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How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Architect?

Most homeowners spend between $2,541 to $4,545 nationally.
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Architects help you visualize the project before it begins. They see angles, designs and structures before contractors or even the homeowner. However, due to a myriad of factors, their prices can vary. Use this cost guide to see all the benefits of an architect, their costs, and then, let us help you get in touch with an architect near you.

National Hire an Architect Costs

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National

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$4,666

Average Cost

$70

Minimum Cost

$15,000

Maximum Cost
Average Range:

$2,541
to
$4,545

National Average Cost $4,666
Minimum Cost $70
Maximum Cost $15,000
Average Range $2,541 to $4,545
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How do we get this data? This info is based on 869 cost profiles, as reported by ImproveNet members.

Table of Contents

  1. Cost Of Architects
  2. Architect Fee Options
  3. What Architects Do
  4. Advantages Of Using Architects
  5. Disadvantages Of Using Architects
  6. Typical Projects Requiring Architects
  7. Legal Ramifications
  8. How To Find The Right Architect
  9. Architect FAQs
  10. Find An Architect

Cost Of Architects

Architect costs can vary greatly, depending on the size of your project, what you want the architect to do and the individual architect’s fee structure. An architect may charge by the hour, by the square foot or by a percentage of the total cost of the project. These rates can vary by location, but at a minimum, you’ll need to spend $800 to $1,000 to hire an architect to review and approve blueprints and other construction documents if you need a licensed architect’s approval.

Administration of your construction project is considered a fiduciary responsibility. A good architect will ensure that your contractor or structural engineer adheres to design plans and keeps modifications to a minimum. Administration is usually 5% of the budget, so plan on paying $1,500 for a $30,000 project. Most architects who charge on a percentage basis will charge 8-15% of the total cost of the project, so you can plan on spending $800 to $1,500 for every $10,000 worth of work you want done.

Overall, after analyzing more than 800 architect contracts, the average price to hire an architect is $4,666.

Cost Of Architects

Architect Fee Options

As said, there are three different payments structures architects use. Each brings it own fair share of pros and cons. Before you hire your next architect, make sure you understand the ins and outs of all architectural fees.

Architect Costs Per Hour

Architects usually charge $80 to $150 per hour if you hire them on an hourly basis. If you hire a principal, who typically runs an architectural firm, expect to pay closer to $150 per hour. If you hire a junior architect, prices typically hover around $80 per hour.

If you’re a decisive person, can decide on a design and stick to it, then an hourly basis is for you. However, if you have a hard time making decisions, hiring an architect on an hourly basis is not ideal. After all, the longer the design process takes, the more you’re going to pay.

If you fall in the latter, some homeowners add a cap. Therefore, even if the project takes 100 hours, you won’t pay more than 50 hours worth of work before a new contract is negotiated.

Architect Costs as A Percentage of the Project

You may balk at the idea of paying an architect a percentage, as the architect is in a position to drive up the total cost of a project. However, you can address this concern by communicating your total budget before the project begins. An architect can help you stay within budget if they are in charge of selecting, negotiating and overseeing contractors and subcontractors.

If you choose this option, make sure you clarify what factors counts towards the project. Some projects do not include design elements such as new lights or paint. Others do. Either way, all these costs can add up and if you’re paying a percentage of the “project cost,” everyone must be on the same page in terms of what is included.

Architect Costs Per Square Foot

If you do not need anyone to negotiate with contractors and you’re worried about hourly fees adding unnecessary costs, you may want to find an architect who will charge a flat fee or who will charge by the square foot. The only way your architect cost will go up is if you decide to add a larger addition than originally planned.

Architects can charge anywhere from $1.25 to $5 per square foot. Some may charge as much as $10 per square foot, depending on the nature of the project. You could spend $1,200 to $5,000 for each 1,000 square feet of your project.

Advantages Of Using Architects

What Architects Do

Despite their costs, in most residential construction, architects are optional. So why use an architect at all? A well-trained architect tailors a design to the individual, taking particular needs and particular locations into account. An architect is concerned with aesthetic issues, manipulating proportions, alignments, masses, voids and materials to create pleasing results. An architect specifies the use of materials, finishes and fixtures best suited to achieve the your goals. Once this is all done, the architect submits all plans to the builder or construction manager who then builds your dream home.

An architect juggles many factors when solving a design problem. While sharing the contractor's concerns with getting the project built and meeting the budget and schedule, an architect integrates a broad range of additional concerns.

Design Phase

Ideally, an architect designs with all of these things in mind, creating a few alternative schemes for you to consider. This may help you see a different solution you didn’t originally consider. When a favorite scheme is in hand, the architect develops the design into a detailed set of working documents that can be used for estimates, bids, permits and construction. During this process, there is time for feedback to help refine and hone the specifics of the design.

Construction Phase

In the construction phase, the architect observes and reviews the work in progress for conformance with the design intent and the contract documents. During this phase, the architect's role is to protect your interests. An architect's broad range of concerns, knowledge, skills and experience can smooth the way through this exciting and complex process.

Advantages Of Using Architects

Many have been stated, but there are plenty of other advantages to hiring an architect. Unlike a contractor, a large part of an architect's role is to help you visualize potential solutions. This may be achieved through the use of building models, 3D drawings, perspective views and computer-generated images. A clear and vivid representation helps you understand what a design solution will look like and feel like.

Furthermore, a contractor may lean toward construction methods and product suppliers with which he or she has had past success. This may narrow the field of possibilities for your project. Most architects approach a project with an open mind toward a broad range of methods, materials and components. As a result, creative solutions are produced.

