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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do architects work?

Architects may work for an architecture or engineering firm, they may work for a government organization, they can work for a construction company, or they may be self-employed (freelance). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that architects spend a large amount of their working time in the home or company office: meeting with clients; creating reports and architectural drawings; and working with other architects and engineers. When not in an office, an architect is often at the construction site either as part of the development of plans or to ensure building progress is following the blueprint.

When a client interacts with an architect, it is typically to have them design drawings for the construction of a house or a building. If you are a client who has hired a large architecture firm, there may be a team of people working on your design. But if you are working with a freelance architect or a smaller firm, one person (or a small group) will take your concept and translate it into an architectural blueprint that a builder can use to construct a house. The plans will lay out everything from the depth of the foundation to the materials to use to the type of metal to be used in the reinforcement. Once the plans have been created and handed off to the builder, the architect may remain on the project — depending on budget — and oversee progress.

How do architects charge for their services?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary of an architect in 2016 was $76,930. This range included architects with every type of company as well as self-employed architects. Depending on the architect and whether they’re with a firm or independent, they may charge per hour or by the square foot, or they may charge a percentage of the total budget for a construction project. An hourly rate is typically used for smaller projects such as providing consultation, helping clients hone their concept before the design process begins, or drafting documents and plans. If an architect is working on an hourly basis on a larger project, there will usually be an agreed-upon cap on the number of hours they will work. For larger projects, such as new construction or total overhaul remodels, architects may charge a percentage of the total construction costs. The architect will usually set the percentage you will pay after the total cost of construction has been accounted for. Percentages can range within a firm depending on the extent of the services they’re providing. For example, a lower percentage of the total construction costs may include drafting and minimal consultation and guidance along the way, while a higher percentage could include on-site project management services with every detail attended to. Architects may also charge by the square footage of the project. The rate per square foot can vary depending on the individual’s training, the services they are providing, the complexity of the project, and other factors — such as obtaining permits. The national average cost to hire an architect is between $1,690 and $2,500.

What do house plans consist of?

In a house plan, you can expect to see an overview of the construction site, floor plans, roof plans, foundation plans, electrical plans, exterior elevation and more. Always ask your architect what they plan to include in your house plan.

Reviews for Ashburn architects
Thumbtack Customer
Vahid drew a plan that I later took to the San Francisco city department of building inspection and from the first try, changes to the apartment that we were planning to remodel had been approved. That tells me that Vahid is an architect who knows exactly what he is doing. He has printed 4 copies of the plan even though San Francisco department of building inspection requires only 2 copies. All 4 copies have been included into a price. I am definitely his client if I ever will need architectural plans drawn again in the future.
California Design OfficeCalifornia Design Office
Nicole K.
I have worked with many architects in the past and working with Isaac was a breeze. He is responsive and very detailed on his answers. We wanted to keep things simple in our remodel; with minimal City requirements impact and being able to move things thru the SF system in an expedited manner. Isaac was able to achieve that, even in the middle of a pandemic. Isaac has good ideas, he is OK pulling back when needed or expanding when asked. His flexibility without taking anything personal is a really good trait. I'm certain this was a small job for him but still treated us with utmost respect and followed up with us and the City just as if this was a huge lucrative job. His experience is vast and I will definitely call him weather is to do a new build or another house remodel. Thanks Isaac, I was really busy to handle this one and working with you was awesome!
Strackbein ArchitectureStrackbein Architecture
Djuna R.
If I had another home project for renovation, I would totally work with Sarah again. My bathroom renovation was our first home renovation ever and being an obsessive researcher, I contacted every "highly qualified" architect in the SF area who had reasonable fees and time to take me in as a client. (It's crazy busy in Bay Area!) I picked Sarah because she: 1) Was easy to talk to, 2) was very Informative, 3) was transparent, 4) could understand my style and goals, and 5) Had reasonable pricing. She has a very strong background in Commercial design and has been slowly taking on personal residential projects. As someone who has never done any renovations before, I felt very comfortable working with her and communicating with her especially in the process of choosing designs, which I had no clue about. The construction company I picked is still in progress with my bathroom but as soon as it is ready, I will have it posted here. Thank you Sarah for a great experience thus far!
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