All You Need to Know About Hiring an Architect in the US
Do you want to appoint an architect in the US, but unaware of the right cost of hiring? How much does an architect cost? In this article, you will get everything starting from the cost of architectural drawing plans, design fee schedules and their charges, hourly rate per square foot, percentage of construction cost, charges of architectural design for residential projects and commercial fees. You can also get information regarding the reasons for which you need an architect, the phases of work they undertake and their legal considerations.
Average Cost of Appointing an Architect
Now, what’s the average cost of an architect? According to the data of actual projects costs, reported by 1104 members of HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of appointing an architect is approximately $5,296. The normal range is between the range of $2016 and $8576. Nevertheless, most of the architectural firms charge about 5% to 20% of the total project cost, which is more than the normal range. If you have a 2,700 sq. ft. home with an average building cost of around $300,000, your cost of hiring an architect will be within the range of $15,000 to $60,000. Some of the architects charge around $125 to $250 per hour and few others charge around $2 to $10 per square foot approximately.
Reasons of Varying Architectural Fees
- Fees structure used by an architect based on hourly rate, square-foot & percentage
- Services offered such as draft & full plans, construction documents & project administration
- Complexity and volume of projects
- Place & cost of living including building costs and final fees
- Choice of the professional – whether a veteran or an aspiring architect
Cost of Architectural Drawing Plans
If you want an architect for architectural drawing plans, expect to pay within the range of $2,500 to $8,000 approximately for the plans. Usually, this doesn’t contain additional services like extra revisions, project management or any sort of assistance for construction. The price provides a set of plans to begin with which you’ll take to a builder. However, you may need revisions with architectural design fees at various levels of your project lifecycle.
Architectural Design Fees at Various Project Levels
- Basic Level cost includes 8% to 10 % for New Construction & 10% to 12% approximately for Remodeling
- Basic + Cabinetry fees include up to 12% for New Construction & up to 14% approximately for Remodeling
- Basic + Cabinetry + Electrical charges include up to 13% for New Construction & up to 15% for Remodeling approximately
- Basic + Cabinetry + Electrical +Bidding costs include up to 14% for New Construction & up to 16% for Remodeling approximately
- Basic + Cabinetry + Electrical +Bidding + Construction Administration fees encompass up to 17% for New Construction up to 19% for Remodeling approximately
- Basic + Cabinetry + Electrical + Bidding + Construction Administration + Project Management charges include 19% for New Construction & up to 20% for Remodeling approximately
Charge of Architects
- Usually, an architect charges a percentage of total project cost within the range of $10,000 to $60,000 approximately.
- Occasionally, an architect works hourly, while drawing up initial plans or undertaking a limited service.
- Few professionals charge on the basis of per square foot.
Hourly Rate of an Architect
Usually, an architect charges $125 to $250 per hour approximately. It’s likely that you may get an intern at $70 to $90 per hour. However, you can’t appoint an intern independently of the firm. Hourly rates are usually apt for smaller projects, where you know the specific time of finishing the project. On the other hand, if you want services, like a simple drawing plan, you may get lower rates using an intern or draftsperson in an architectural firm.
Four Main Levels of Architects
- Principal – Supervisor of an architectural firm charges within $150-$250 approximately.
- Project Manager – Manager with 10 years of expertise charges about $125 approximately.
- Intern Architect II – Architect with 6 to 8 years of expertise charges around $90 approximately.
- Intern Architect I – Architects with 3 to 5 years of experience charges about $70 approximately.
Architectural Cost per Square Foot
You can pay an architect within the range of $2 to $15 per square foot approximately, based on the following aspects such as:
- Concept Development & Drafting:
- $2-$5 per square foot comprising of consultation, site visit & initial drafting
- Construction Documentation:
- $2-$5 per square foot including comprehensive layered drawings for construction elements of framing, electrical & plumbing
- Project Management & Administration:
- $2-$5 per square foot
Nevertheless, most professionals don’t charge this way as the volume of work and time required vary from one project to another. Some architects often combine both hourly and per square foot rates. Although this provides the flexibility of using architects, it leads to messy work from their sides.
Percentage of Construction Cost of Architects
An architect usually charges around 8% to 15% for projects. For a typical home build project, where price ranges from $160,000 to $475,000 approximately, you can calculate the fees of architects by multiplying the percentage fee with the total build price.
