You might be considering remodeling your home or designing an entirely new one.

Whether you have only a vague idea of what you want or a fully formed vision of your dream home, understanding the role and cost of a residential architect is crucial.

We’ll first look at the most common architectural pricing models, then the average cost of Austin architects.

After that, we’ll examine which situations require architectural services and what those services entail.

An architect acts as the bridge between your creative vision and material reality. They’re big picture-thinkers, knowledgeable in building materials, zoning laws, codes, subcontractors, structures, and space, and can outline what is possible and how it might be accomplished.

Perhaps most importantly, a talented architect can help you see all the possibilities of your next project. More often than not, they end up exceeding your expectations. Projects that otherwise seem impossible find new life in the mind of a creative architect.

While architects aren’t necessary for every project, there are many situations where they provide an invaluable service for future and current homeowners.

Factors affecting cost

1. Project Size and Complexity

The size and complexity of your project remain primary determinants of architectural fees. Larger, more complex projects typically require more time and resources, leading to higher costs. In 2024, we see an increased emphasis on sustainability and smart technology integration, which can add to the overall complexity and cost.

2. Scope of Services

Architects can offer a range of services from initial design concepts to full project management. The more comprehensive the services, the higher the cost. With the rise of remote collaboration tools, some architects may offer virtual consultations, potentially reducing costs for clients in different regions.

3. Location

Geographic location plays a crucial role in determining costs. Urban areas with high living costs tend to have higher architectural fees. In 2024, the trend towards remote working and decentralized offices might affect pricing, with some firms offering competitive rates in lower-cost regions while maintaining high-quality service through digital platforms.

4. Architect’s Experience and Reputation

An architect’s experience and reputation can significantly influence their fees. Highly regarded architects with a proven track record may charge premium rates. However, emerging architects with innovative ideas and lower rates can be a cost-effective choice without compromising on quality.

Additional costs

1. Permits and Approvals

Obtaining the necessary permits and approvals can incur additional costs. The process can be time-consuming and varies significantly by location. In 2024, there is a growing trend towards expedited digital permitting processes, which can affect overall costs and timelines.

2. Engineering and Consultant Fees

Additional specialists, such as structural engineers or sustainability consultants, may be required. These professionals have their own fees, which can add to the overall project cost.

3. Design Changes

Any changes to the design during the project can lead to additional costs. Clear communication and a well-defined project scope can help minimize these expenses.

4. Travel Expenses

If the architect needs to travel frequently to the project site, travel expenses may be added to the overall cost. With advancements in virtual site visits and augmented reality, some of these costs can be mitigated.

So, how much does it cost to hire an architect?

“How much does an architect cost?” is a question without an easy answer.

A myriad of elements determine architectural fees for residential projects, and the best way to get an accurate estimate for your next project is to reach out to a firm for a consultation. Still, it’s worth reviewing what factors can change the bottom line before embarking on new projects. 

The first and most obvious is the size and scope of the project—how big and complex it will be and how much time it will take.

Fees also vary based on the experience and reputation of individual architects or firms and what services they provide (like drafting plans and documents, administrating construction, etc.).

Finally, the pricing structure of the contract will also likely affect the final cost.  

Common pricing structures

Pricing structures vary between firms and projects. Here are the most common fee structures you’ll encounter and some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with them in 2024.

Percentage of construction cost 

The most common contracts among full-service architecture firms charge a fixed percentage of the final project cost. This usually ranges between 5% and 15%. New construction typically falls on the lower end of this scale, while remodels fall on the higher end. High-quality architects working on custom projects tend to charge between 10% and 16% of the final cost.

  • High-quality custom projects: 10% to 16%
  • New construction: 5% to 10%
  • Remodels: 10% to 15%

Per square foot 

“How much do architects charge per square foot?” is another frequently asked question. The cost per square foot for a given project can vary significantly, depending on the services provided, such as concept development, construction, and project management. According to recent data, the national average ranges from $2 to $10 per square foot, but this number can be much higher for custom, high-quality projects.

  • Custom high-quality projects: Higher than $10 per square foot
  • National average: $2 to $10 per square foot

By the hour 

Some architects offer an hourly fee, typically ranging from $100 to $250 per hour, depending on their level of experience. The principal—head of an architectural firm with years of experience—usually costs upwards of $150 per hour. Junior members of the firm or other new architects might charge $100 or less.

  • Junior architects: $100 or less per hour
  • Hourly fee range: $100 to $250 per hour
  • Principal architect: $150+ per hour

Fixed fees and packages

Some individual architects or firms are willing to assign a flat fee to the entire project in the contract. This model has the advantage of preventing unforeseen costs. However, it’s important to review the contract to understand how the architect arrived at that figure.

For certain projects, architectural firms may offer preset package fee arrangements based on square footage. Homeowners with a limited budget might consider this option to cut costs on detailed work.

For certain projects, architectural firms also may offer a set of preset package fee arrangements based on square footage. Homeowners with a limited budget could consider this option to cut costs on detail work.

How much does an architect cost for a remodel?

Austin Architecture - Reese Cove

Reece Cove, Dripping Springs, Texas

It’s worth noting that architectural fees are generally higher for remodels than for new construction. For example, the average cost of minimal architectural services on a new structure is 8% to 10% of construction costs. For remodels, that average jumps to 12% and could rise to 20% or more depending on additional services rendered .

