How Much Does An Architect Cost?

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If you’ve begun the journey towards your new home, at some point you’ll ask the question – how much does an Architect cost? The general perception is that Architects are expensive and only for those building homes with large budgets. Read on to gain a deeper understanding. 

How Architects Calculate Their Fees 

In the main it is based on a percentage value of the entire project value. However, it does vary firm to firm, depending on project type and size. The New Zealand Institute of Architects NZIA publishes guides to inform Architects as to what fees they should charge for what type of projects. Generally speaking, these may be between 6-13% depending on the project size and complexity. 

This percentage based approach is a good guide as long as you know how much your project is going to approximately cost, excluding land value. However, many firms still leave it as a percentage basis as the project progresses, which can cause confusion around the exact final fee. We prefer to set the fees in concrete as early as possible so its transparent with our clients.

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So How Much Does An Architect Cost?

It depends on the firm. Some charge 3% of project value, others 8%, others 12% or more, depending on their involvement in the project. The wisest thing to do is reach out to various firms, both Architects and Architectural Designers. First – tell them about your project. Give them as much information as possible about location, size, style and your overall budget. In turn they should be able to give you some indication of what their fees are to design your project.

Not All Architects Will Want Your Project

Architecture is a specialist industry and there isn’t any bulk, one-size-fits-all practices. Architecture is designed through a relationship, it’s not an off the shelf item. Therefore, don’t find it unusual if an Architect suggests you use someone else. It could be due to workload, your project type or maybe they just didn’t feel that you were a good fit for their practice.  

For example here at Arcline we don’t do any alteration or addition projects. We solely focus on new builds as we enjoy those projects and have more skills in that area. Daily we’re turning away new projects to other designers in Northland which don’t meet our criteria. We refer the renovation projects to the designers who do it daily. However, it’s not that we can’t do it. 

How We Calculate Our Fees 

As an Architectural design firm we use a mix of percentages, size (square metres), how many hours we think we’ll spend and project complexity to determine fixed fees for each of our project stages. No two projects are the same as each requires a different amount of input. 

You can read more on how we calculate our design fees here

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What Are Some Other Options? 
Maybe the above fees have scared you off. Maybe they haven’t! But what other options do you have to design your house?

What you’ll find is that the well known Architecture firms will charge above 10% for their design services. Then you’ve got all the other Architecture firms which can be around 7-10% of the project value. 

Below that, there is Architectural Designers, often charging 3-7% of the project value. These designers can’t call themselves ‘Architects’ as they don’t have the university degree or registration to do so. However, many of these designers have years of experience in the industry, some of them are even past builders. 

Then there is draftsmen who on average charge 1-3% of the project value. With a draftsman they are very practically focused, detailing just how to build the house or building rather than giving design advice. 

Each of these groups have their place. To build a home or a building you must have plans to submit to council. It really depends on the level of design assistance you want with your project as to what path you choose.  


It’s Worth Every Cent 
The number of design decisions and considerations when building a home is enormous, to say the least. Architects and Designers are there to help answer those difficult questions and lead you through each step. 

Would you go to court without a Lawyer? Do your business accounts without an Accountant? 

We’d love to have a chat about your project. Contact our team today to discuss. We look forward to hearing from you. 

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