How Much Does an Architect Cost: Detailed Guide

How Much Does an Architect Cost: Detailed Guide

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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When you think about architecture, what comes to your mind?

You may agree that most of us imagine large, complicated buildings such as modern stadiums and towering glass skyscrapers. Of course, you never imagine that your homes require these skills, but it does.

So, whether you’re redoing a space or planning a whole-house remodel, hiring an architect is a sound investment. But how much does an architect cost? This guide will focus on architectural fees to make the process easy for you.

However, before we discuss the costs of an architect, let us understand their role.

What's On This Page?

Who Is an Architect?

Who is an architect?

Image Source: ctfassets.net

An architect is a white-collar artisan trained in the science and art of construction design. They create the structures’ concept and transform the ideas into plans and images, which become offices, homes, and other buildings. The work of an architect involves more than the structure’s appearance.

It further includes developing a safe, functional design that meets the needs of the individuals using the building. Finally, as the project progresses, an architect must offer the homeowner additional drawings as required, resolve issues, answer questions and ensure everything goes as planned.

How Much Does an Architect Cost?

The costs of an architect vary considerably depending on skill level, project size, payment methods, and individual architect.

Roughly, hiring an architect costs an average of $5,296, or from $2,016 to $8,576, to do your architectural drawings. Most architects charge between 5% to 20 % of the total project costs. It means that if your residential projects cost $100,000, the cost of the architect will range from $5,000 to $20,000.

Are these figures constant?

Architect fees will also highly vary depending on the area you are in. To know what it will cost you, you can request a quotation from a minimum of three architects to make a comparison.

Architect drawing custom house plans and blueprints

Image Source: houseguide.com

Are there other considerations?

Note that when hiring the top architecture firms, the costs will differ depending on the member who works on your architectural design and the project. In addition, their experience will determine the price because a principal architect with more of it will charge a higher fee than a recruit with limited experience.

Let’s look at some fee structures used by architects:

1. Percentage of Construction Cost

The percentage of construction costs remains one of the most popular fee structures used by architects. Remember that architects charge 8%-15% of the total project costs. Also, depending on the project’s complexity, remodeling work can go as high as 15% to 20%. Moreover, new construction can go as low as 5%.

2. Square Foot Method

The square foot fee structure of calculating costs is not common for small remodels. However, the method is common for larger ones worth the architect’s time. For instance, if you want to remodel a bathroom, a square-foot pricing technique may not be attractive enough for the architect to design.

In contrast, if you have larger projects, such as the expansion or construction of your home, the architect may view the square foot calculation as suitable. You can expect to pay $2 to $10 per square foot. The square-per-foot method is beneficial because you can determine the exact architecture fee to add to your total construction costs if you can determine the size of your building. 

3. Fixed Fees

It is rare for an architect to offer a fixed fee instead of the fee that fluctuates with the construction cost. Instead, architects charge fixed fees for smaller projects where they view the scope of work as straightforward and easy to estimate upfront.

However, they do not charge fixed fees for larger projects because of various variables included in the design and construction process. Therefore, your architect fee may increase during construction if any complications arise. Remember that you must read the contract keenly to understand what it covers and does not cover if your architect provides a flat fee.

4. Hourly Fees

It would help if you recognized that an hourly architect fee is costly for large projects but they are ideal for smaller ones. Nevertheless, an hourly fee is desirable if you need to fix or remodel a bathroom or expand your home. Alternatively, it would be too costly if you were constructing a new apartment.

Hiring an architect using this method will cost you $125 to $250 per hour for a project manager or principal architect. On the lower end, when you hire an intern architect, you will pay $65 to $90 per hour. However, an intern architect will work alongside a higher-level architect. As a result, you may have to pay for both.

Commercial Architect Fees

Commercial Architect Fees

Image Source: blog.bimsmith.com

There exists a difference in the architect fees between residential and commercial buildings due to their distinctions in construction.

Hiring an architect for commercial construction remains higher than residential architect costs. As a result, you will expect a total building cost of approximately $2.5% -12%. However, the cost will depend on the complexity and project scope. Note that the total percentage cost of the construction is lower than residential, but commercial work is at a larger scale compared to its counterpart.

For instance, an apartment with many detailing will fall on the higher side of the total construction cost percentage, while a simpler project, such as a warehouse, will fall on the lower range. Moreover, the more costly a construction is, the lower the percentage charged on the total cost of the building.

