How much does an architect cost?

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Advice & inspiration, Building basics & regulations, Building tips

Are you considering your home design and are wondering how much does an architect cost? You’re in luck! We’ve designed this page to lay out the costs of hiring an architect, including what fee structure you should expect, the types of services offered by an architect, and ways you can possibly save some money on your home design.

What role does an architect have in your new home build?

An architect can play a small or large role in the design and construction process and offers a range of professional services. Some of the tasks an architect can play include:

  • Create a custom design for your home.
  • Draw plans and blueprints for your home
  • Make changes to an existing home
  • Assist with design development applications, planning applications and other permits and construction documents.
  • Supervise the building of a home and work with the project manager

While an architect can perform all of the above jobs, some of these can also be done by a draftsman or building designer. Why is this worth noting? Both of the latter are much cheaper than an architect.

Is an architect the right choice for you? Find out by reading our handy guide!

How much does an architect cost in Australia?

Prices for an architect will vary depending on what exactly you’re asking them to do and how involved they are in the overall project. By far the most common structural fee for architects is a percentage of the entire build, so this means the dollar amount can fluctuate quite a bit from project to project.

What does an architect cost for initial consultation and planning?

Early consultation and initial planning

Some architects will offer an initial consultation for free as an incentive for prospective clients. Others usually charge either an hourly rate or a fixed fee in the early stages.

Breakdown of an architect’s fees

Based on the 8-15% you can expect an architect to charge for their services, here is a rough breakdown of what you’re paying for.

  • Construction Certificate: 0.5%
  • Contract Administration: 3.5%
  • Construction document and detailed tender: 4.5%
  • Design Development: 1.0%
  • Development Application: 2.5%
  • Concept Design: 1.5%

What impacts the cost of hiring an architect?

Complexity of the project

The more complicated a project is, the more work, time, skill and resources your architect will need to put into it and therefore, the more it will end up costing you. If you’re being charged a percentage fee, the overall construction costs of your home will be higher for a more complex project, and therefore, your architect costs will also be higher.

If your house design isn’t especially complicated, it may be worth asking if you need the services of an architect. More affordable options like a draftsman or a building designer will be able to achieve the exact same job at a fraction of the price. We’d only recommend hiring an architect if you get your money’s worth.

Size of the project

The bigger house plans the more work that tends to go into them. There may be some scenarios where a smaller but more complex floor plan will cost more than a larger, but overall, more simple design. In most cases, however, a larger design will cost more than a smaller counterpart.

Your location

Where you’re located can have an influence on your architect’s fees. This could be because your architect needs to travel, but it can be simply down to prices varying from area to area. For example, house plans in the inner city of Sydney and Melbourne are much higher than in other capital cities. If your architect is charging a percentage fee, your overall cost automatically goes up.

How involved the architect is?

The extent to which you involve an architect in your project will play a big role in how much the final cost will be. If you only need them for a small part of the build, it won’t cost nearly as much as if they’re involved throughout the process.

What are the different architect fee structures?

Percentage fee structure

Often architects charge a percentage of the overall project cost or total building costs as their final fee. For example, if they charged 6% and your project costs $500,000, your architect will cost you $30,000. This is usually negotiated at the start of the process and allows for the price to adapt to construction costs.

Most architects using this method will charge between 5-10%. It should be made clear at the start exactly how much your architect is planning to charge, certainly before you sign anything.

Hourly rate fee structure

An hourly fee is most commonly used when an architect is doing partial work or smaller projects. For example, if you just need your architect to draw the application drawings or to make changes to an existing plan, this will likely be charged by the hour. If your architect uses this fee structure, ask them for an estimate of how long they think it may take.

This hourly fee can range between $50 per hour to upwards of $250 an hour for more experienced architects.

Fixed fee structure

A fixed fee structure is the overall price agreed upon for the entirety of the work. Your architect and you discuss and agree to this fixed price before any work commences. This fixed fee is applicable so long as the project doesn’t change.

Square metre fee structure

Occasionally, an architect will charge by the square metre of the project. Be wary of this sort of fee structure, because it may not be as great of a deal as it first sounds. Your architect will want their time and labour costs covered and therefore the per square metre fee will be higher. This isn’t a very common fee structure, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find an architect who offers it. If they do, it’ll be usually for only part of the project rather than the entirety.

Based on our research, these are the expected hourly fees of architects:

  • $1,200 to $1,600 per square metre for brick veneer
  • $1,300 to $1,680 per square metre for full brick
  • $1,480 per square metre for a timber frame house

Combination fee structure

This is any fee structure that combines any of the above fee structures. For example, your architect may charge by the hour for the initial consultation but then switch to percentage fees once the project begins. They may also charge by the hour for the drawings and switch to per square metre once the plans have been finalised. If you go down this road, be sure you have a clear understanding of how the entire fee structure will work, such as when the fee structure will change. It may be wise to run this potential agreement by a financial advisor or building consultant to ensure it actually is a fair deal for you.

Our tips for hiring an architect and minimising costs

  • Have a thorough understanding of your budget before you meet up with architects. This will help your potential architect way up whether they can complete your project with your finances. It helps sort things out early.
  • Consider whether you need an architect or whether a building designer or draftsman would do.
  • Get multiple quotes and compare. Think about when you’re looking to buy a new television or appliance. Do you buy the first one you see or do you compare brands, stores and prices? When hiring an architect, you should follow a similar principle to not only get the best deal for you but to find the best match for your dream home.
  • Discuss fee structures with your architect. Understand how they charge as this be a huge help with budgeting. Also, be clear whether a consistent fee structure will be used throughout the building project or whether it will change.
  • Once you hire an architect, be sure to take their advice on board. Some design choices are more practical than others, and

Need help choosing an architect? Get free advice from an experienced builder broker


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