Nationwide, architects cost between $50 – $150 per hour on average. The duration and extent of the project affect how much you’ll spend on an architect.
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?
- What Affects the Cost of an Architect?
- Flat and Minimum Fees
- Architectural Fees as Percentage of Total Construction Cost
- Hourly Rates for an Architect
- How to Hire an Architect
- How to Save Money on Hiring an Architect
- Benefits of Hiring a Professional Architect
- How Much Does an Architect Make?
What Affects the Cost of an Architect?
An architect's fee is affected by the size of the project, your needs, the background and experience of the architect, and whether you need a one-time architecting service or require consultations with the architect on an ongoing basis. Architects frequently help their clients with building consultation, plans, new constructions, remodels, additions, and inspections. Here are a few examples of how pricing varies by service from Thumbtack architects.
Flat and Minimum 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 – 15% of total construction costs.
Hourly Rates for an Architect
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 is often be 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. Average rates range anywhere from $50 per hour to $150 per hour nationwide.
For example, EGB Production & Design in Scottsdale, Arizona, charges $50 per hour.
How to Hire an Architect
There are a few steps you can take to aid in your decision making and to ensure that you hire an architectural firm who will be 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 is the appropriate fit.
- Determine your budget: Figure out how much you have to spend on professional architecting help. Aligning in the upfront 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 role of the architect in the upfront 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 and if any cost extra before entering into a partnership with an architect.
- 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.
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 in the upfront, such as, “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 – 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: from helping you define what you want to build to helping you get the most for your construction dollar. Many architects are also members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which means that 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 in professional practice.
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.
Working with contractors and other construction professionals can be challenging, so 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 works with your budget and time frame. Whether you are remodeling, adding on, or building a new house from scratch, the architect can guide the way.
How Much Does an Architect Make?
According to Glassdoor, architects make on average $86,000 per year, or $41 per hour.