Ask an Architect, Custom Residential

How Much Does an Architect Cost to Design a Remodel?

By Jeff Pelletier
February 10, 2015

I take a lot of project inquiry calls and one of the most popular questions is always what our fees are.  To say there is a lot of confusion about this topic would be a wild understatement.  Architects keep this a mystery to the general public and I think it does a lot of harm to the perception of our profession.  While we are certainly a bit of a “luxury” item, our fees tend to be small percentage of overall project costs and help retain the value of what you built as it will actually look good! We hear from lenders all the time how our projects appraise at higher values.

So, what do we cost?

Well, it depends (yeah, yeah, groan…) on a bunch of factors and project types.  Our commercial work is calculated differently than our residential work as is our multi-family work.  Basically, our goal is to cover our costs and make a decent profit. This is typically handled with an hourly rate based on employees or the role of that employee on a project.  Sometimes a staff member acts as a project lead and bills out at a higher rate.  Other times they’re pulling drafting duty and billed out at a lower rate.  This applies to all of us and allows us greater flexibility.

Great, huh?  So what the heck do you pay for a residential remodel or new house?

The typical fee range for a residential project at B&V varies between 8% and 20% of construction costs and are billed hourly.  Our fees are not directly tied to a construction cost (some architects do that for a variety of reasons with the associated pros and cons) but tend to hover around that range.

Why the big spread?  Not only do we tailor our services to each client (some clients want full interior design services and very detailed renderings while other clients are happy to pick all the finishes themselves and go for less custom detailing), but smaller and larger projects require different levels of work as well.  Your project's fee range will trend to be slightly higher on smaller projects as the same complicated calculation on a large project is still required for a small project but eats up a higher percentage of the fee.

Given the range, our goal is to work with you on carefully tailoring our scope of services so you get what you need and go into it with eyes wide open.  Our proposals typically include a fee range based on the initial budget up through the first pricing set - usually produced during the Schematic Design Phase.  After we’ve had the initial round of pricing based on these pricing documents, we adjust the fee range based on the new construction cost and the agreed upon scope of work in our court.  Often times, the scope is adjusted after Schematic pricing based on your budget. Regardless, we walk you through where the initial costs were from the proposal and where they are trending based on current costs.  Every monthly invoice gets a summary like this one, and it helps our clients keep track of where they are at, based on our fee, and estimated hours needed to complete the scope of work.


When you’re taking on a large and complicated project, we have found that having an architect on board really helps you maintain the quality and acts as insurance on your investment.  Many of us have seen the remodels that have seemed lackluster or were missing that wow factor.  That is what we strive to bring to our projects and it helps us design projects that appraise higher, have designs that look timeless and don’t warrant another remodel in ten years, and help your home stand apart from the crowd.  This is your house and we love making it awesome!

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