How much did your architect cost you?

May 2, 2011

Trying to get an idea on how much we should expect to pay for an architect. I have seen prices ranging from $1-$10/sq ft and I have seen some charging by a certain % of the whole construction fee. How much did your architect charge you? Would be helpful if you can provide your sq footage in the case that your architect charges by % of costs and the quality of your architect/however you want to rate them.

Any input is always appreciated!


Comments (183)

  • Shola Akins

    Utterly ridiculous. What's PM?

    5800 sq (AC) , 8000 sq ( total) .
    Architect :$ 35,000 ( not the best Architect at all , but the least price I could find for three stars Architect)
    GC : $221,000
    PM : $60,000
    Welcome to south Florida

  • Holly Stockley

    Actually, the best use of a bar space for non-imbibers is a home soda fountain. I recommend a book with lots of history on the Soda Fountain and recipes:

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  • cpartist

    As my my mother used to say, there's so much money in Toronto. Why couldn't you join the right congregation, find a nice girl from one of those families? Sigh.

    Oy Vey!

  • ulisdone

    Of course what you also get with the architectural fees is a set of Permit Documents! Impossible to proceed without...

  • riverrat1

    I know this is an old thread but it's invaluable to someone just starting out in the process.

    We live in a supposedly low-cost area of Louisiana. Building a raised cottage at 2700 sq ft under roof and 3012 total = $38,000 for architect and $3000 for engineering. We will use the Architect during the build process so there will be more fees. The process has taken almost 3 years. We were in no hurry and wanted to take our time to get this retirement home exactly how we wanted it. Our builder will make $175,000 for a nine-month build. Our real estate attorney to review contracts...we are not sure as we haven't received the bill. Our interior decorator/designer = $23,000 flat fee. I can tell you that each of these people on our team deserves every penny they earned. At the end of this project, we will have exactly what we want. Worth every penny!

    We break ground soon!

  • D E

    this guy saved 180k by not having a gc. on the show Grand designs several self builders have claimed to save over 300k pounds but foregoing a gc.

    what does a gc bring to the table that's worth 220k?

  • chispa

    DE, is that really a question?

    You don't have to use a GC, but most people don't have the time, knowledge, experience or a rolodex full of subcontractors to build their own house.

    Also many banks won't lend you money unless you use a licensed GC for building.

    And that $220k, what percentage of the project is that? You need to put that number in context.

  • worthy

    Our builder will make $175,000 for a nine-month build

    Is that the cost of the build or the builder's fee?

  • chispa

    DE, I just watched the video. The guy is an Architect ... don't you think that gives him a slight advantage to take on this project compared to the average person? He also said it was so much work and so many things he had to learn, that he feels he got another Masters Degree. In his case a great investment in time, because he not only saved money, but learned some great skills and practical knowledge that he can apply to become a successful Architect.

  • riverrat1

    @worthy, that is the builder's fee.

  • worthy

    Too bad I never cottoned to 'gators and skeeters!

  • riverrat1

    @worthy, But the trade off's are great views and air conditioning ;-)

  • D E

    chispa what advantage does being an architect give? does he know any more about plumbing or HVAC or electrical than the average person can learn in their spare time? did it give him any advantage in building his furniture? I think not.

    building a house is the most expensive purchase the average person will ever make yet we are more ignorant in this area than almost any other -it doesn't make sense to me, as the cost of this ignorance is clearly very great.

  • chispa

    Being an Architect gave him a big advantage. Did you see the model he built ... most people can't even assemble a good ginger bread house!

    DE, the beauty of this country is that, for the most part, no one is stopping YOU from building your own house. Most people have no time or desire to learn that particular set of skills.

    My father taught me how to do basic electrical. I can hang a chandelier, wire in a dimmer switch or timer ... but in no way am I qualified to wire a house and have no interest in learning either.

    An acquaintance built his own 2 seat plane in his garage. Not sure I would ever accept a ride in it!

    No one is stopping you from learning all these trades and building your own house ... but the majority of people have no desire to go that route. Most are out earning a living at the things they are good at.

  • D E

    of course. when the bank is loaning you money and giving you 30 years to pay it off,what incentive is there to save 220k? none..

    the bank has an incentive to make you hire a gc. they get a bigger loan outta

  • chispa

    DE, you make it sound like people are squandering $220k or throwing it away? You see no value to hiring someone that has knowledge of building and the city/state codes, has trusted qualified subcontractors and manages the project, for a roughly year long project?

