How Much Does an Architect Cost to Draw Plans?

custom home architect costs

If you are building your own home, you may be thinking about hiring an architect to work with you on your blueprints.

Maybe you already have a pretty good idea what you want, or maybe you don’t. Either way, you want a professional to help you turn your dream into an actionable plan, and eventually, a home.

But is it expensive to hire an architect? And is it worthwhile?

In this guide, we are going to talk about what it costs to hire custom home architects. If you are hesitating to hire an architect, you are not alone. Indeed, chances are good one of the reasons you are unsure of your decision is because nobody you know has worked with one.

Did you know that architects are estimated to have designed only around 2% of homes that were constructed during the pre-2008 building boom? That statistic is stunning.

Architect Anthony Alofsin explains, “Working as an architect and historian, I first became interested in the suburbs when I realized that even my sophisticated friends—let alone the general public—were terrified to hire an architect to design their home. My profession is marginal in society compared to others, like medicine or law. Architects build few of the homes people occupy. Instead, those needs are satisfied by a building industry that my architectural colleagues don’t know anything about.”

In point of fact, a number of different types of individuals and companies can work with you on home design. Design fees vary widely between a good architect and design company that sells online house plans.

These include architects, designers, and building companies with pre-existing customizable plans.

Let’st ake a look at what it would cost you to hire an architect.

Architect Costs 101

Costs to work with an architect can range significantly depending on the architect and the project.

This Old House explains, “Architects’ fees vary widely, depending on the project, the local economy, and the architect’s experience and reputation. Fees typically range from $2,014 to $8,375, with an average of $5,126.

But fees can be much higher than that, depending on the size and complexity of the job.”

Additionally, the site says, “Some architects charge a fixed rate by the hour. The typical range per hour is $60 to $125.

Fees in some parts of the country, particularly urban areas, will certainly be higher.”

The cost of living in this urban areas often directly correlates with the architect fees. Keep that in mind when considering project costs for any new build or other home improvement project.

There are two other methods of fee structure that architects may employ.

They could charge per square foot, or they could charge you a fee based on the construction costs, i.e. 5-15% percentage of construction cost.

There is one more thing that is important to know about the price of working with an architect, and that is that it can be a little unpredictable.

Alofsin explains, “Architects or custom-design builders generally put open-ended “allowances” into budgets instead. The final project cost of those allowances often make budgets soar near the end of the build process, due to unexpected changes. The building industry removes this worry. Not only is the price fixed, but a reliable completion date is provided as well.”

Design build firms are often somewhat higher because the design intent often changes during the planning phase. Keeping clear construction documentation can help eliminate these changes and keep your estimates and building costs per square foot within reason.

Is Hiring an Architect Worth It?

Whether or not the cost of an architect is worthwhile to you really depends on what you need. That is advice directly from the source- The American Institute Of Architects.

Here are some of their key potential benefits of hiring a professional for architectural design:

  • Architects are excellent problem solvers and can be cost-efficient in some situations. Some of them can offset their costs significantly with their solutions, and maybe even save you money.
  • The designs and solutions an architect comes up with on your behalf are highly customized, tailored to your every need.
  • A practicing architect requires more education than a designer, and can be licensed in your state.
  • If you are looking for consistency in terms of architectural style, an architect has the knowledge to make that happen. The homes that builders design are often more cobbled-together in this respect.
  • You might like a particular architect’s aesthetic style, and want to surround yourself in that style.

But not everybody needs or wants the benefits above.

You might be just fine with a production house that offers a few simple customization features for configuration and finishes. Some smaller projects can be fine with a intern architect student.

Keep in mind, that architectural services are highly competitive. Use that to your advantage when you start your search to find an architect. Get estimates from at least three different firms.

Indeed, you may also like the aesthetic of a production house, and the speed with which you can build one as well as the assurance of a concrete, predictable cost.

And don’t forget there are other options too, like working with a builder’s in-house design team on a more custom structures than those available in the builder’s existing catalog.

Is The Cost To Hire Worth It For You?

You came here asking the question, “Should I hire an architect for the blueprints for my home?”

Now we hope you have some guidance of what your should expect to pay.

Architectural fees for residential projects can be tricky but when you need an architect, it helps to make sure you understand what type of fixed fee or hourly rate you are looking it prior to signing any construction documents.

In the end, only you can make that decision.

Evaluate your budget and ask yourself questions about what is important to you.

Do you want to work with someone licensed by your state? What about your specific zip code? Please note that what an architect charges and prices can vary widely in the same state.

Do you need a highly customized home? If so, design projects costs for residential projects can add up quickly for new construction.

What are you feelings about architectural styles? Find the right architect based on their design process and then worry about fee structures and total costs.

The best decision is ultimately the one that will help you achieve your goals within your budget. In some cases, that may mean hiring an architect. In others, it might not be worthwhile to increase your average cost when a standard floor plan already exists.