending on the project. For a new house costing €400,000 to build, our fee for a full service would be €40,000, 10% of the construction cost. As the spend on construction goes up, our percentage fee goes down. A build cost of €600,000 might be a fee of €51,000, for instance, which is 8.5%. Renovations start at a higher percentage, 12.5%, due to the greater work involved compared to a new build.

A certain amount of interior work is included in our design, for instance some cabinetry and general layout of kitchen and utility areas.

Fees on an hourly basis are €100/hour plus VAT. We charge this way for a feasibility study, site or house visits pre purchase.

If you go ahead with the project, this amount comes off your overall bill. Interior work such as selection of furniture, light fittings etc. is also priced this way.

As each project, client and circumstances are unique, please feel open to discussing fees with us. We strive for a solution that we feel is fair to both parties.

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