How Much Does An Architect Cost?

Typical Range:

$1,976 - $9,483

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,398 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated August 22, 2022

Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Architect fees typically fall between 5% and 20% of the total project cost. For an average 2,700 square foot home with a build cost of $300,000, that comes out to $15,000 to $60,000. Less commonly, they charge $125 to $250 per hour, and a few pros charge $2 to $10 per square foot.

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National Average $5,729
Typical Range $1,976 - $9,483
Low End - High End $550 - $40,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,398 HomeAdvisor members.

How Do Architects Charge?

Fee StructureAverage Cost
Hourly Rate (Principal)$150 – $250
Hourly Rate (Project Manager)$125 – $150
Hourly Rate (Intern)$65 – $90
Per Square Foot$2 – $15
Percentage5% – 20%
Drawing Plans$2,000 – $20,000

Architect Hourly Rate

If you hire an architect on an hourly basis, expect $125 to $250 per hour for a principal or project manager level architect. Intern architects typically run $65 to $90 per hour, but they need to work alongside a higher level architect, so you'll likely see a bill for both.

Hourly rates make sense for smaller projects or to solve a specific design issue. If you need limited services, such as simple building plans, you might be able to use an hourly rate—alternatively, you could hire an architectural draftsperson.

Architect Cost Per Square Foot

You’ll pay anywhere from $2 to $15 per square foot for an architect. This billing method is not often used because there is a lot of variation in the level of effort required by a project. Each phase of work can be separated into a cost per square foot as follows:

  • Concept development and drafts: $2–$5 per square foot, including preliminary design consultation, site visit, and initial draft documents.

  • Construction documents: $2–$5 per square foot with detailed drawings for all construction elements, from framing to electrical and plumbing.

  • Project management or administration: $2–$5 per square foot, depending on the level of onsite construction oversight and document administration.

Percentage of Construction Cost

Architects charge 8% to 15% of the total construction cost for most projects. For example, a typical home build costs $115,000 to $450,000, making the total architect fee $9,200 to $67,500, with an average of $32,500.

Fees can go as high as 15% to 20% for remodeling projects and as low as 5% for new construction jobs, depending on the project's complexity. Percentage-based pricing is the most common and ethical as it clearly defines the project budget, so find a professional architect near you who uses this fee structure. 

Combination

Although rare, some architects use a combination of percentage, hourly, and per square foot billing, depending on the phase of work. Typically, hourly rates are used for the schematic and design phases to incentivize the client to be available and present changes promptly. After the design is settled, the project’s scope is better known, and a more accurate per square foot or percentage fee can be assessed.

Architectural Plans

Expect to pay from $2,000 to $20,000 for a set of architectural plans. The cost of plans for a small addition will be on the lower end versus the cost of plans for a large, fully-custom home on the higher end. Note that this price range does not include the cost of additional drawing services, like design revisions, project management, or construction oversight. Most projects require extra design revisions along the way.

Included in architectural plans—also called construction drawings or blueprints—are detailed drawings for every part of your new-build home. Plan types include exterior site plans, floor plans, roof plans, elevation views, basement or foundation plans, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans.

Fixed Fees

Architects might charge a fixed fee for smaller projects where the scope of work is clearly defined. Fixed fee pricing is ideal as a client because you know exactly what the cost will be upfront; however, it’s hard for an architect to estimate as there are many variables in design and construction processes. For this reason, architects rarely use fixed-fee pricing. Minor revisions are often included in fixed-fee pricing.

5 additional costs for architect services, including reimbursables, building permits, and land surveys
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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Architect Add Ons and Additional Fees

In addition to the costs related to plan design, architects may offer additional services for your project:

  • Reimbursables: Reimbursable expenses cover any cost outside of design services. This category could include the cost of printing or shipping design plans, travel expenses like mileage and airfare, and more.

  • 3D renderings: $200–$800 per image. Some homeowners request 3D realistic design renderings to visualize their proposed project before it is built.

  • Design revisions: Major changes made during the design phase or addressing any changes made during construction will cost extra. The cost of minor design revisions might already be included in the base price. Still, you may want to ask the architect candidate what type of revisions constitute additional charges during the hiring process. 

