Hiring an Architect: What Does it Cost?

Note: This article, written by Lorianna Kastrop, was originally published on Angie’s List on Sept. 23, 2011.

Homeowners often ask, “What is the ‘going rate’ for an architect?”

The going rate will depend on several factors. Typically, architectural firms will give you an estimate for your remodel based on:

  • Amount of square footage impacted.
  • Complexity of the design.
  • Complexity of the site, especially for additions.
  • Amount of details required for finishes and specifications. This has a lot to do with the level of experience and capabilities of the contractor as well as the quality level you are looking for. High-end materials and finishes will cost more, even in the design stage.
  • Jurisdiction. Some communities are adverse to change, or to expansion of existing buildings. Coastal communities, for example, may have very stringent regulations.

Therefore, you will find a broad range of architectural and construction costs for seemingly similar projects, such as a kitchen remodel or master bedroom and bath addition.

It is very important that the architect sees your home and talks with you about what you want to accomplish before quoting you a price. Otherwise, you would just be getting a ballpark figure that could be way off.

To get the very best deal on your architectural design, you can work with your architect so that the project is not over-drawn. While every single detail can be included in the construction documents right down to what every door handle will look like, that level of detail is not usually necessary.

It may be more cost-effective to work with your contractor or an interior designer to decide on some of your finishes. If much of what you want is standard, then the architect can save you money when drawing the construction documents. If anything is custom, such as a specially-designed home theater room, you will need more details in the drawings.

One cautionary thought to keep in mind about construction documents: It is rare that a set of documents is so complete that there is no room for interpretation. Architects understand that licensed general contractors know how to do standard construction and the drawings will reflect that assumption.

Some contractors will try to get more money out of you by claiming that this, that or the other thing “wasn’t in the drawings” and subjecting you to change-orders. Be sure to go back to your architect to clarify the construction documents. Occasionally, something does need to be added to the drawings, but do not allow finger-pointing. That will cost you money, time and aggravation. Insist that your architect and your contractor respectfully work together with you as a team to get the best outcome on your project.

Lorianna Kastrop

Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc.

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This entry was posted in Budget, Hiring an Architect, Residential and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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