Cost of drafting house plans Australia

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Building costs, Building new, Building tips

Wondering whether you need a draftsman’s services for your new home build? Perhaps you’re not one hundred per cent sure what drafting services entail. Actually, you’re wondering whether you should go in and hire an architect. In today’s article, we’re drawing you a picture of the cost of drafting house plans and what you’ll be getting for your money. We’ll explain how hiring a draftsman instead of an architect could save you a lot of money, and provide tips on how to find your perfect draftsman.

What’s the cost of drafting house plans?

How much does it cost to get house plans drawn up in Australia?

The answer to this will vary depending on your project and who you’re hiring. Some drafting services charge hourly rates, in which case it could be anywhere between $80 to over $200 per hour. Some may charge a flat rate or have another fee system.

What does a draftsman do?

A draftsman, or drafter, is someone who works on construction projects by producing technical drawings required to specify a building design and build infrastructure. They’ll often use a client’s notes, rough sketches and requests to help capture the house design in their drawings and blueprints. They often work on architectural plans, working drawings and detailed plans. Though traditionally this was done by hand, nowadays, draftsmen often use software and other technology to create plans. Draftsmen and their work can play a major role in a development application and should have an understanding of local building codes. They can be self-employed or work for a larger company.

Even if you buy completed plans, it might be worth having a draftsman inspect them and ensure everything is in order and meets local building codes.

Unlike an architect, a draftsman won’t create a design from scratch. Their goal is to produce an accurate representation of the house plans for both the client and builder. Draftsman can work on a variety of projects including:

  • Renovations.
  • New house plans.
  • Granny flats.
  • Look over existing plans to make sure everything is in order.
Cost of drafting house plans

Is a draftsman the same as an architect?

Though it may seem on the surface that these two job titles are interchangeable, a draftsman and an architect are two different things. An accredited architect will have more training and qualifications than a draftsman. An architect will have university qualifications and needs to register and be licensed under the Board of Architects. In terms of what they can do, architects can do all the services of a draftsman plus create completed plans from scratch, alter existing plans and can be involved in a project from start to finish.

So why not just hire an architect for every job? Well, first you can expect to pay a whole lot more for an architect. An architect can charge anywhere between 6-15% of the price of your build (depending on what you’re asking for). Draftsmen charge a much lower fee of around 1-3%. For simpler drawings, the money you’d spend on an architect would be wasted.

So what’s a building designer?

Building designers are kind of the halfway point between architects and draftsmen. Unlike a draftsman, a building designer can design plans from scratch. However, they aren’t as qualified as architects and cannot take on as much responsibility as an architect. If you need to create a design, a building designer may be a viable (and cheaper) option for you.

How much does a drafter cost in Australia per typical building project?

Many drafters charge an hourly rate between $80-200 or may have a fixed price for certain types of projects. The best way to find out a more accurate estimate is to talk to a local drafter or two.

Home Renovation

The term renovation covers such a wide range of projects that it makes cost estimation tricky. Below is a rough guide:

  • $2,800 for the plans of a small to medium single-room extension
  • $3,200 for the plans of a medium to large single-room extension
  • $5,000 -$10,000 plus for a full custom redesign or renovation of a larger house.

The existing house you’re working with can make a difference to costs, along with any approvals or permits you’ll need.

Knockdown rebuild

The extra expenses of a knockdown are more likely to come from other factors such as demolition costs, hiring a structural engineer, and land preparation. The prices for the drafting services will be similar to those for a new home (see below). The big difference is some of the structural complications that can come with a knock-down rebuild may make your design more complicated, and therefore more expensive.

At a rough estimate, drafting services for a knock-down rebuild can cost between $3,000-18,000, but it can vary wildly depending on your house design.

We’ve got a wide range of knockdown rebuild articles for you to check out including:

How much does a knockdown rebuild cost?

Knockdown Rebuild vs Renovation

Knockdown Rebuilds vs Land Packages

New home build

For new house plans, it can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 to create the drawings and then submit the plans to the council. There are a few factors that will influence the cost of drafting services for your new home build:

  • Size: A large house will cost more.
  • Complexity of design
  • The permits and approvals you’ll need for your project

What impacts the cost of a draftsman?

There are many factors that will influence the cost of drafting house plans including:

  • Where is your property located?
  • The size of the project and your house
  • A complex house plan will have higher design costs
  • The experience and skill level of your drafter
  • Whether your plans are preliminary or detailed plans (the latter will cost more).
  • Alterations will add to the price especially when made to final drawings.
  • Do you have a concept design for them to work from?

Potential additional costs to consider

  • Building permits and council approval may incur additional costs.
  • More difficult projects may incur additional costs or if there are unforeseen issues.
  • When hiring a draftsman, check whether their services will mean they submit plans for you. It’s not uncommon for plans to have to go through one or two rounds of submissions and revisions before they get approval. Talk to your drafter about how their fees work in this situation. Is it covered by a fixed price, or will there be extra costs for each submission?

Using a draftsman vs using an architect

While an architect can do everything a draftsman can, hiring one is much more expensive and could be overkill for certain jobs. Knowing who to hire and when will help you save money.

When to hire a draftsman

Drafters are better suited for smaller and simpler jobs and drafting house plans. If you need your design on paper and in plans, a draftsman will be able to do this for you. If your job doesn’t require the expertise of an architect, a draftsman is a far more cost-effective solution. Draftsmen are also great for looking over existing plans to ensure everything is up to code and there aren’t any issues with the design.

When to hire an architect.

Architects are best for more complex designs, custom designs or projects that need a more creative approach. If you need a designer to handle project management or design complicated projects, architects are worth looking into. If you just need drawings for your renovation or build, a draftsman will have you covered so you won’t need to pay the higher fees.

Does a drafter have to be licensed?

This very much depends on which state you live in. In Queensland, yes, drafters are required to have qualifications. Victoria is the only other state where it is a legal requirement for drafters to be licensed

Drafters will usually have completed a tertiary course, for example, a Diploma in Building design.

Even in states where it isn’t a legal requirement for drafters to be licensed, we recommend asking for qualifications and evidence of their past work.

Our tips for hiring a draftsman to draw house plans

  • Ask your draftsman if they’ve worked on similar projects to yours. Ask to see some of their previous work
  • Be sure to check your draftsman meets the legal requirements and has the qualifications to meet your needs.
  • Always check what services will be covered by a quoted price. This is especially true when comparing numerous quotes from different drafters. Someone who is noticeably cheaper than their competition may not offer the same level of services. Ask for total project cost estimates to get a full picture of expenses.
  • Research the internet for review or talk to references about their experience.
  • Talk to Buildi about hiring a contractor.

Get free advice from an experienced building broker

Need help with drafting house plans? Looking for advice on the right contractors to hire for your building project? Buildi is here to guide you through your building journey. We’ve helped clients with a range of building projects and have ended up saving them thousands of dollars and many hours. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you with your home build.

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