  • Building permits: $1,200–$2,000. Your architect will need to submit design plans to obtain a building permit; therefore, expect them to bill for the building permit cost.

  • Land surveys: $200–$1,100. You’ll likely only need a land survey for new home construction; however, some more extensive remodels or additions may require one. If your architect directly hires the land surveyor, they will charge you for the land survey cost.

Architectural Fees for Residential Projects

Most homeowners report spending between $2,000 and $9,500 to hire an architect. However, this price likely reflects only initial plans, small projects, or partial services. Most architects report charging 8% to 15% of the total construction cost for residential services, depending on the budget and project complexity.

An architect is an asset to any project that requires building a new structure or fundamentally altering a current structure. Architects perform various functions with a wide skill set, including:

  • Creating plans, blueprints, and construction documents

  • Working as your agent as well as a planner, manager, and construction administrator to help you evaluate bids and select a contractor

  • Understanding engineering, structural and spatial relationships, planning, applicable building codes, and zoning regulations

Remodel or Home Addition

Architectural services for remodels and home additions tend to cost 12% to 20% of the total construction cost. Home addition costs range from $20,000 to $70,000, which means you’ll pay $2,400 to $14,000 in architectural fees. Architects charge more for remodel and addition projects than new construction for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Unknown conditions. Unlike new construction, the condition of building materials and utilities behind walls and out-of-sight locations is unknown in existing homes. Unknown conditions typically require more design revisions.

  • More hands-on work. Most pros won’t write up initial plans and leave it at that. Architects will need to be onsite more often to assess conditions and make changes as the project progresses.

  • Code compliance. Any time you update an existing home, you must bring any altered areas up to the current building code. For example, if you open up an existing wall, the electrical, plumbing, and framing might need an update to current standards.

Custom House Plans

Basic custom house plans that do not include any other services or construction documents run $3,000 to $8,000 on average. Detailed construction documents that include specifications for electrical, cabinetry, appliances, and plumbing will cost closer to $10,000 to $60,000, with an average cost of $30,000 for a $300,000 build price.

Typical Commercial Architectural Fees

Depending on the project scope and complexity, an architect charges anywhere from 2.5% to 12% of the total construction cost, or $8,000 to $3,000,000. For example, a warehouse might fall on the low end of the spectrum, with fees in the 2.5% to 8% range, while a luxury high-rise building would fall on the high end, with fees in the 8% to 12% range. As total project costs increase, the fee can sometimes decrease due to the scaling of design services.

Architectural Design Fees Schedule

Phases of WorkPercentage of Fee
Pre-DesignVaries
Schematic Design15% – 20%
Design Development10% – 20%
Construction Documents40%
Bidding and Negotiation5%
Construction Administration20% – 25%

Phases of Work

The design process consists of five or six design phases. The phases of work start with initial planning and end with complete construction.

  1. Pre-design: This is an initial design consultation meeting with your architect. You will start your project discussion, determine priorities and goals, and gather initial information.

  1. Schematic design: Also known as preliminary design, your architect creates a conceptual design during this phase. This high-level design plan is considered a rough draft that you will review with your architect before moving forward. A site visit might also be included.

  1. Design development: After you have accepted the schematic design plan, your architect will turn it into a more detailed and technical plan. You will finalize the design and select material colors and finishes at this time.

  1. Construction documents: During this phase, your architect will produce fully-detailed technical plans and specifications. The hard copy blueprints will be submitted for building permits and solicited for contractor bids.

  1. Bidding and negotiation: If you choose, your architect can help you review contractor bids. This can be helpful as an architect will know what level of quality and cost to expect for services.

  1. Construction administration: Optionally, your architect can handle the administration of your construction project. If you have never dealt with a construction project before, you may want to consider requesting a quote from your architect to manage the project. This could include approving change requests, submitting progress payments, and settling disputes. Administration entails an extra cost of around $2 to $5 per square foot or 20% to 25% of the overall fee.

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How to Know If You Need an Architect

Whether or not you need an architect depends on the scope of your project. If you have to submit design drawings in order to receive a building permit, you need to hire an architect. A building permit is required when building a new home and for most additions and remodels.