    Couldn't you then say this about pretty much every trade or business out there?

    Kind of like Tesla decided that car dealerships were not worth the premium paid for their service and came out with their direct sale model. The end consumer didn't really benefit, but Tesla removed a middle man (not in every state though). Who knew the car dealership lobby/union was so strong! But that is a whole other interesting discussion.

    You could study and sit for the GC licensing test, no? You said the average person could do this in their spare time, so what are you waiting for? You can probably order the code books on Amazon right now!

    I have no dog in this fight, but trying to understand your perspective. All I get right now is that you don't like Archirtects, GCs, plumbers and electricians and don't think they are worth what they charge ...

  • BT

    > you make it sound like people are squandering $220k or throwing it away?

    No it just did NOT go into the product. It is a massive product overhead.

    > You could study and sit for the GC licensing test, no? You said the average person could do this in their spare time, so what are you waiting for?

    Most places do NOT have a license or test for GC. A Homebuilder is a whole another story.

    > has trusted qualified subcontractors and manages the project, for a roughly year long project?

    If your "GC even manages" a project vs drive by. What respected GC will have only one project.

    Having $221,000 O&P, Project manager for $60k, Architect $35k+ = 330K overhead before a single nail and board has been purchased. Many areas you can build, drywall and trim for that money.

    The dealerships are very wasteful, they come under pressure from both sides: manufactures and consumers. They are forced on both sides thank to proprietary parts and diagnostics and corrupt state legislators.

  • D E

    chispa, there is no test to be a gc. pay the $75 fee and go. the code books are available for free - at least the 2012 irc that my city uses.

    I don't begrudge any one who makes a living providing a service.

    what burns my toast is consumers who would rather use their spare time watching the Kardashians instead of becoming knowledgeable about their most expensive purchase, and what makes it worse is the flip attitude about it because they are getting a mortgage. I don't like people being comfortable in indebtedness

  • riverrat1

    This is such an interesting conversation.

    @DE, Would you feel the same if someone had worked their entire life nearing retirement and are paying cash for their build and team? I, too, don't begrudge anyone who makes a living providing a service. They deserve to be paid accordingly.

    I personally do not want to be in debt and anyone that is in debt cannot be comfortable with it. I can also tell you that I don't watch the Kardashian's and in my spare time would rather spend it with my Grandchildren and family. I have absolutely no desire to learn about how to wire a house. Different priorities for different people. It's what makes the world go around. I'm not being confrontational, I'm just curious as to your response to chispa.

    A consumers priority should be to do due diligence in finding the right team, builder, designer, architect and engineer to build their home if they can afford to do so. If they can't afford a team then I don't begrudge them saving money?! I've GC'ed a home and I don't want to do it again. We've worked hard to get to this time in our lives and deserve to do it how we want to.

    Our builder/GC will probably have 3-4 projects going on at the time of our build. I will not be the only one he is working with during the 9-12-month process. I also would never begrudge him for making a decent living. It's hard work!

    We started working/planning this new house about 3 years ago and we are nearing our starting time to build. Yes, it's expensive and yes we want what we want. So, we have to pay for it!

  • worthy

    Three lots away from a new infill build I was managing 30 years ago, the homeowner, a successful restaurateur, decided he wasn't going to waste money paying other people to build his house. No Siree, Bob!

    He started the excavation with a couple buddies. Rented a bulldozer and dump trucks and away they went. They ran the equipment around like kids at a beach; the excavation, down to an ancient lakeshore, was all sand.

    A week in, they severed the gas line to the neighbouring house, starting a fire. As well, their spirited digging threatened to collapse the foundation.

    The city redflagged the site.

    A professional contractor set to work: First thing, a massive drill rig lumbered in with a ten-foot bit drilling holes for 20-foot steel posts driven into the ground, between which were placed heavy pieces of lumber, eventually cribbing the entire excavation.

    The cribbing remains in place to this day. Nice house too!

    But as Paul Harvey used to say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    I read a book and watched two Utube videos. Plus I spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • D E

    >>@DE, Would you feel the same if someone had worked their entire life nearing retirement and are paying cash for their build and team? I, too, don't begrudge anyone who makes a living providing a service. They deserve to be paid accordingly.

