Thinking about the relative cost and value of architecture

by 27th Aug, 2021

When we work with our clients, we aim to create a project that helps them achieve their aims with the minimum amount of expenditure. Yet, even when we keep the investment to a minimum, the amount is unlike any other expenditure that we will ever encounter.

It’s why we work very hard to set expectations from the very first conversations we have with people. We don’t want to risk embarking on a project that won’t achieve the desired objective within the budget. It’s also why we consider everything with our clients carefully and work through our Stages to make sure we achieve the maximum results within the budget available.

Projects that we help people deliver typically involve a minimum investment of £100,000. Most projects will cost in the region of £200,000 to £400,000.

Apart, perhaps, from the initial purchase of a house, this is unlike any other amount of money we spend.

In comparison, we have our day-to-day expenditure that takes care of food, heating, lighting and so on.

Then there are the exceptional budgets. For example, we might save up to go somewhere beautiful or exciting on holiday.

Going up another level, we might invest in a new car. A new electric car might cost upwards of £30,000. It isn’t a sum we can easily find. But financing options mean we can roll the costs into our monthly budgets, which makes them affordable over a period of time.

The cost of an architecture project is an order of magnitude higher than any of these things. The question is, why should we spend this much money on our homes? Let’s explore this…

The cost of time and materials

The first reason is simply that buildings are expensive because the act of building is expensive. Day after day, for months on end, skilled tradespeople work on a site. Holes are dug in the ground. Bricks, concrete, timber, steel and insulation are all used to construct the space. There’s fitting out as heating and electrical systems are installed. Kitchens, bathrooms and flooring go in. Finally, they are painted and decorated and finished to the last detail.

Yet a building is about so much more than the labour and materials that go into it – and this is where the true value of architecture becomes apparent.

The value of what our homes give us

Let’s think back to our concept of budgets and consider return on investment.

Our day-to-day budget for food, light, heat and power is needed for us to survive. Of course, there is much enjoyment to be had in a warm home and good food, but there is no financial return on investment.

Our holidays give us a vital chance to relax, spend time with the people we love and create lasting memories but there’s no financial return on investment here either.

We need our cars to get us out and about. In some cases, they’re a status symbol we use to project our identities. They retain some element of their value over a longer period of time, but depreciation is steep.

At the most basic level, our homes are necessary for our security and survival and, unlike the other ways we spend our money, they will also deliver a tangible financial return on investment. It’s likely that you’ll have created additional space that will be reflected in a higher sale price. If you’re planning to stay in your home for the next 10 or 15 years, the money you invest now will be more than recouped when you sell because property prices will have increased due to inflation. If you choose to work with an architect it’s likely that you’ll create something unique that delivers a wow factor. This means it will attract a price premium over and above the value that’s in its location or the number of bedrooms it has.

However, we also value our homes in so many other ways and, although the asset base of the house does allow you to invest with confidence, these other factors are the real reasons we love our homes so much.

Our homes are expressions of ourselves

Our homes are the places where we raise family and welcome friends and loved ones, places we come back to every evening, places where we make memories we treasure forever. They are the essential elements of our lives that our homes support and make possible.

In previous years, we might have escaped our homes to enjoy two weeks on a beautiful holiday. Recent times have shown us how important it is that our homes are also places of relaxation, refreshment and enjoyment – places that give us joy on a day-to-day basis.

At the same time, our homes may be places where we spend more time than ever as they become places of work as well as rest.

While our cars may reflect who we are to some degree, our homes are the ultimate expression of ourselves. Few things are more essential than where and how we choose to live, our space and the arrangement of our day-to-day lives within it.

The value of architecture

Over the long term our homes provide us with a tangible financial reward and perhaps even form part of an inheritance for our children. They are places that offer us shelter, warmth and comfort. They are spaces we share with loved ones and celebrate life’s milestones. They are places that reflect who we are and how we want to live.

It’s for these reasons that investment in architecture has so much value.

What we invariably hear from a client after their project is completed is how much they enjoy the space and how surprised they are by the emotional value they gain from it.

As one of our clients, Simon, said: “We love the place – it’s fantastic. Every morning, you come down and you think, ‘This is lovely’. We are very happy to be here.”

Another client, Tim, commented: “It’s changed our lives in terms of how we can entertain people and how we can interact as a family.”

There’s also the ‘wow’ factor when people come to visit. As another client said: “As soon as I come up the drive I think “wow” – and so do many visitors.”

It’s why we’re so proud to work on exceptional projects that transform spaces and transform people’s lives.