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architect fees for residential remodeling and new construction

September 22, 2015























Franfurt Annex.jpg

Franfurt Annex.jpg













New Home - Fairfax, VA

Small Master Bath Addition - Alexandria, VA

Whole House Remodel and Additions - Yardley, PA

Structural Repair and Interior Renovation - Alexandria, VA

So you think you need and Architect, but what fees and costs are involved?

The short legal answer is for residential, single family homes under 5,000 square feet (sf), in VA and most other states, you do not require a licensed architect; however, an Architect can polish your remodel, add individuality and creativity to your home's appearance and help guide you through the design, materials selection and construction process.


At GP+A architecture our philosophy is an educated client is a happy client. Knowledge lends itself to decisions that are both beneficial and satisfying. Our mission is to help our clients succeed and thrive by design and education.

As both an Architect and General Contractor I have a unique perspective on both design and construction, as well as, the effort needed to communicate your desired outcome within your budget to a contractor.  Before proceeding, these questions must be asked and answered:

  • do we know what we want?

  • do we want inexpensive?

  • do we want quality?

  • do we want unique?

  • do we want craftsmanship?

  • do we want to improve the value of our property?

  • how soon do we need it?


The answers determine the quality of the architect, services sought, and contractor needed.  The homeowner, can not always have quality and economy; and, inexperience or poor craftsmanship can lead to home devaluation, or worse.  So, picking the contractor is of utmost importance also; but, that's another subject.

So you watch HGTV? I enjoy some of the showss too.  However, most of these shows give unrealisitc pricing for services and scope based on product placement, and fee for work not charged. Skeptical? Try getting a kitchen remodeled for $6,000 in th DC Metro area.

The following is a brief guideline and primer to our fee structure for residential work. As each project is unique so too the scope of work, and scope of services requested (i.e.: what you want done, and what we will do for you).

Fees are charged on the following basis: hourly, per project (as a flat fee), per service (which may be a flat fee or not to exceed agreed amount).

Depending on project size, and owner preferences, a flat fee is standard.

Many sources provide fees as a percentage of construction, and while this is true, it is not always the case. However, it is a good guideline for you to consider in budgeting. These figures are for the DC Metro Area.

A quick reference (a range is necessary to cover variables):

[Envelope and Finish selections are always cost variables] 


New Construction Costs:  $165 - 310/sf  (scope, materials, finishes dependent)

House Remodel:               $135 - $150+/sf

Additions:                          $110 - $135+/sf (no issues, on grade, basic low                                                                              grade finishes, no remodeling)

                                          $165+/sf (second story, or complex projects)

      Note:  The average addition/remodel is currently pricing at approximtely 

                 $210/sf average. Whole House remodels with additions in modern                     style with luxury finishes (pricing dependent) is running                                       approximately $310/sf.


Modular Construction:

    Shell:                             $60-$75/sf (No finishes, drywall only)
    Finished:                       $120-150+/sf (delivered and set, other fees apply)
      Note: With Modular Construction additional interior work will be required                     after units are set.  A local GC will be needed obtain a building                           permit and coordinate the work. If renovating the local GC will be                       required to perform all local on-site work. Additional costs vary.                         Plan on a minimum addtional cost of $45/sf - $65/sf, or a GC's flat                    General Supervision fee based on the scope of work. 

                The Modular Company may assume the GC role for fee.


Architectural Fees: 10-20% Depending on complexity and size of project

                                             (Average fees 15% -18%)
Design Fees:           5-20% of construction budget or hourly
                                             (The larger the project the smaller the fee)
Site Visit Fees:         $150/hr. or $500 per visit



Typical Fees associated with Design work for a few common projects are given for reference only, as these fees may be less or more dependent on scope:


Bathroom Remodel Design:             $1,500 - $4,000

Kitchen Remodel Design:                $2,500 - $6,000

Interior Renovation Design:              $1,500 - $8,000
House Floor Plan Designs:               $1,500 - $10,000  ($1.25/sf average) 

Materials Selection, Estimates

or Quotes:                                         $800 - $3,500



We always recommend that we visit a site to observe existing conditions and discuss a project before fees are quoted. Preliminary Site visits are charged at a flat fee of $350.



Architectural fees:     Fees for services that include design development for                                         construction documents, site planning (this is not civil                                         engineering costs, which are separate site development                                     costs), architectural engineering, and other building                                           engineering costs.  


Design Fees:             Fees for preliminary design, schematic design, and                                             sketches. These may include material selections,                                                 however they are most often part of the overall                                                     architectural fees as described below.

New Facade Design - Fairfax Station, VA

The Details:

Design fees are most often charged on an hourly basis.  The reason for this is that most design work happens as a multi scheme process for the Owner's review, comment and selection.  The cost of construction of a project does not determine the architectural fees, but it is a useful guideline in projecting how much design time may be needed to consider the project and produce the drawings.  A full scope of architectural services, as described below, often falls within the range of 10% to 18% of the cost of construction. For large whole house remodels this can be as high 22% if extensive structural work or environmental remediation is required. 