There are other times when an architect’s services aren’t necessarily required, but might allow you to make the best decisions for your home. Architects can consult on floor plan suggestions, historic home remodeling, or recommendations for energy-efficiency upgrades.

What's the difference between an architect and a draftsperson?

The difference between a draftsperson vs. an architect comes mainly from their education and the scope of work they do. An architect draws plans in addition to managing projects, stamping approvals, negotiating work, and overseeing all aspects of a project. A draftsperson mainly works within the document designing phase of what an architect does. Some municipalities accept plans created by a draftsperson if those plans are also certified by a licensed structural engineer.

What's the difference between an architect and a home designer?

A home designer focuses more on a home’s aesthetic and how it looks and functions. An architect can also provide this service but might not get as far into the details as you need. An architect focuses more on the technicalities of a design in order to meet building codes. When comparing architects vs. interior designers, you might find that you want to hire both.

Hiring the Right Architect

The architect you hire for your new build or home remodel plays a considerable role in your project’s success and satisfaction. Take your time and select an architect with whom you feel comfortable working and confident in their abilities.

You will work with the architect and their team to transform your needs and wants into a functional project that meets your budget. Look for an architect with a genuine enthusiasm for your project, great communication skills, and a strong portfolio of similar projects.

Questions to Ask

Use careful consideration when hiring an architect. You want to find an architect compatible with your project’s needs. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ask these vital questions as you interview potential architects:

  • What is your design philosophy? Design philosophy is how the architect approaches the design, such as organic, modern, functional, or industrial.

  • What’s your experience with projects like mine? You want to be sure that the architect has the expertise to handle a project of the size and type you want.

  • What challenges, issues, or considerations do you foresee? This will let you know where the architect expects difficulties that may require design changes.

  • What is the estimated time to handle this project? Timelines can vary quite a bit depending on your project’s complexity and how booked up the architect is with other projects.

  • How do you bill? Knowing whether the architect charges hourly, percentage, or per square foot will help you understand and manage the budget.

  • What are your base services, and what would incur additional fees? Be sure you know what is included in the base package. Also, find out which services the architect thinks your project needs.

There are many moving parts in the design and construction processes. Make it a point to understand as much as possible to put your mind at ease, including the following legal considerations.

  • Ownership of the plans: Who legally owns the design documents? The standard contract from the AIA designates the copyright to the plans belonging to the architect. The client gets a one-time use of those copyrighted plans.

  • Design errors: Who pays for design errors? Even though a contractor is expected to “check and verify all dimensions” before beginning work, some errors still get through. Fortunately, you can usually work these minor errors out between you, the architect, and the contractor.

  • Construction defects: How are construction defects handled? The project team should inform the client about any apparent substandard work, but the liability for construction defects falls ultimately on the building contractor.

FAQs

How long does it take for an architect to draw up plans?

Depending on project size and level of detail, an architect can take anywhere from 1 to 4 months to draw up plans. After the initial project consultation, the first draft drawings take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. Commercial project drawings take much longer, anywhere from 2 to 10 months.

Why are architectural drawings important?

Architectural drawings are important for multiple reasons, including:

  • Detailed drawings ensure an efficient building process without minimal errors.

  • Many permitting agencies require architectural building plans.

  • Homeowners get a clear idea of what their home or addition will look like before the project starts.

  • Construction documents allow contractors, designers, and homeowners to share the project's vision.

How much does an architect make?

An architect’s salary ranges anywhere from $46,000 to $130,000 on average. Depending on experience, hourly rates range from $65 to $250 per hour.

How much do architects charge for blueprints?

Architects charge anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 for blueprints. This cost depends on the complexity of your project. Blueprints for a simple floor plan rearrangement or small addition will cost much less than a two-story new construction home. This cost range does not account for design revisions or other additional fees.

Are architects worth the money?

Architects are almost always worth the money—if you are spending a large amount of money building a new home or remodeling your existing one, you want to make sure you are making the best decision from a layout and structural perspective, as well as building with code restrictions in mind. An architect will provide you with multiple design options that are customized to your budget and house needs.

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