Residential Architect Fees

Residential Architectural Fees

Image Source: Pintrest.com

The base architect price for your residential building may be approximately $3,000 to $ 8,000 for the framework without any extras. However, a basic new building with bidding, electrical, cabinetry, project management, and construction costs up to 19%, while remodels cost 20%.

Therefore, when you add other costs for a new construction or custom house, including multiple construction documents such as electrical, the cost increase to approximately $10,000 -$60,000. Bear in mind that the bigger the home, the more the costs. More so, the project complexity determines the construction cost. In contrast, for additions and remodeling projects, the cost is approximately 12%-20% of the total work or $20,000-$70,000.

Other Costs to Consider

Other Costs to consider

Image Source: mybuilder.com

1. Structural Engineer Costs

The costs of structural engineers are separate because they play a distinct role in the building process. The individuals assist in evaluating the validity of your project. Their charges vary depending on their location, experience, and whether they work as a team, in a firm, or independently.

2. Planning Applications Cost

It would be best if you considered planning application costs. Your architect may include the costs in their fee to manage and submit the application, or you can choose to pay the fees to your local authority.

3. Inspection and Building Control Costs

Before you renovate or construct a property, you must submit Full Plans or Building Notices to the local authority to obtain building permits. Submitting Full Plans for approval will require you to pay a plan charge to cover the rejection or passing of the plan. You will further be required to pay inspection charges for work that connects to the plan.

When Do You Need an Architect?

When do you need an architect?

Image Source: sweeten.com

An architect is a protected word utilized by accredited practitioners. However, other professionals can draw a plan for you for a new home or home extension. Hence, you may not require an architect, but you may need other professionals in the field, such as interior designers, architectural technicians, or architect drafters.

Let us look at their differences:

1. Architectural Technicians

The architectural technician can draw a plan for you, which is less costly. However, remember that they will not provide the full services that an architect can offer.

2. Architectural Drafting Service

The drafter performs the technical drawing of the construction by graphically illustrating the construction plans. In addition, when you need to know where the plumbing, electrical, and other details will go, a drafter can help. Subsequently, drafters are less costly than architects; however, they cannot provide the full services offered by architects. Plus, the dafters are not permitted to design and engineer activities, and architects sign their work to confirm their accuracy.

3. Interior Designers

An interior designer concentrates on the inside of your house and designs the interior. Nevertheless, an interior designer is not an architect, but an architect performs interior design. Still, if you need to renovate the interiors of your house, you will need to consult an interior designer instead of an architect.

4. Architectural Designer

Architectural designers are below the architects and do not have licenses. However, they are a few steps away from becoming accredited. As a result, an architectural designer cannot offer you stamped papers needed by government agencies. Therefore, you will need an architect for such to continue with your project. Moreover, an architect is necessary when you do not have the engineering aspects of the blueprint, including the building framing and structure, and when you have to fix your home.

5. Home/Building Designers

These designers specialize in designing private homes. However, they lack the technical and structural expertise of a licensed architect.

What Aspects Influence the Cost of Hiring an Architect?

What factors influence the cost of hiring an architect?

Image Source: architectureartdesigns.com

Architectural firms will provide you with an estimate of your building design process depending on various factors.

    • The number of square feet to construct or renovate

    • The conditions of the site

    • The complexity of the required design work

    • The detail level offered for a project

    • Architect’s experience and capabilities

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions on house construction cost

Image Source: NY-engineers.com

1. Why Are Architectural Drawings Important?

Architectural drawings are important because they ensure an effective and efficient building process with limited errors. More so, the architectural drawings give homeowners a better idea of what their homes will look like. Additionally, your architectural design will ensure that the final building aligns with the design.

What are more, architectural drawings assist the owner in visualizing their completed homes and obtaining an accurate cost estimate. An inaccurate drawing leads to misunderstandings between the homeowner and the builder, leading to increased costs. Therefore, ensure that you hire the right architect to prevent such issues.

2. Why Do I Need Architectural Design Services?

The architectural design services are critical in the progress of your project as they offer a roadmap for construction workers, prevent costly errors, and bring clarity to your vision. Plus, you can have a project manager overseeing your whole project to reduce the hassle of doing it yourself.

3. How Much Do Architects Charge for Blueprints or Construction Drawings?

For average home construction, blueprints are charged at approximately $2,000-$20,000. However, the prices do not include extra costs such as construction information and revisions.

4. How Much Is an Architect Paid?

The yearly salary of an architect is $50,000- $140,000, depending on their experience. However, junior architects earn an hourly income of $60-$100, while senior architects earn an hourly income of $160-$350.

