Self-Build Week No.4 – Why architects should charge self-builders more, not less – the conundrum

It’s Day Four of ‘Self-Builder Blog Post Week’ and this post is an interesting one as it poses a real conundrum for architects.

Why architects should charge self-builders more, not less…

Now you’d think that as a self-builder you should get a better deal on your architectural services but the exact opposite should be the case.

If you look at the four RIAI Work Stages:

1. Initial Design

2. Developed Design

3. Detail Design

4. Construction

Everything is looking hunky-dory until Work Stage 4 when the site inspections and certification kicks in.

Now let’s look back at a previous blog post on How many times should an architect visit and inspect a build? and the UK has a great Building Control system and method of inspectors/officers ‘risk-assessing’ a project in terms of the experience of the builder in relation to how many times visits should be made to create a minimum risk factor.

Now if you look at the potential risk of a self-builder (frequently with zero building experience) against a well qualified and experienced main contractor you can see immediately the increase in potential risk which will result in a greater number of visits. These visits will frequently involve a great deal of ‘hand-holding’ in addition to the contractual visits to ensure compliance with planning, building regulations and specification.

The potential risk has increased exponentially in the last few years with huge leaps in effective detailing to ensure thermal and air-tight performance – something that the average main contractor is struggling to come to terms with, let alone the self-builder with minimal building experience.

The problem however for the architect is that the self-builder (especially in today’s economic climate) is the one that can least afford such hand-holding; but I urge you (if at all possible) that in order to ensure your project is built well and is compliant in all respects that you make a registered architect part of your team and pay him or her accordingly for the service they provide.

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