Nationwide, architects cost between $50 to $150 per hour on average. Customers spend an average of $3,000 total on architectural services. However, this cost can vary due to the duration and extent of the project.
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Architects provide help with building consultation, plans, new constructions, remodels, additions and inspections. Some architects work on any number of properties, including plots of land, apartments, condos, one-story or multi-story houses, new buildings and more. Others are more specialized in their field.
Professional architectural services are available for projects of any size or deadline. Architects can offer services whether building plans have already been drafted or not — the choice is yours. Whether you’re looking to draft up custom home building plans from scratch, or need a consultation for a new addition to your home, there’s an architect in your zip code who can help.
What’s in this cost guide?
- Hourly rates for an architect
- Flat and minimum fees
- Fees as percentage of total construction cost
- Architect costs per square foot
- What affects the cost of an architect?
- How to hire an architect
- How to save money on hiring an architect
- Benefits of hiring a professional architect
- Find an architect near you
Architect hourly rate
Average rates range anywhere from $50 per hour to $150 per hour nationwide.
|National average cost
Some architects charge an hourly rate for services, such as consultation on a project, concept development before design work begins and drafting draft documents and plans.
When an architect works on an hourly basis for larger projects, there's often an agreed-upon cap on the number of hours they will work. Hourly fees vary by the firm or by an individual’s reputation, experience and training.
Flat and minimum architect fees
Some architects charge flat rates or fixed fees for common small-scale projects that they can safely calculate their time and labor on. Larger projects typically don’t have flat rates because they have too many variables to accurately assess how much time and labor will be spent.
Some architects charge a minimum fee for services to cover their time and effort in engaging with a new client. More established firms are more likely to charge this fee than those still gaining a reputation.
For example, Pattern r+d charges a minimum of $3,000 in architectural fees for interior services. Cost of an Architect per Square Foot Expect to pay $1–$3 per square foot for some projects. Square-footage-based rates vary depending on the architect’s training, the services they provide, the complexity of the project and other factors such as obtaining permits.
Architectural fees as percentage of total construction cost
For larger projects, such as new construction or total remodels, some architects charge a percentage of the total construction costs.
Typically, the pro sets the percentage customers will pay after the total cost of construction (demolition, permits, construction, floors, new windows, etc.) has been determined. Percentages can range within a firm depending on the extent of the services they provide. For example, lower percentages might include drafting with minimal consultation and guidance along the way. Higher percentages might include on-site project management services with every detail attended to.
For example, Pattern r+d in Atlanta, Georgia, typically charges 3% of the total project budget, and Archwork in Somis, California, charges 10% to 15% of total construction costs.
Expect to pay $1 to $3 per square foot for some projects. Square-footage-based rates vary depending on the architect’s training, the services they provide, the complexity of the project and other factors such as obtaining permits.
An architect's fee is affected by the size of the project, your needs, the architect's background and experience, and whether you need a one-time architecting service or require consultations with the architect on an ongoing basis. Architects may also charge different prices depending on where you live.
Architects frequently help their clients with building consultation, plans, new constructions, remodels, additions and inspections.
There are a few steps you can take to aid in your decision making and ensure that you hire an architectural firm that's the right fit for your home or your business:
- Ask for a consultation. Architects often provide consultations to assess clients’ needs, explain how they can help and estimate the cost of services. The consultation also allows clients to meet the architect and determine if it's the appropriate fit.
- Determine your budget. Figure out how much you have to spend on professional architectural services. Aligning in the beginning about your budget will save you both time and energy in the long run.
- Outline the role of the architect. Will the architect draft the plans, work with the structural engineer or choose and manage the contractor and construction documents? Outlining the architect's role early on will help to manage expectations in the long run.
- Nail down the fee structure. Are there hidden fees or extra project costs that you're unaware of? Do they charge by square feet? Make sure you understand which services are included in the architect fee before entering into a partnership with an architect.
- Read online reviews and ask for references. How does the architect handle conflict? How about a time they helped a previous client save time and/or money? Following up with references and asking these questions will ensure that you’re choosing the right architect for your needs.
- Look a past project photos. It's a cliche but it's true — a picture is worth a thousand words. Examine photos of work the architect has done in the past so you can gauge the quality of their work.
- Check their credentials. Make sure the architect you hire has the proper license and certification in your state. Visit Thumbtack's Smart Hiring guide to learn more licensure requirements in your state.
How to save money on hiring an architect
Hiring an architect is a great move for your next project, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some ways to save money on the cost of hiring an architect:
- Ask the right questions. Asking questions upfront (for example, "Do you believe I can do what I want to do for the amount I want to spend?”) will keep you from blowing your budget.
- Get your budget written into your fee agreement. If it’s in writing, you may have some recourse should you believe the architect has gone over budget without your approval or guided input and instruction.
- Obtain cost estimates along the way. Getting estimates at each phase of your project (i.e. schematic design phase, building phase, etc.) will help you stay in budget throughout the entire project.
Benefits of hiring a professional architect
Very few people realize how complicated it is to build, design and construct something — until they find themselves lost in the maze of the design process, building codes, zoning laws, building permits, contractors and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike, so there is no single, clear-cut path to follow.
Architects are professionals who have the education, training, experience and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process. They can help you define what you want to build and get the most for your construction dollar. Many architects are also members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which means they adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct intended to assure clients, the public and colleagues of their dedication to the highest standards.
When an architect looks at a project, they see the big picture. A good architect doesn't just design four walls and a roof — they create dynamic environments in which to work and live. They love to create both functional and beautiful interiors and exteriors that satisfy functional needs and are exciting.
Find an architect near you
Working with contractors and other construction professionals can be challenging, but architects can provide a bridge between you and the general contractor to make sure you’re both speaking the same language. They can help you end up with a well-designed project that meets your needs and fits within your budget and time frame.
Whether you're remodeling, adding on or building a new house from scratch, the architect can guide the way. Start your search for the best architects near you on Thumbtack.