Architects have extensive training, experience, and insider knowledge in drafting house plans for the home of your dreams. Along with designing house plans, an architect is well-versed in selecting materials and finishes within your budget and maximizing square footage in a building project. They can even oversee the construction of your home from beginning to end.

Although some homeowners may be able to remodel without the assistance of an architect successfully, if you or someone you know possess the skills necessary to generate a house plan, a trained architect can offer invaluable benefits. A reputable architect will draft a house plan and provide valuable insight to guarantee your home building team executes your vision. As an additional benefit, an architect will outline how much the construction process will cost the homeowner.

For those homeowners considering hiring an architect, you’ll need to understand the costs involved. This guide will overview the basics of architect fees, so you’re prepared for additional expenses should they arise.

Understanding the Architect’s Fees

Architects set their fees depending on the type of work they’re performing. For example, an architect can charge an hourly rate for planning, drafting, and designing, and tack on a flat rate for the rest of the work. The most popular methods of billing are percentage-based, fixed prices, and set hourly fees. A homeowner should prepare to spend about 5% of the total construction costs on house plans.

Cost Per Hour

Several architectural firms charge specific projects hourly, even during the consultation phase and first point-of-contact. These costs may vary depending on who’s doing the job. For example, if a senior partner drafts your house plan, it will cost more than what a drafter or an unlicensed architectural designer would charge. The seniority and experience of the professional dictate the total cost. Note that an inexperienced architect may cost between $150 and $200 per hour, while an experienced one will likely cost $350 to $400 hourly.

Many architects charge hourly at a project’s onset to show the clients the rationale behind the bill. You can cap the hourly assignments to ensure the workload is completed quickly and efficiently.

Initially, recruiting the expertise of an architect may be costly. However, investing in an experienced architect may cost you less in the long run, as their insider knowledge and years of experience will help you save money in other areas of the building process. Unfortunately, cutting corners in the house plan drafting phase can result in unexpected costs or even delays.

Costs Per Square Foot

Generating costs per square foot is a pricing method often employed in small projects. When an architect needs to work out the design or choose the building materials before calculating the overall costs of a project, this pricing method is particularly useful.

If implemented in a larger-scale project, a cost per square foot strategy may result in the architect charging too much or too little, alienating potential clients. Therefore, it’s better to utilize this cost-per-square-foot method for a smaller project where it’s easier to measure the scope. Depending on the architect’s experience, circumstances, and complexity, you should expect to pay between $2 and $10 per square foot.

Fixed Fees

Many architects charge a fixed rate once they calculate the amount of work they need to complete and successfully iron out any issues related to the project. An architect prices a building project in the second or third phase of the building project.

Before hiring an architect, note that 40% of an architect’s fees are fixed. So, if the total bill amounts to $60,000, it will translate to $24,000 in fixed fees. These fixed expenses typically compensate an architect for oversight and project management, not planning, ordering, or drawing.

A project can start with hourly rates, transition to fixed fees, and then return to hourly compensation towards the end of the project when the majority of the architect’s work involves resolving unforeseen issues and tidying up the job.

Several firms should take a closer look at each project before finalizing a payment schedule. With a thorough assessment, clients will benefit from this level of transparency, while properly compensating their home building team for their efforts. Before signing any contract, review every detail about these charges to prevent any misunderstandings later.

Types of Home Plans

Stock home plans are readily-available drawings that you can purchase from an architect firm or third party. They are modifiable and come in various styles and sizes. Meaning, a homeowner can handpick the design elements of their choosing. If a homeowner is hoping to eliminate unnecessary costs, these stock home plans are considerably cheaper than custom plans.

On the other hand, custom house plans allow you to attain the size and style of home you envisioned. You can request the architect add specific features and design elements while adhering to local building codes—sparing you from any unnecessary building complications. In light of these extra customization features, a custom house plan will cost more than a stock house plan.

The architect can perform a consultation for free or may charge a $150-350 hourly fee. Drawing initial plans will cost you between $350 to $500. If you’re satisfied with the draft, you can purchase a  final drawing that is typically charged per square foot. Note that drafting a house plan for a large home will cost you more than a small one.

An Architect’s Costs for Remodeling

You will incur similar fee schedules to remodel your home, with some variations. You’ll likely need to modify the plan after the remodeling commences due to issues like asbestos, mold and old pipes, and other construction mishaps that may arise. It is up to you to keep the architect involved in the entire project or, at least, a few phases.

Before shopping for house plans, factor in your desires and budget to help you locate the right architect to draft a house plan from scratch or make modifications to existing stock house plans. To avoid project complications, hire an architect equipped to handle your project’s specifics.