    I would feel sadness. that they have saved up so much and worked so hard only to have to give up so much of it due t o a lack of knowledge.

    I would have many questions- what type of house are you building that costs 38k for architect fees, but building in a low cost neighborhood?

    what is the total budget of this build that the GC is making 179k

    btw, I know MANY who are comfortable in debt. They have a three year old car that they are upside down in but dont like the color/size etc so they want to get a newer vehicle.

    they havent paid off the house but they are going to take a HELOC to "update" the kitchen

    thats being comfortable in debt.

  • D E

    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    >>"I read a book and watched two Utube videos. Plus I spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express.

    What could possibly go wrong?"

    you bought a builder tract house so Im guessing you didnt want to pay a GC either ?

  • chispa

    DE said:

    " I would feel sadness. that they have saved up so much and worked so hard only to have to give up so much of it due t o a lack of knowledge."

    DE, couldn't you pretty much say this about anything that someone else does for you?

    - Why pay for college, you can just get your education from the library or internet?

    - Why pay an accountant or investment advisor?

    - Why pay a Doctor?

    - Why pay a hairdresser, barber, etc?

    - Why pay a lawyer?

    - Why pay a realtor? In a HCOL area they will make more than a builder will, for a lot less work!

    - Why pay a mechanic or any repair person?

    Is your issue only with the construction business or are there other businesses that should also be avoided?

    No one is giving up anything. They are paying for a service and getting a house as the end result.

    I still don't understand the root cause of your "sadness"?

  • D E

    you pay those people if you can't or won't do it yourself.

    do you change your oil? probably not. it only costs $20 more to have it done for you. what if it cost $1000 more? obviously then you would change it. but we don't think twice about paying a gc 220k to coordinate subcontractors on a build for us, or 38k to an architect.

  • riverrat1

    3 years = 36 months = $36.000 to an architect. Our architect made a little over $1,000 a month from working on my project. She has 3 kids to put through school and college. I don't have a problem with it.

    If you are feeling saddened for me/us. Don't. I assure you, if I couldn't afford it I wouldn't do it. We are not spending our entire retirement on this house. It would be irresponsible of me to do that.

    @ DE, You wrote, "I would have many questions- what type of house are you building that costs 38k for architect fees, but building in a low cost neighborhood?"

    I'm thinking this was addressed to me. I'll answer your question. But first I want to address this. We are not building in a low-cost neighborhood. That would not be a smart thing to do. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I'm building in a low-cost neighborhood. I never said that. I did say we are building in a supposedly low-cost area of Louisana. The keyword is supposedly. It's not any longer.

  • chispa

    I used to help my Dad change the oil when I was a kid. Even he stopped doing it when cars got more complicated.

    It costs me a fortune to change my oil! I still take it to the dealership because it just isn't something I want to do. I have a big engine and just trying to dispose of hazardous waste (oil) is worth paying up.

    I had some roof tiles repaired recently and also my paver driveway. Certainly not brain surgery, and most of us could do it, but those guys worked hard outside all day in 95F heat. Worth every penny for "basic" manual labor. 30 years ago my father would have helped me with the pavers, but at that time I couldn't afford a house with pavers!

    You just don't seem to see any value to the building trades, so not much else anyone can say ...

  • jmm1837

    " I would feel sadness. that they have saved up so much and worked so hard only to have to give up so much of it due t o a lack of knowledge. "

    And I would feel happiness that they'd saved so much and worked so hard in order to afford a home designed to meet their needs and wants. They didn't "give up" anything: they bought and paid for something they wanted. This is not lack of knowledge: it's quite the opposite. These people have the self-knowledge to know their limitations, and also to know that their own time has value too, and if they don't want to spend it GCing a build, that can be a perfectly rational decision to make.

    As an example, our previous home took about 8 months to build, with an architect and a GC on hand. I reckon the architect's fee and the GC's profit for that build were together about half what I earned at my job over the same period. It would have made no sense at all financially for me to give up my income to GC my own build. I gave up nothing by hiring a GC. And I would say the same even if were an expert on construction.

    As for debt, again, it is not a given that if you hire a GC you are putting yourself in debt. We didn't. And neither is it a given that a mortgage at today's cheap interest rates is getting yourself mired in a lifetime of debt. If the mortgage rate is 3% and if you can earn 8% by investing capital in the market, rather than the house, the mortgage can in fact make a whole lot of sense.

