How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Architect?

by Team eLocal
Close-up image of engineer drawing blueprint of building

Sometimes, the homes on the market aren’t exactly what you want. Sure, the new house is close to the office … but you’re going to have to share the single bathroom with your entire family.

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But what if we said you really could have it all? That’s where an architect comes in. They can help you realize your dreams by designing a brand-new house or renovating your current place.

If you're planning to build a new custom home or do a major renovation to your existing home, understanding the average architect cost helps you plan your budget. The costs can vary depending on the scope of the project and other factors.

How Do Architects Charge?

Architects use various fee structures, which might vary by company or by job. Common ways for architects to charge include:

  • Hourly: This is a traditional method with a set hourly rate, with the final bill based on the exact number of hours worked. Architects might use this method when they don't know how long a project will take or the scope of the project isn't clearly defined. According to data from Fixr, the hourly rate could range from $90 to $400 per hour, depending on the level and experience of the architect.
  • Percentage of project cost: You might find an architect who charges you a percentage of the total project cost. The percentage is usually lower the higher the project cost is — typically ranging from around 10% to 20%.
  • Cost per square foot: Some architects charge by square footage, with the price per square foot varying based on the complexity of the project. The rate typically runs between $2 and $15 per square foot. This method is usually only used for smaller projects because it can be difficult to grasp the scope of larger projects before starting to set an accurate price.
  • Fixed rates: For some portions of the process, the architect might charge a fixed rate. This is usually only used for architecture tasks that are well-defined so the architect has a good understanding of how much work will be required.

Some architects use a mix of methods for a project. For example, the drawing and planning phase might happen at an hourly rate followed by a fixed-rate portion while the architect oversees the project. Make sure you understand how you'll be charged before hiring an architect.

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How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Architect to Design a Custom House?

When you have an architect design a custom home, you can expect to pay between $25,000 and $70,000 on average for the entire process. If you only want the architect to do the custom plans and not oversee the construction, you can expect a total architect cost of $10,000 to $30,000. Custom homes with plans drawn from scratch are often the most expensive for homeowners because the architect puts so much time into them. You can save some money by starting with a stock home plan and having your architect customize it.

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How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Architect to Design a Renovation or Addition?

For a major home renovation, your architect cost will likely fall between $3,000 and $9,000. If you want the architect to oversee the construction process, you can expect the cost to at least double. The price is similar for a home addition.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Landscape Architect?

Landscape architects vary in pricing depending on the scope of the project, but you could pay between $6,000 and $16,000 for a large project with detailed drawings. Landscape designers typically charge less, with an average cost between $300 and $2,500. Both types of professionals can help you plan your landscape, but you might want to hire a landscape architect for major projects.

Are There Other Costs Involved in Hiring an Architect?

There can be additional fees that go into creating plans for a new home, addition or renovation. Your architect might need to do a land survey. If the architect hires someone to do the survey, they'll likely pass the cost onto you. They might also charge you building permit fees. If you want a 3D rendering of your design plans, this will likely cost extra.

What Factors Can Impact the Price?

One major factor in the price is the architect's level and experience. An architect intern will be on the low end of the cost scale, usually between $90 and $150 per hour. If you choose someone with three to seven years of experience, the price bumps up to around $150 to $350 per hour. For a senior or principal architect, you can expect to pay $350 to $400 per hour.

The amount of involvement from the architect also impacts the cost. If you only want the architect to draw the plans, you'll have a much lower cost. You'll often pay thousands more if you have the architect oversee the construction process.

The scope of the project and any changes you make will also cause the price to fluctuate. Small, simple projects naturally cost less because they involve less work than large, intricate projects. No matter what the scope of the project is, making changes to what you want after the architect is well into the project will increase the price. You can also have extra costs if you run into issues during construction that require the architect to rework the plans.

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