Fees will be in the higher end of that range for projects that consider a master plan, focus primarily on the kitchen and/or bathrooms, and/or have a construction budget below $200K.  The nature of the decision making process, Owner's directives, and the level of design input requested, all affect the overall fees.  Therefore, fees can only be estimated at the start of a project based upon the potential size and complexity of the project and intended work.


Architectural Phases:


The phases of architectural services are described below. Each category notes a percentage of time typically spent in that phase. Phases without a percentage listed may or may not apply to your project, and can be additional services requested for an additional negotiated fee.  These services along with reimbursable expenses are in addition to the estimated fee of 15% to 18% of the construction costs.


Project Initiation: (2.5%)

Review client objectives, aesthetics, space planning, financial goals and schedule. Meet at the site to become familiar with site issues and characteristics. Establish program of spaces with rough square footage for Owner approval. Review coordination with potential project collaborators such as landscape architects, interior decorators, etc.


Existing Conditions Drawings:

These drawings are created for all renovation and addition projects and vary with the size and complexity of the existing building.  Though GP+A architecture typically includes these costs in our fee for services when required of the project this may be an additional cost on some projects. For instance, an owner would like an accurate set of plans for their home; or, an owner would like As-Built drawings for his/her homefor future reference, or proprietry use. 

Costs for creating these drawings commonly range from $1,500 - $6,000.


Preliminary Permitting Review: (2.5% with exclusions)

Review the By-Laws and Covenants which impact the property, review environmental issues, flood zones, and assess overall permitting. Arrange for consultants as necessary.

Should preliminary Planning Board, Board of Health, Building Department and/or engineering review be necessary, these costs are additional services, along with additional art work required for presentation, as well as expenses covered by our standard Terms and Conditions. Costs vary tremendously depending on variables. This is usually an hourly basis for small simple projects, but may be a negotiated fee for larger complex projects where variances, Covenants or Code issues are present or foreseen. Note that these circumstances are almost always for larger residential and commerical oriented developments.

Why GP+A architecture?

By now you have, hopefully, drifted through our website and have garnered an impression we know what we are doing.  

GP+A architecture may not be the most economical nor the most expensive architect in terms of fee;however, I beleive we stand apart from our competition by delivering:


  • Design and Construction expertise.

  • Expertise across a broad range of projects

  • Expereince across a broad range of projects

  • Knowledge from both an Architect's and Contractor's perspective.

  • A track record of clean, smart, in budget, problem free projects.

  • Buildable designs and construction documents hailed by General Contractors and clients for our design, care, detailing and communication of concise, well packaged documents.


We delight in helping our clients thrive and succeed.



Let us help.

Preliminary Pricing/Builder Selection: (5%)

Have a builder(s) review the schematic drawings and an outline specification of possible materials, finishes and products. The builder responds with a preliminary estimate of construction costs with which we review the scope of the project. This is an ideal time to select a builder as their schedules may significantly impact the project.


Design Development: (15%)

Develop the schematic design considering the structure of the house and the specific nature of the rooms with components such as cabinetry, finishes, and details. Develop elevations, plans and sections at a scale appropriate and meeting jurisdictional requirements. In most cases 1/4" = 1'-0" scale.


Construction Document Phase: (35%)

Prepare construction documents and a specification for pricing/bidding and construction. This package generally contains plans, sections, elevations, details, structural, mechanical and electrical drawings and specifications.

The structural drawings may be prepared by structural engineer under separate contract, or GP+A architecture may provide those services as part of our work dependent upon the complexity. The complete package will be used for final pricing and construction.


New Lakefront Residential Design


GP+A architecture will assist the Owners by preparing the necessary Building Permit application.  Most jurisdictions require that the Contractor or Homeowner file for the Building Permit.  If attendance is requested at any public meetings, GP+A architecture can be available to represent the Owner's goals and interests.


Bidding or Pricing: 

Issue drawings and the specifications for pricing. Assist Owner in reviewing costs and signing a contract with the builder.

Construction Documentation revision:

If necessary, revise documents to reflect changes in scope of work after pricing review. Reissue drawings.


Construction Administration: (20% or this can be an Additional Service)

Represent Owner's goals and interests and the intent of the drawings for the duration of the construction period. Resolve design questions in the field and issue construction sketches as necessary. Review and expedite invoicing between the Contractor and Client.  Some clients opt to engage this service as an Additonal Service, paying a negoitates fee, typically 3% of construction, or hourly.


Furniture and Interiors

Assist the owner in researching and selecting furniture, textiles, and other interior elements which are beyond the scope of the General Construction work.


Contract Interiors
Providing the owner with similar services to the overall architectural services, but targeted specifically to the interior architecture and interior design of a room, rooms or whole floor plan. This may include custom millwork, custom furniture, case good pieces, built-ins, moldings, finishes, or interior selections detailing and or specifications.  



There exist many other sources. Some differ slightly on range of costs skewed by national averages. For further reading and investigation we suggest starting with these sources.

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