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.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


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.

Who Is an Architect?

Who is an architect?

Image Source:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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.
Related Articles

CGI Architecture Rendering: History and Benefits

When we hear the term 'CGI', our minds might dart straight to blockbuster movies with jaw-dropping visual effects. But did ...

restaurant layout

12 Most Efficient and Classy Restaurant Layout Ideas

In today's competitive restaurant industry, success depends not only on the quality of food and service but also on the ...

build to suit

Build to Suit: What Does It Mean in Construction?

Building to suit (BTS) involves customizing a private or commercial property from the ground up to accommodate the client's specific ...