Learn about the various considerations that go into the cost to hire an architect.
Christi Farrell, RA, Leed GA
November 8, 2022
You've decided you want to build your dream space! Congrats! But now what? One of the first steps in putting your plans into action is hiring an architect. But how much does it cost to hire an architect? Keep reading to find out.
Architects typically charge an hourly rate at a not to exceed amount, or a fixed fee. The hourly rate is usually between $150 and $300 per hour.
A fixed fee is a lump sum payment for the entire project. Some firms might charge differently based on the phase of the project or services provided to better align expectations and to factor in the unknowns of project.
This is why some firms will charge hourly for the earliest phase for a project and the construction phase while charging a flat fee for the phases in between. The size and scope of the project will also determine the final fee.
As a benchmark, architects typically charge between 5% and 20% of the project's total construction costs for their services depending on the total scope of the project, according to Home Advisor.
Smaller projects will typically have higher percentages relative to the total construction costs than larger projects. So, if you're planning to build a 2,000-square-foot home that will cost $200,000 to construct, you can expect to pay your architect $35,000 to $40,000.
It's important to keep in mind that the size and scope of your project will play a big role in how much you end up spending on architectural fees.
While a more complex project will require more time and effort from your architect, and will increase the overall cost, it will likely be a smaller percentage of the total construction cost.
Another factor that will affect the cost is whether you hire an individual architect or a firm. While an individual may be less expensive initially, a firm will likely have more resources available, which could save you money down the road.
Fees typically fall into three categories: basic services, supplemental services, and additional services. Let's take a closer look at each one.
Basic services are what the architect needs to do for every design. These services are considered basic, because an owner should expect each of these to be included in a standard contract.
These are the minimum services required by most building projects and usually include things like developing initial plans, meeting with planning commissions, and applying for building permits.
These go above and beyond the basics and might include things like overseeing construction or providing extra design work as requested by the client or needed due to unforeseen circumstances.
These are services that typically go outside of the bounds of the initial contract. They often include one-off deliverables like additional 3D renderings, or additional rounds of design review that exceeded the amount in the contract. An architect should always request written approval before beginning any work that would be contractually deemed as an additional service. It’s important to share your full needs.
When you hire an architect, you will sign a contract that outlines the scope of work and the compensation agreement. Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it. You should also have a lawyer look over the contract to make sure that it is fair and legal.
Hiring an architect is a big decision. You want to be sure that you are getting the best possible service for your money. Be sure to do your research before hiring an architect. Ask around for recommendations and read reviews online. Once you have found an architect that you think would be a good fit for your project, be sure to have a detailed conversation about your vision for the project and ask about their fee structure and services offered. Be sure to discuss all three categories of fees—basic, supplemental, and additional—with prospective architects so that there are no surprises down the road. With a little bit of planning (and budgeting), you'll be one step closer to making your dream home a reality.
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