top of page

So…what does an architect really cost and what does an architect really do?

Updated: Sep 9, 2018

Ok, so you bought that block of land of your dreams or the great development site that you have been hunting for, you paid the fees to the real estate agent, paid the stamp duties and other costs and most likely you have asked around and have got some idea of the construction cost. Now, you need someone to design the house for you and you start looking around for an architect.

Daily phone calls from new clients give us an indication that many people do not know what to ask us when making the first phone call. A lot of first time home builders have a vague idea of the tasks of an architect and know that they need plans but what for and what else does the architect provide seems to be a bit unclear to most.

In a great article on , according to a survey undertaken by, people don’t know what architects do. Below are some shocking figures from the survey:

  • 72% are unaware that architects apply for planning permission

  • 79% don’t know architects ensure buildings comply with health and safety legislation

  • 86% have no idea architects select, negotiate with, and manage contractors

  • 20% are unaware architects prepare construction drawings

  • 9% DO understand architects control site budgets

  • 15% don’t know that architects design buildings

  • 33.3% of over 55s were aware that architects prepare planning permissions, whereas: 14% of 18-24s were aware that architects prepare planning permissions

  • 20% of young adults were aware that architects handle building control certificates and guarantees

Once explained what we actually do and what services we can provide, the next question we usually get is “how much does an architect cost?”

On the contrary to the common misperception that architects charge arm and a leg, architectural fees actually make up a very small part of the overall cost of a project.

The architectural fees were once calculated as a certain percentage of the construction cost and the unwritten rule seemed to be around the 10 per cent of the building cost for the full services. It is reasonable to expect the cost for architectural services to be somewhere between 3-7% of the value of the building works for design and building permits and between 5-15% for design and full documentation services and the higher the cost, the lower the percentage.

Since an architect can manage either the entire design and construction process or parts of it, it can get confusing for the Client when comparing quotes and fees. Some quotes will include the full services where as some will include just parts of services. Some projects would require planning and building permits where as some only require building permit drawings. Some architects will include 3D images and coordinate the consultants; some will not and so forth.

Most of the time the job is priced based on not only the level of services required but also on the difficulty of the job. The best way is always to compare apples for apples and to get a clear understanding of what services you will need.

According to The Royal Institute of Australian Architects,” A minimum of five years’ university training, mandatory practical experience and a registration exam separates architects from other less-qualified building designers. On the website of The Royal Institute of Australian Architects, they state that “an architect will help you set a viable and realistic budget, guide you through the town planning process, obtain competitive quotes for the work, manage consultants like surveyors and engineers, monitor the budget and administer the construction contract. Critically, your architect will inspect the work right through the construction period to assist you to get the quality and level of finishes you expect.”

The advice your architect can provide you with can prove to be invaluable, cost saving and ensure a smooth process during both planning and construction stages and an architecturally designed home is valuable on the market.

We are generally paying the fees of a doctor or lawyer without questioning the hourly rates but somehow more reluctant to see the value in the fees of an architect. The hours that an architect works are long and each line that is drawn requires thought and care. A home is an investment in more ways than one and a well thought of design is more than just function. Aesthetics, performance and cost are factors not to be forgotten.

To enquire about your project, please contact Architeria Architects on 03 9894 5805

72 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page