What Architects Charge

There is no set fee arrangement for a particular type of project. Fees are established in a number of ways, depending on the type of project plus the extent and nature of services required from an architect.

Common methods of compensation include: hourly rates, a stipulated sum based on the architect’s compensation proposal, a stipulated sum per unit of what’s to be built (i.e., the number of square feet or rooms), a percentage of construction costs, or a combination of these methods. Your architect will explain how a fee is to be established. Then, the basis for the fee, the amount and the payment schedule are issues for you and your architect to work out together.

The 1998 Means Square Footage Cost Data survey indicates that fees for architectural services on a custom house can range from 5 to 15 percent of the total cost of construction. Factors that affect the fees include the scope of the project, the level of quality and detail, and economic conditions.

The architect’s fee is usually a relatively small part of the cost of the entire building project, including the estimated construction cost (on which the fee is computed), the furnishings and equipment, and the interest paid on the mortgage. If you consider the cost of a house over a 25-year period, your actual expenditure is probably two and a half times the initial price tag.