  • live_wire_oak

    I’m supposing a scenario where a couple of acres of cotton is grown, homespun created, and all sack clothes are designed and sewed. Because Simplicity patterns cost $6, and paying for someone else’s expert ideas is just “sad”. I’m just uncertain of where the polyurethane farm would be going to raise all of the vegan pleather for shoes, etc.

    Specialization of trades has always existed. Even our remote ancestors had hunters, and gatherers. We don’t live in a barter economy. Our monetized specialized work enables the purchase of other specialized work. The “have to DIY or you are a fool” argument falls apart the minute someone doesn’t get their butts to KY via their horse and buggy to mine the coal to make the steel from the iron ore they mined from MN, and all for the bands for the new wagon wheel.

    It’s absurd to espouse that anyone who pays for services or goods is somehow less of a renaissance human, or to imply that they are just less intelligent, as has been the not so subtle flavor of these innumerable threads . Even that paragon of DIY architects, Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves to grow and cook his food and to clean his house. He specialized in being a gentleman planter, legally living off of the efforts of others to support his free time to think and draw. That’s how he could afford to do what he did. He didn’t quarry the block personally and lay it all.

    Grab a shovel and hand dig your own footings. What could be simpler than a shovel and wheelbarrow? You’ll save thousands over calling an excavation contractor. Any fool can dig a hole in the dirt, right! Set up your own on site concrete plant and cast your own block. Pour your own walls. Concrete is absurdly easy to create,and easy to DIY. If you can’t do that, then you’re foolishly throwing away thousands of dollars. Buy you a Norwood and head off into the hills to cut and mill your own lumber. You’d be saving thousands!

    If everything non DIY is reducto ad absurdum, that can get turned around quick. Put up or shut up. Dig your hole, get your blisters, set that wall. Then you’ve got actual field experience to give the reverse snobbery jealousy some basis of semi-valid hand blistering experience. Rather than the tiresome intellectualized overly Internet time wasted boasting non event that has yet to have one shovel of dirt moved. That is what is “sad”.

    Prove everybody wrong that says that it will never get built. Please. Nothing could be better than someone sacrificing their time creating shelter for their family. Mushcreek did it. A 60 year old man. Prove that a much younger female can at least do the same. Do one single concrete thing that moves you forward. Then keep doing it.

    You do you. But not everyone that is not you, is a sad stupid fool wasting hay bales of money because they are too lazy and dim witted to do anything else.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    "Does he [architect] know any more about plumbing or HVAC or electrical than the average person can learn in their spare time?"


    "Did it give him [architect] any advantage in building his furniture?"


  • Denita

    I find it interesting that some people assume that because a given skill looks easy from the outside (GC, electrical, plumbing, architecture etc) that the knowledge is easy to obtain and implement. The more skilled the professional, the easier it looks because the professional knows not only what to implement, but also what won't work so the professional avoids those errors. I'm willing to pay someone for that knowledge just to avoid the inevitable screw ups by those that don't know, including myself. Most of us understand that what we are paying for is the knowledge, experience and skill. It always looks easier from the outside. It's when you are hip deep in crocodiles that you appreciate what the professional brings to the table. JMO.

  • D E

    mark bischak, that was a rhetorical question. obviously architects don't know any more about making furniture or plumbing than the average Joe who has an interest in it. more likely they know less.

    but if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that,

  • D E

    riverrat1, now I want to know - why did it take 3 years for an architect to design a house.

    this grows more interesting by the minute

  • D E

    live wire oak - too many words.

    more power to the person who builds their house from the ground up in their spare time. I have the utmost respect for that person.

    for the person who can't fix a loose door knob because thats not their trade, there is someone who will happily do it for them, for a "small" price

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    When it comes to architectural design and home construction, Debbie has no formal education, no practical experience and no idea of what she is talking about.

    But since she believes she knows everything, she doesn't hesitate to tell everyone what they should be doing.

    Foolish arrogance.

  • D E

    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "When it comes to architectural design and home construction, Debbie has no formal education, no practical experience and no idea of what she is talking about."

    you think you know but you have no idea.

    please advice, what formal education does a GC require?

  • live_wire_oak

    Too many words? Should there be pictures then?

    Do, or do not. There is no try.


    You might want to quit while you are behind.

    —-——Han Solo

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Well...some education in construction methods, materials or management might be helpful....