Finally, an architect is knowledgeable about tailoring your design to comply with zoning laws, neighborhood covenants and building codes. He or she can help guide your project through the construction permitting process. An architect can also recommend contractors who might be well suited for your project.

What Architects Do

Disadvantages Of Using Architects

Of course, there are a few drawbacks to hiring architects. First and foremost is the price. Many projects do not need an architect. They are purely a “nice to have” addition to the team. Therefore, many homeowners forgo the $4,666 architect cost.

Furthermore, different architects charge different amounts per project. Some only charge by the hour and others only charge as a percentage of the project. As a result, comparing quotes can be difficult.

Nevertheless, just like all home remodeling projects, you should always get at least three quotes before hiring a pro.

Typical Projects Requiring Architects

Unlike a handyman or general contractor, most architects only work on large projects. This may include designing a brand new house or large addition. Often with a draftsman, architects manage all the stages mentioned above and ensure this large home remodeling project goes as smooth as possible.

However, even smaller projects such as a deck installation or bathroom remodel can benefit from an architect’s expertise. There are clear benefits to solving a construction puzzle on paper prior to buying materials, busting out walls, etc. This type of problem solving is an architect's specialty.

Typical Projects Requiring Architects

Legal Ramifications

Just like any remodeling contract, the devil is in the details. While architect contracts may seem boring, there are a few details you must review.

Ownership

If you get multiple quotes and interview all potential architects, chances are, your entire project will go off without a hit. However, issues can arise and sadly, not all projects are completed. As such, what happens to your blueprints and plans?

Well, most American Institute of Architects (AIA) contracts grant ownership to the architect. Therefore, even if your architect completes your project, nearby homeowners could hire the same architect and use the same plans.

In the unlikely event that you have to end the relationship mid-project, you may have to forfeit the plans. While it’s highly unlikely, you must discuss this scenario with all potential architects. If they would refuse to give up the plans mid-project, you may want to consider another architect.

Design & Construction Errors

No one is perfect and errors come up in almost all building projects. As such, you must be legally prepared to deal with the circumstances.

Of course, design errors usually fall on the architect. If one area of the home was designed with the wrong dimensions, and the builder did not catch it, than the fault must fall on the architect. Design errors must be addressed in the architect contract.

Likewise, construction errors happen as well. An architect does not know everything about construction. If they don’t work together, building errors will occur. If they do, then the fault must fall on the contractor.

How To Find The Right Architect

How To Find The Right Architect

You can now start looking for a reliable architect near you. There are four primary methods to find the right architect. The first is word of mouth. Before you start your search, reach out to friends and family. Maybe they worked with a terrific architect on a similar project to yours. If so, you have your winner.

Next, try to find an architect who has completed a project you've seen in person or online that you like. If online or in a newspaper, the name of the architect or their firm should be attached. Third, try asking for referrals from a professional organization such as the AIA, which offers listings of architects near you.

Finally, ImproveNet offers a free screening service that can help you find a local architect.

Architect FAQs

Using all info above, you have what it takes to find the right architect for your project. Nonetheless, to give you as much material as possible, please review our architect FAQs below:

Can you get a permit for construction on your home without an architect? 

In many jurisdictions, a single-family homeowner may obtain his or her own building permit. However, many homeowners find that between drafting the required documents and providing all technical information, the task is quite daunting, and they seek professional assistance. The permit process varies considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Overall, it’s best to contact your local building department.

What if you don't like the designs your architect comes up with?

Upon occasion, a homeowner may be dissatisfied with the architect's work or approach. Keep in mind that the creation of a design is a complex process; an architect may not "hit the nail on the head" immediately. However, if you feel you’re not being served appropriately, it’s best to discuss your concerns directly. Most contracts have a provision for termination of services. Generally, either party may terminate the relationship at any time with a week's notice. Of course, the client is required to pay for services rendered up to the notice of termination.

What does "licensed architect" mean? 

It means the practitioner has earned a state-issued license to practice by obtaining a professional degree, completing an internship in the office of a licensed architect, and passing a rigorous examination. By having earned this license, the architect is expected to uphold the prevailing professional standard of practice. He or she is expected to support the public health, safety and welfare, and to practice the profession ethically. It’s illegal for anyone without a valid license to represent himself or herself as an architect.

Find An Architect

What is meant by the letters "AIA" after an architect's name? 

The letters refer to membership in the American Institute of Architects, which is a professional organization. Membership is optional; it’s not required for the ractice of architecture. The AIA is open to interns (unlicensed) as well as licensed firms and individual practitioners. 

The AIA serves its membership by providing a forum for education, information, recognition, advocacy, and advice. Many local chapters serve the public with educational programs and information about the qualifications of their members.

The standard contracts developed by the AIA are widely used and generally accepted by architects and contractors. They are available for the use of members and nonmembers alike. 

Does it make a difference whether or not an architect uses computer-aided drafting? 

The computer and the pencil are simply different means toward the same end: a design and/or a set of construction documents. The computer is particularly useful for large and complex projects. For home remodels, which are usually full of unique, non-repeated conditions, hand drafting is less cumbersome than computer drafting. The quality of the final product, that is, the built object, depends on the architect's talent, experience and care; not on the tools used to produce drawings. 

Find An Architect

Put simply, architects help you visualize your dream home or addition. They may be expensive, but more often than not, their expertise greatly benefits the final product.

If you’re ready to start your dream remodel, let us help you find a dependable architect in your town!

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Last updated on Mar 31, 2017

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