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What You Should Know Before Working with an Architect

Updated: May 17, 2022

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. Your best gauge is to speak to several architects in your area about the cost of designing your specific project. As with any professional service, the cheapest quote is not necessarily the best one.

Hourly fees

Some architects charge a fixed rate by the hour. The typical range is $60 to $125. Fees in some parts of the country, particularly urban areas, will certainly be higher. If yours is a small project and you already know what you want design-wise and expect little back-and-forth, this may be the way to go. You may want to put a cap on the number of hours, but once you reach that limit, you’ll have to re-negotiate.

If you’re dealing with a firm (as opposed to an individual architect) the hourly rate may differ based on who handles your project. If it’s the firm’s principal, the rate may be more than twice that of young architect or designer with only a few years’ experience.

Percentage of construction cost

Another method is to charge a percentage of the cost of the project, typically between 5% and 15% for new construction and 15% to 20% for remodels, according to data from Because they involve dealing with existing problems, remodels are often more complicated than new builds. One challenge of charging by construction cost is that those costs may not be fully known at the time you’re shopping for an architect.

Square-foot billing

Some architects charge by the square foot. Again, this rate varies considerably and again, the price will be hard to pin down in the early stages. If your project is small, say, a kitchen reconfiguration, the square-foot cost will need to be high enough to make it worth the architect’s time.

Combination fees and fixed fees

Some architects combine methods, charging hourly until plans are established, and then charging by the square foot. Others calculate a fixed fee for the project as a whole. A fixed fee gives you the advantage of knowing exactly what you’ll be paying, but make sure you know from the outset exactly what that fee covers. That will be spelled out in the contract.

FINANCING TIP: If you want to know the average cost homeowners pay to hire an architect in your part of the country, see the Pro Cost Estimator @

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