When you think of architecture, what immediately comes to your mind?

If you dare think of modern stadiums and towering glass skyscrapers, probably the majority of people would agree with you. Of course, you will never realize that you lack the skills when staying at home, but it is a necessity.

Hence, you can either redo a space or turn your house into a new house by hiring an architect. Yet, how much does an architect cost? This booklet is targeted at making architectural fees understandable to you.

Nevertheless, before we move on into the expenses involved, let us consider their work.

Who Is An Architect?

Image Source: ctfassets.net

An architect is a white-collar artisan trained in the science and art of construction design. They formulate the general concept of the designs and transform the ideas into images and plans, which are the offices, homes, and other structures. Architecture is not only about the looks of a building.

This includes the development of a design that is safe and functional and accommodates the needs of the occupants of the building. Ultimately, as the project progresses, an architect has to give the homeowner additional drawings if necessary, solve the problems, answer the questions and ensure the completion of the job is paid.

How Much Does An Architect Cost?

The costs of the architects are influenced by many factors such as skill level, project size, mode of payment, and the particular architect.

The general range to hire an architect is $5,296 or from $2,016 to $8,576 charged to have your architectural drawings made. Architects fees usually start from 5% to 20% of the project costs. That is to say, if your residential projects cost $100,000, the architect fee will range from $5,000 to $20,000.

Are these figures constant?

Another important factor of the architecture fees is the region in which you are going to be located. Request quotations from at least three architects to get an idea of what each one will cost you.

Are there other considerations?

Keep in mind that the top architecture firms have different hiring fees and this depends which experienced designer works on your architectural design and the project. Besides that, the experience of an architect also plays an important role as the latter will charge a higher fee in comparison to a young architect.

Let’s look at some fee structures used by architects:

1. Percentage Of Construction Cost

One of the commonly used fee structures in construction is the lump sum percentage. Please be aware that architects' fees range from 8% to 15% of the total construction budget. On the other hand, the remodeling cost may be as low as 15% to 20% of the project’s complexity. Therefore, new building can be up to 5%.

2. Square Foot Method

Small remodels do not often charge on a square foot basis unlike the usual process. On the other hand, a drawing is used more often for larger projects that require longer attention of an architect. For example, it may not be economically feasible for the architect to design a square-foot budget for remodeling a bathroom.

In contrast, if you have larger projects, such as the expansion or construction of your house, the architect may regard square foot calculation as the good one. On average, you can expect to pay $2 to $10 per square foot. The square-per-foot method is advantageous because you get the exact architecture fees to add to your total construction cost once you find out the size of your building.

3. Fixed Fees

An architect typically does not offer a fixed fee except with the fee that goes in accordance to the construction cost. Instead of this, architects usually charge a fixed fee for smaller projects according to which the architects find the scope of work as predictable and it is rather easy to calculate upfront.

However, they do not have fixed prices for larger projects due to different factors consider in design and construction process. Consequently, if any complications come up, your architect fee may increase during the construction process. Keep in your mind that you need to carefully read the contract to understand what is and what is not.

4. Hourly Fees

Consider that an hourly architect fee is expensive for large projects, but these fees are excellent for small projects. Nonetheless, an hourly fee is an advantage if you want to repair or remodel your bathroom or expand your house. In contrast, you may find it expensively if you are building a new apartment.

Using this method, you will have to spend $125 to $250 per hour for a project manager or principal architect. At the bottom, when you hire an intern architect, it will cost you $65-$90 per hour. Nonetheless, an intern architect will work together with a higher-level architect. As a consequence, you might end up paying for both.

Commercial Architect Fees

Image Source: blog.bimsmith.com

The architectural cost difference between a residential building and a commercial building is due to their structural distinction.

The cost of hiring an architect for commercial construction is higher than the cost for residential architects. Hence, you can anticipate a complete building cost to be around $2. 5-12%. The price, however, will vary depending on the level of complexity and the project scope. Note that the aggregate percentage cost of the construction is less than residential, but the commercial work is bigger in comparison to its opposite.

As for example, a unit with many details will be in a higher position on the construction cost range, whereas a simple project, like a warehouse, will be on the lower range. Similarly, higher buildings are charged a relatively low percentage in comparison to the total cost of the building.

