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27.03.20

'Your Project' Series - Blog 02


How much does this all cost?

Following on from the previous blog where we answered questions you might have such as, “Do I need an Architect?” and “Where Do I Begin?” Now, you are possibly thinking about the cost of your project. This is a big investment, and as such your budget should be given much consideration. Read on as we talk you through how to do just that.

First of all, your budget must be set at a level you can comfortably afford to carry out the works and not the absolute most you could possibly spend on a project. Try to avoid thinking about how much your dream project will or could cost and focus more on what you can afford. Listening to friends with experience, speaking with builders, and watching George Clarke on TV can all be used as a helpful guide but every project is different and nuances can mean your project costing more, or indeed less, than your neighbour’s similar project. We would also advise against investigating the potential scope of your project, even at a conceptual design level, prior to setting your own budget. Then once you have a figure in mind, there is a series of factors to consider.

As a rule of thumb, your project build cost will be roughly 60% of your budget. Yes, you read correctly, and we understand this could be disappointing news, but we’ll explain why. Within the 40% that has seemingly vanished in front of your eyes includes, but is not limited to, the following: VAT, architectural fees, contingency, application fees, and consultant fees. You should also consider potential costs associated with having to rent a place while building works commence as we also advise living off-site during construction. It’s important that you think about all of these things when budgeting at the earliest stage to avoid a huge amount of stress and disappointment at a later date.

VAT is the biggest contributor here at 20% of your build cost but perhaps most importantly, we always advise that a contingency of around 5% is included within even your preliminary budget. The remaining 15% is made up with various professional fees and additional costs. Having an amount of money set aside for unforeseen costs throughout the project, of which there could be many, is vitally important and we really can’t stress that enough. This will protect you against something being dug up or uncovered on-site which results in additional costs. It’s also common that a client will change their mind about an element of the design that incurs an uplift, without contingency this could be a real problem.

Now, we are well aware that the topic of finances is a difficult one for people to have, not least in the current troubling times. We often experience clients not wishing to disclose their budget to us throughout a project. However, we would urge that you are open about your budget, or at least your desired project build cost, as early as possible. The reason for this is simply that we can design thereafter to fit within your budget while still fulfilling your brief. Ultimately, we want you to realise your dream project and we can help you do that much more easily with transparency about the budget.

You might also be thinking, “Well, I have a budget in mind, but I won’t tell them because what I want might be cheaper…” You are absolutely correct that it’s possible you over-budgeted for your project, but it would be against our professional integrity to inflate the build cost unnecessarily. Even at the conceptual design stage, we will provide you with various options at different cost levels, determined by a professional third party, so that you can make decisions about how to spend your money. We will then continue to determine overall costs at various intervals throughout the design process to ensure your budget is stuck to.

Budgeting is, of course, much more complex than we could cover here. It can change and fluctuate, which is why we are here to guide you through this when you are ready. Life Size also has a very informative booklet about how we work, understanding the process and understanding the numbers. If nothing else, it might help take your mind off lockdown. So, if you’d like us to send one out to you, drop us an email with your address and we’ll get that arranged*.

Team Life Size

*A massive thanks to our Royal Mail workers who continue to put themselves at risk for us, along with our heroes and heroines in the NHS. Also please note, in line with guidance from the UK Government, the team at Life Size will be working from home. This will continue until further notice, but we are still contactable via email.