If you’re looking to build a new home or even renovate an old one, your first step should be to find a professional designer. These professionals can help you achieve your desired results rather effortlessly. Without the insight of a designer, it will be hard to maximize the functionality of your dream home.
In most cases, the cost of a drafted house plan varies depending on the designer you chose to hire, the type of drawings you require, and the scope of your project. On average, a homeowner will spend anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 to have house plans drawn up. Depending on your budget and personal preferences, you can choose to hire an architect, a drafter, or a building designer to design your house plans.
To help you understand the costs and corresponding benefits of each designer, this article highlights the primary differences between these three design professionals, so you can make the most informed and cost-effective decision.
Working with an architect
An architect is a trained professional that designs house plans and oversees the entire building process. Oftentimes, architects are degree-holders who have been mentored by qualified professors on a university campus. Qualified architects acquire the necessary skillset from hands-on experience, i.e. working with clients and collaborating with other experts involved in building projects. To be recognized as a professional architect, one must register with the relevant national or state bodies.
The cost of hiring an architect
It’s important to note that hiring an architect will be more expensive than hiring a building designer or a drafter. Their fee is usually calculated based on a percentage of the building cost. The fee can vary based on the project scope and/or the complexity of the project.
The average fee to hire an architect ranges from $2,016 – $8,576. For those who charge on a percentage basis, the cost ranges from 5%-20% of the overall project cost. However, most architect companies charge between $125 and $250 an hour.
Working with a building designer
A building designer is a professional who develops design drawings and plans for new homes and extensions. These designers usually work very closely with clients. Their job description entails obtaining briefs from clients and producing preliminary designs/design concepts based on clients’ budgets. Typically, a builder designer will visit the site and collaborate with local authorities to obtain building approvals and other permissions. They also submit the required documentation that the local government may require.
The major difference between a building designer and an architect is their level of education and professional regulation. Because of their differing levels of education, building designer services often charge less to draft house plans.
When choosing a building designer, be sure to review their level of expertise. Verify that the builder has a license and check their professional qualifications. To decide if a builder’s designs are worth the projected costs, scan their portfolio of work. You can also reference their previous designs in your neighborhood to see if they appeal to your design aesthetic. Similarly, you can investigate whether or not a building designer in your area belongs to a recognized professional body and weigh the pros and cons of hiring a building designer without the prestige of a professional organization backing their work.
The cost of hiring a building designer
Building designers work with different cost structures and bill for house plans differently. Some charge a fixed fee, while others charge an hourly fee. These charges will vary depending on the scope of the work and the type of service.
For instance, the basic services of a building designer will involve project design, liaising with other building consultants, site visits, client consultation, and standard drawings. An upgraded service package will include additional services including landscape design, interior design, coordination with relevant consultants, and/or electrical layout plans. A complete package will merge basic and advanced services with the added bonus of full support during the building process.
Most building designers charge a certain percentage of the total cost of the project. Less expensive projects take up a higher percentage than the more expensive ones. For instance, a renovation or new home priced at $190,000 can attract a fee of 7.5% of the total construction cost or five percent for basic service and $14,200 for full service. On the other hand, for a project with a building cost of more than $500,000, a building designer will only charge about 7% of the total.
Working with a drafter
Drafters are professionals with certifications in either drafting or building design. Most drafters work for construction companies, larger drafting service firms, and architectural companies. With the right training, experienced drafters can become building designers. When they acquire more experience, they can design stunning home extensions and interior renovations.
In addition to producing drawings, an experienced drafter will communicate with local government to acquire building permits and may also confer with other building consultants, if necessary. A drafter can also conduct a site assessment, prepare preliminary drawings for clients, and finalize drawings for the local authorities.
Some drafters work independently, while others work for larger firms. When choosing a draftsperson, it’s important to consider their professional qualifications and experience. Your scope of work, however, should have a greater impact on your final decision.
The cost of hiring a drafter
Drafters use different cost structures. They can charge on a percentage basis, per hour, or per square meter. The average cost of a design plan will range from $2500 to $6000. On a square meter basis, a designer will charge between $16/square meters to $25/square meter. The hourly rates range from $90 – $180 an hour. Don’t forget that rates vary from one drafter to the other and are based on the scope of services provided. If you’re willing to sacrifice experience and education for cost-effectiveness, opting for a drafter will help you avoid unnecessary costs. If you’re committed to hiring the most experienced and qualified house plan designer, you should invest in the services of an architect.