Residential Architect Fees

Image Source: Pintrest.com

The base architect price for your small house may amount to $3,000 to $ 8,000 without anything extra. While the basic new building will carry bidding, electrical, cabinetry, project management, and construction costs up to 19%, remodels on the other hand function at 20%.

That is why, when you have other costs for a new construction or custom house, including multiple construction documents as electrical, the cost usually increases from $10,000 -$60,000. Remember that the bigger the home the higher the costs will be. Besides that, it is the project complexity that sets the construction cost. However, in the case of renovations and remodeling, the cost is about 12%-20% of the whole work or $20,000-$70,000.

Other Costs To Consider

Image Source: mybuilder.com

1. Structural Engineer Costs

The price of structural engineers is not the same, because they have a different function. The people help you in judging the reliability of your project. The charges they make differ based on the location, experience, and whether they are in a firm, a team, or working independently.

2. Planning Applications Cost

You should include application costs into you planning. The architect could incorporate these costs in their fee for managing and submitting the application, or you might prefer to pay for it separately to your local authority.

3. Inspection And Building Control Costs

For revamping or constructing any property, you need to submit either the Full Plans or the Building Notices to the local authority to secure the building permits. You will be required to pay a plan fee to cover for either the rejection of a plan or the plan passing. Additionally, you will fork out inspection fees for anything linked to the plan.

When Do You Need An Architect?

Image Source: sweeten.com

The word "architect" is a protected term that only those who are accredited may use. Yet, there are other building professionals who can design a plan for you for a new home or an extension to your current property. Consequently, although you may not need an architect, you may require a number of professionals in the industry, including interior designers, architectural technicians, and architect drafters.

Let us look at their differences:

1. Architectural Technicians

The architectural technician can put together a plan for you that is cheaper. Nonetheless, keep in mind that they are not able to give the whole services which an architect can.

2. Architectural Drafting Service

The drafter executes technical drawing of the construction by graphically drawing the construction plans. Moreover, when you have to figure out where the plumbing, electricity, and other elements will be installed, a drafter can help you. Next, drafters are definitely cheaper compared to architects but cannot substitute architects’ services fully. On the other hand, the draftsmen are not allowed to create or invent activities, and architects sign their work as proof.

3. Interior Designers

An interior designer focuses on the indoor space of your home and designs the inside of it. However, an interior designer is not an architect, but an architect does interior design. In addition, if you are planning to remodel the interiors of your house, you should meet with an interior designer rather than an architect.

4. Architectural Designer

Architectural designers are under the architects and they do not have licenses. Nevertheless, they are one or two steps short of being accredited. This will not allow the architectural designer to provide you with stamped drawings required by government agencies. Thus, you will need the services of an architect for your project to continue. Therefore, an architect is important when you do not have engineering aspects of the blueprints such as the building framing, structure and when you need to repair your home.

5. Home/Building Designers

This category of designers crafts only private houses. On the other hand, they are not able to provide the professional and technical experience of a licensed architect.

What Aspects Influence The Cost Of Hiring An Architect?

Image Source: architectureartdesigns.com

Architectural firms will provide you with an estimate of your building design process depending on various factors.

  • The number of square feet to construct or renovate
  • The conditions of the site
  • The complexity of the required design work
  • The detail level offered for a project
  • Architect’s experience and capabilities

Frequently Asked Questions

Image Source: NY-engineers.com

1. Why Are Architectural Drawings Important?

Architectural drawings are significant as they make the building process effective and efficient with less errors. Furthermore, the architect's drawings help house owners visualize what their homes would look like. In addition, your architectural design will make sure that the completed building matches the design.

Besides this, architectural drawings help the owner visualize their finished dwellings thus come up with an accurate cost estimate. The wrong drawing may confuse the homeowner and the builder which eventually leads to extra costs. Hence, make sure you hire the right architect to solve such issues.

2. Why Do I Need Architectural Design Services?

The architectural design services have a huge role in achieving your objectives because they give a pathway to construction workers, they avoid costly mistakes and your vision becomes clear. Furthermore, you are able to have a project manager that controls the whole project thereby reducing the amount of work required by you.

3. How Much Do Architects Charge For Blueprints Or Construction Drawings?

For typical home construction, blueprints are charged at roughly $2,000-$20,000. Yet, the costs do not include additional expenses like construction plan and revisions.

4. How Much Is An Architect Paid?

The annual salary of an architect is $50,000 - $140,000, which varies depending on their experience. On the other hand, junior architects could earn an hourly payment of $60-$100, while senior architects can attain an hourly payment of $160-$350.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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