- 8% x $160,000 = $12,800
- 15% x $475,000 = $71,250
Hence, the common range is within $12,800 to $71,250 with an average price of $34,500 approximately.
Architectural Charges for Residential Projects
Now, what about the architect fees for residential projects? Homeowners spend within the range of $2,000 and $8,500 approximately while hiring an architect, reflecting the initial plans, small projects and partial services. Most architects charge 8% to 15% for residential architecture service, depending on budget and project type.
An architect, who is an asset to the construction project, performs a wide array of functions, including:
- Producing plans, blueprints & construction documentation
- Working as an agent supporting planning, management & construction administration activities, facilitating bid evaluation and selecting a contractor
- Comprehending engineering, structural & spatial relationships, applicable building codes, and zoning guidelines
Architect Charges for a Remodeling & Home Addition
The costs of home remodeling and additions include 12% to 20% of the total project. Sometimes additional building costs range from $20,000 to $70,000, where you’ll need to pay approximately $2,400 to $14,000.
Architects may charge more for various reasons including:
- Dealing with the unknown in current building structure, creating prospects of multiple revisions.
- Making changes as the project progresses
- Updating home for bringing an exposed construction area up to current code
Commercial Architectural Fees
Let’s delve into the details of commercial architect cost. Normally, an architect charges within 2.5% to 12% or $8,000 to $3,000,000 approximately based on the project costs for commercial construction. If a construction involves greater complexity, the greater will be the percentage of the total cost you have to pay. Commercial architectural fees also depend on the project cost. If the total budget ascends, the fee structure usually descends. Hence, on a $100,000 project, you may have to pay around 8% to 12%. However, on a $50M project, you may have to pay merely 2.5% to 6.5%.
Why Need an Architect?
If your answer is yes to any one of the following questions, you may need to hire an architect:
- Are you seeking blueprints for a commercial project or plans as a financing requirement?
- Need a permit for your building project and need a plan required by issuing authority?
- Need help in designing your room/house?
- Do you want an architect’s seal on specific project areas?
- Do you want a simple remodeling or home addition plan?
- Want to combine form with functions for special structural considerations, like balconies, roof-decks or multiple fireplaces?
- Do you think your remodeling is complex enough for an engineer or draftsperson?
- Are you planning to “raise the roof” and add a second story, wing to an existing home, or build a completely new house?
How to Hire the Right Architect?
You should spend adequate time before hiring an architect as you are going to work with the professional throughout the course of the project. A right architect will help you to transform your desires into reality, matching your budget.
- Capability to collaborate
- Capacity to manage the size & scope of your project
- Strong work experience portfolio
Questions you should ask an Architect
Be careful while making the decisions for hiring an architect. Remember that no two architecture firms are alike. Every firm will bring about its own expertise, values, and interests to a specific project. Find out the architectural company which is compatible with your project requirement.
Interview your architects in accordance to the standards set by the American Institute of Architects (AIA):
- Ask about the approach to design philosophy like organic, modern, functional or industrial.
- Check out project experience to ensure that the architect can manage the project you want
- Find out challenges areas where the architect is expecting difficulties & require design changes
- Request the estimated time of construction for managing project with a clear architectural plan
- Know whether charges are on hourly, percentage or square foot basis for managing the budget
- Inclusions in basic services & additional fees & how the package matches with project needs
Phases of Work
Comprehensive services of an architect include five to six phases of work:
- Schematic Design: It’s a stage of preliminary design including site visit & analysis, client consultation and making of the primary draft.
- Design Development: Once the client has accepted a plan and delineated in the first phase, the architect converts it into a comprehensive technical plan.
- Construction Documentation: It’s the hard copy blueprint that you have to take to the contractors for bidding.
- Bidding & Negotiation: The architect can help to get bids through working relationships with several contractors.
- Construction Administration: Architects can also supervise the project through:
- Creating additional drawings
- Approving requests for progress payments
- Managing changes to architectural plans
- Negotiating disagreements
- Solving conflicts or lack in design detail
Notes: The rate is subject to change as per market requirement.
Legal Things to Consider
Once the architect has drafted the plan and handed it over, you need to consider whether the architect will bear the accountability of the following things such as:
- Ownership of Plans: As recommended by AIA, entitling the patent to plans as belonging to an architect, the client is granted one-time use of copyright plans.
- Design Inaccuracies: Provided that a contractor is expected to check and approve all dimensions before commencing the work, errors can still be present, which you can work out in consultation with the architect and contractors.