    Or a certified project manager could be a help...

    There's a lot of studies which could be helpful for a general's a diverse and very challenging endeavor.

    Oh wait...I forgot.

    Since you know everything about everything, you need no knowledge or skill for anything.

    And when are you going to lay the CMUs for your house?

    Be sure and post photos! :-)

  • D E

    so Virgil faia Carter, in other words there is absolutely no formal education required to be a gc.
    that's what I thought.

    move along.

    live wire oak, you forgot the picture of the gc smiling all the way to the bank. and the bankers smiling all the way to the bank

  • worthy

    Damn raccoons scrambling through the attic again this morning! This is Raccoon City, after all. (BTW, Mila Jovovich is really nice and not pretentious at all, says mrs. worthy, who met her off-set when she dropped by The Bay's cosmetic counter.)

    Anyway, I'm getting my ladder and will climb two storeys up with hammer and tin in hand, That's after I custom fabricate a one-way trap door for the varmits. Easy peasey!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Racoons and squirrels...constant attic trouble!

    We just used a free standing, baited trap from the county animal control folks. Once the varmit was trapped and turned over to animal control, the sheet metal did the job on the access hole.

  • ulisdone

    A few decades ago there were States where no architectural degree was needed - you just had to pass the licensure test.

    You just had to pass the test ...good luck.

  • PRO
    BLDG Workshop

    "live wire oak, you forgot the picture of the gc smiling all the way to the bank"

    If I'm not mistaken it seems live wire was posting images of himself. If that were in fact the case I suppose he would be on the DE train, smiling all the way to the bank and gaining 'utmost respect' all in one fell swoop?!

    It's impressive when one can back up their strong opinions with pictures in such a way.

  • chispa

    DE mentioned that there were no requirements to become a GC in her state?

    I guess I have only lived in states that require a person to have some work experience and pass a test to be licensed as a GC. I just double checked and my current, previous and future state all have a test and some past work experience as requirements to get a license.

    What that means DE, is that you have no barriers or excuses not to act as your own GC and build your own house. Lucky you!

  • worthy

    This thread is like a party line...for those old enough to remember what that was!

    Racoons and squirrels

    Having seen my life flash before me last time I fell from a ladder cage in hand, I'm leaving pest removal to those accursed pros. Before they nail in the screening and aluminum, they affix a one-way flap to the attic entry point. So the critters can leave but not come back. Hotel California in reverse, as it were.

  • riverrat1

    @DE wrote, "riverrat1, now I want to know - why did it take 3 years for an architect to design a house.

    this grows more interesting by the minute"

    We used the services of the Architect to walk through the property to evaluate the lot. = 2 meetings to discover it is a buildable lot to build what we wanted in a house..that took an additional 4 weeks. Remember we were in no hurry and took our time. Another 6 months for her to come up with Schematic drawings of 5 different house drawings. We took our time reviewing those schematics of another 6 months to pick and choose parts from those schematics to come up with a plan that worked for us. Another year to tweak plans, engineering, lighting, design, picking finishes ( traveling to find antique cypress doors) and a few changes to the final drawing. At this point we brought on board a designer/ decorator and builder. Bringing on the designer/decorator and builder took another 5-6 months. Found changes, on plans, with the team, and took another 6 months to implement those changes. Attorney = 4-5 weeks. More engineering was involved at this point. Now we are up to about 2 years 8 months. and we will start soon n a few months. I'm so happy we took our time. Time well spent. Altogether about 3 years when we start.

    We have all finishes, windows, doors, countertops, moulding, cabinets, floors, lighting, roofing, appliances and a myriad of other things like house wrapping, insulation, drilled shafts, HVAC, etc. picked out already. It's been a wonderful project. I've had a lot of help and feel good about starting this build.

    When we decided to build I was going to make sure that all of our allowances had already been picked out and knew the cost of each item.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I think my record for length of time working on a single family residence is 12 years and four months. It involved a large home, my client had a few international moves, and a moving sand dune.

  • One Devoted Dame

    It involved a [...] moving sand dune.

    No wonder you always ask about the site, whenever someone posts a plan. ;-)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    It's always important to begin architectural design with a thorough site analysis and an understanding of how the site may influence the architectural design, for better or worse....

  • Architectrunnerguy

    Agree. There's a reason all my houses show the house ON the site. Context is everything.

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