Syllabus / Pricing 101

Understanding architect fees


How architect's charge

Architects in New York City working on high-end home renovation projects typically charge one of three ways:

  • As a percentage atop construction costs: this is a common fee structure however owners on very high-end projects often wish to avoid paying a percentage atop high-end materials. 
  • An hourly rate: hourly rates typically apply to early stages of design when the scope of work is not yet established.
  • As a fixed fee: fixed fees typically apply to later stages of design when the scope of work is established.


Typical fees

The hourly rates (or percentage of construction costs) you can expect to pay in New York City depends upon the skill and experience of the architect. For a new architect just starting out you should expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $200 per hour (between 7.5% and 15% of your project) for the full range of services (see breakdown below).

For an experienced architect (say 20+ years) with a large portfolio of work who has been featured in top industry publications and perhaps even received some awards, expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $350 per hour (between 15% and 25% of your project).


How fees typically breakdown

Architects offer a range of services (typically following the nomenclature of the American Institute of Architects) and often break their fee down as follows:

  • A Schematic design (20%): understanding the current building, issues of the space and structure and your goals for the project. 

  • B Design development (10%): making the concepts more concrete; investigating the materials, textures, lighting, objects and furnishings. Renderings and computer models are often used at this stage to communicate ideas.

  • C Permit drawings & construction documents (40%): producing the construction documents (which describe the specific dimension, material or product specification required to build/ install the design) and prepare everything required for approval by your coop building and D.O.B. (usually with the assistance of an expediter). 

  • D Procurement (5%): submitting the construction documents to several contractors for pricing and analyze these to help you make the best decision.

  • E Construction Administration (25%): If your architect is helping manage the construction then they'll review the work done on site to help ensure its conformance with the design and construction documents. 


The value architects add to your home

Besides needing a licensed architect to ensure your renovation gains the necessary permits to be legally compliant, doing a high-end home renovation project in New York City is subject to a number of unique (and potentially costly) issues that an experienced architect can help protect you against. 

These practical and legal reasons are enough on their own, but are not necessarily the most important.  A good Architect has the experience, skill and very often, talent, to develop a process and design you simply could not produce on your own.  He or she can represent and help you understand the myriad of options out there; listen and shape your goals into a structure that is both productive and relevant; and having gone through the process many times before, guide you in what is for most, a unique expenditure of a great deal of money.

Also, if you are spending $200,000 on a home renovation, spending an additional 40,000 to ensure you have an optimally designed space to live in for years to come is money well spent.


Possible additional fees

Architects will typically charge extra for expediting ($1,000 to $3,000), government agency fees and any additional revisions to drawings and site visits above and beyond the agreed amount.




This post is intended for informational purposes only and is general in nature as it does not take into account your personal renovation situation. You should really consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a licensed architect, general contractor or financial / legal adviser.