Updated: Jul 3
What are Realistic Expectations on architecture fees for Residential Remodel & Addition Projects?
**See our post on why getting a permit is more than just a plan**
On small projects (especially additions because they are essentially just little houses) the architecture fees don't always feel proportional in value compared to the value of construction. While the design fees may be eye-opening to many people, the more important thing to note is whether or not the proposed addition or remodel will add the property value you anticipate, or perhaps resolves functional/space planning issues that may prevent you from selling the home at an ideal value.
To better understand why architecture fees tend to look so high on these types of projects, we've listed out all the tasks, at a minimum, we need to complete in order to submit for a building permit, even if the project is only a couple hundred square feet:
Survey of As-Built home (unless existing drawings are available)
Meeting(s) to discuss project ideas, goals, and design revisions
Drawing or 3D Model of the home as it was built
Design Floor Plan (where we work with you to make sure the new layout works for you)
Design Renderings or Elevations (where we work with you to ensure the exterior looks how you want it to look)
Final Floor Plan (dimensions, doors and windows called out, wall types called out, etc.)
Roof Plan (for additions, with required ventilation calculated, etc.)
Ceiling Plan (may be combined with a lighting plan)
Building Sections (to show how the new construction ties into the existing)
Foundation Plan (Structural Engineer)
Roof Framing Plan (Structural Engineer)
Truss Calculations & Layouts (Where applicable, coordinated by Structural Engineer)
Electrical Layout (Light switches, outlets, etc.)
Plumbing Layout (types and locations of fixtures, along with applicable code requirements for those fixtures)
Architects charge $150-$250/hour in our market, and you may have consultant fees (structural and energy) on top of architectural fees - plus permitting fees, printing expenses, and perhaps special inspections as well. So, if you assume that it will take several hours to complete each of the items above, plus a couple of additional hours to coordinate the consultants, prepare the drawing package for submittal, and respond to any questions and concerns from the city or county, you will see that fees on these types of projects tend to range well over the $10,000 mark. This is why architecture fees for residential remodel and addition projects can be a bit of an eye-opener for many people, causing them to rethink the project all together.
When we put together our fees, it comes down to the minimum time it takes to meet the jurisdiction's drawing requirements for a permit. Whether or not the fee is intuitively proportional to the scale or scope of the work is, unfortunately, not particularly relevant. The minimum permit package required by the building code and the reviewing agency is the minimum permit package, regardless of how big or small your project is. And it is never 'Just a Plan' as our phone calls tend to start. If adding on to your home and/or remodeling the existing spaces will increase the property value more than the cost of construction + the design cost, then the project is worth pursuing. If you just want to add a bathroom for convenience and the value added to your property does not outweigh the construction and design fee cost, then perhaps a harder look needs to be taken before getting in too deep.