  • New construction: 8% to 10% of construction costs
  • Remodels: 12% to 20% of construction costs

Remodeling an existing structure often proves more complicated than designing a new building. Existing structures come with a set of unknowns, some of which reveal themselves only during the construction phase. These uncertainties often require revisions to architectural plans.

However, remodels and additions cover a more finite scope compared to new construction. Clients may save money in overall construction costs, though this is not always the case.

If you’re unsure whether a remodel, addition, or new construction will be better for your budget, your architect can provide an answer.

Cost-saving tips

1. Clear Scope and Budget

Clearly defining the project scope and budget from the outset can prevent unexpected costs and ensure the project stays on track.

2. Efficient Design Solutions

Opt for efficient design solutions that meet your needs without unnecessary complexity. Sustainable design features may have higher upfront costs but can lead to long-term savings.

3. Open Communication

Maintain open communication with your architect throughout the project. Addressing issues promptly can prevent costly revisions and delays.

By considering these factors and tips, you can better understand the costs associated with hiring an architect in 2024 and make informed decisions for your project.

How much does an architect cost in Austin?

Austin, like most cities, has higher architectural costs than non-metropolitan areas. According to recent data, the average Austin customer pays between 9.5% and 10.5% in construction costs for residential architectural services. For comparison, similar costs in other major Texas cities include Houston (9% to 10%) and San Antonio (9.5% to 10.5%) .

  • Austin: 9.5% to 10.5% of construction costs
  • Houston: 9% to 10%
  • San Antonio: 9.5% to 10.5%

For high-quality custom architectural services, the total cost ends up somewhere around $350 to $450 per square foot. Luxury building projects can cost more—ranging from $600 to $800—while remodels and additions typically cost about half as much as new construction, ranging from $175 to $250 per square foot for remodeled space .

  • Custom projects: $350 to $450 per square foot
  • Luxury projects: $600 to $800 per square foot
  • Remodels: $175 to $250 per square foot

However, due to the above-mentioned factors, bottom lines are highly contingent on the project specifics. You’ll get a far more accurate estimate for your project by consulting with a local architectural firm.

What’s included in architectural fees? 

The purview of an architect or firm varies from project to project, but there is a fixed set of services that architects oversee in the design and construction process.

Some architects limit their contributions to basic design, while others offer a broader set of detail services to better conceptualize the final product.

At Webber + Studio, we tell our clients that if they turned their building upside-down and shook it, our normal services would likely cover everything that didn’t fall out—from fixtures to fittings to paint and color to landscape and site design.

To better illustrate what your architectural fees cover, let’s look at the process of a standard hourly project at our firm. 

The Architectural Process

The architectural process between first consultation and the finished building can be broken into five basic phases: schematic design, design development, construction documentation, bidding and negotiation, and construction administration.

These terms may sound complex, but they’re actually quite straightforward.

  • Construction Administration: Overseeing construction to ensure everything goes smoothly.
  • Schematic Design: Initial designs based on your input.
  • Design Development: Adjustments and 3D virtual model based on your feedback.
  • Construction Documentation: Detailed designs for contractors and permits.
  • Bidding and Negotiation: Analyzing contractor pricing to balance vision and budget.
Mount Bonnell Drive Residence - Webber Studio Architects

Mount Bonnell Drive Residence, Austin, TX / Northwest Hills

What if I don’t like my architect’s design?

You might not like certain aspects of your architect’s preliminary sketches, or you may be unhappy with their design on the whole. In either case, it’s important to reach out to your architect and be as straightforward as possible about the elements that aren’t working for you.

Communication is key throughout the design and building process. Be as specific as you can about what you don’t like, what you don’t like about it, and how it might be improved.

Some changes might not be possible, but a good architect should be open to a dialogue about how your ideal structure might be achieved. You are, after all, the one who will be living inside it for years to come.

As mentioned above, at Webber + Studio we have a Design Development phase for this purpose. Once we submit preliminary schematics to our clients, we meet for a follow-up during which we address any issues the client has with the design.

Some clients elect to make further tweaks throughout the rest of the process, fine-tuning our design into a home that’s perfect for them.

Webber + Studio Pricing and Fee Options 

Webber + Studio is a custom, high-quality architectural firm with a focus on sustainable building practices.

We bill by the hour for most of our new construction design work, which tends to comprise around 10% to 14% of the overall cost.

Smaller, more complicated projects end up on the higher end of that scale, while larger, straightforward options fall on the lower end. Remodels typically cost somewhere between 12% and 18%, due to their aforementioned complexities.

In addition to our custom hourly work, we offer pre-packaged fee arrangements for certain projects. These come in four different levels priced by the square foot.

Packaged arrangements are a good option for clients who want thoughtful design without the price tag of highly detailed bespoke work.

  • Remodels: 12% to 18% of overall cost
  • New construction: 10% to 14% of overall cost

Our Philosophy 

At Webber + Studio, we believe each client contains an architectural vision that’s a unique part of their being. With empathy and enthusiasm, we work to draw out this distinct and beautiful final product that will endure throughout the different stages of your life.