How much does an architect cost?

Architect or Draftsman or Building Designer?

An architect is the first profession we think of when we start thinking about hiring someone to design a house. As you get further into research you will realise there are draftsman and building designers, too. But most people get stuck asking: do I choose an architect or draftsman or building designer, and what’s the difference between them?

The one thing they all have in common is that they can design and draw house plans that can be submitted to council for approval. A drafter can draw up plans based on the hundreds of plans they’ve drawn before. Drafters, who take a more creative approach, often advertise their services as those of building designers. Builders Designers have completed a TAFE or Open University course that takes 2 years fulltime to complete, and they usually have a Diploma in Architectural Design.

The main difference between drafters, building designers and architects is that architects have a higher level of training and are usually 30-50% more expensive than a builder designer.

How Much Do Building Plans Cost?

The three main ways architects charge for their services are fixed fees, hourly rate and percentage of build cost, with percentage charges being the most common. For house plans and council approval services, a drafter or building designer might charge around 5% of total building costs. Architects fees will be higher, ranging from 12% up to 22%, with 15% being about average for residential properties; that includes project management. If you want house plans only, an architect might charge around 8-10% of total building costs.

If you don’t know your construction costs, an architect or building designer might charge a flat rate based on the size of your house. In many cases, they will start by showing you examples of their previous work to get a better understanding of what you want and work out fees after your initial consultation and site visit.

Get Quotes

We suggest you get three estimates from builders to get an accurate estimate of your building costs.

When getting quotes for house plans or drafting services, give the architects, building designers or drafters you contact as much information as you can, including photographs and/or floor plans of similar homes, if possible. When comparing quotes, make sure every service includes all the details about their services and payments. Ensure you ask if they:

  • Include council submission (Development Application) in their quote?
  • Offer a fixed fee?
  • Have they allowed for a surveyor, if needed?
  • Have they allowed for shadow diagrams (needed for most DAs)?
  • What is their design process?

Finally, check their track record before you make your decision. How long have they been in business? Do they have a list of previous clients you can contact directly? Your house plans are a significant investment and lay the foundation for your ideal home, so you want to be sure your dream of a new home doesn’t turn into a nightmare before building even begins.

You can get fairly accurate quotes for house plans based on a service’s previous work. If you want a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom brick veneer house, for example, they probably will have drawn plenty of plans for similar homes in the past and will be able to confidently give a quote for yours. If you are unsure of the specifications, though, they may not be able to give you a fixed fee and will add a clause to their contract that stipulates further fees for extra work.

Average Costs

For new house plans, costs usually range between $5,000 to $10,000 or more. Plans for average sized renovations usually cost between $3,000 – $5,000 and small jobs (like rebuilding an external wall) are around $1,800 – $2,500. With that in mind, you want to be sure your design service provides you with drawings that can turn your dream house into a reality. Ideally, the process should be a collaborative one.

Look for an architect or draftsman or building designer who is willing to listen to your ideas and work with you on creating a building design that is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.

Why Choose a Draftsman or Building Designer

At Design Plus Drafting, we understand that it can be stressful and intimidating beginning any building adventure. We are a Sydney based building design company that understands the rules and regulations surrounding council Development Applications and Complying Development Certificates. We understand that engaging the right people to partner with you is vital in obtaining approval and the key to the success of your project.

Here are a few reasons why you would choose to engage us:

  • We listen – we take into consideration what YOU want and design accordingly
  • We are easy to work with – we come at the process from a different angle than architects
  • We do not design one size fits all home – each clients needs are different and we create spaces that reflect this
  • We have a good balance of experience
  • We provide fixed prices for all projects

Trouble deciding if you need an architect or draftsman or building design? Call us at Design Plus Drafting on (02) 9565 or email

*Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide for drafting services. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces. This article was updated 22nd June 2016 to reflect current market pricing.

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