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Hiring an Architect is Expensive!

Updated: Mar 14

I hear this a lot. But is it really true?

Whenever we evaluate the cost of something we must also consider what is included.

An architect looks pretty affordable when you consider everything they do, the expertise they have, and the holistic approach they bring to your project.

Everything an architect does on a job has to be done by someone, why shouldn't it be the architect?

Architects hourly rates vary from around $80 to $350 an hour or more depending on their experience and qualifications and the complexity of the job. These rates are not high considering architects typically have 8-12 years of formal education and internships and are licensed professionals working with advanced technology. They also usually carry insurance that protects both you and them during the project. Overall, the architect's fee may be only 4-12% of the overall construction budget, a small portion of the overall cost.

I think the idea that architects are "too expensive" comes from countless industry players that stand nearby wanting to take a slice of your valuable project budget. These include space planners, site planners, project managers, construction managers, interior designers and decorators, lighting designers, zoning and building code consultants, permit expeditors, parking consultants, and now more recently, energy and sustainable design consultants.

Buyer beware.

All of these players cost a fair amount themselves and if you don't have an architect it is you, the building owner that will have to coordinate between all of them.

Your architect, a versatile generalist and well-rounded multi-specialist is trained in all of the above and more. Architects act as stewards to your project, ensuring it gets a successful outcome. Architects are problem solvers and visionaries. They are expert negotiators and by default, diplomats. The job of the architect is to occupy a pivot position, the hub among spokes that translates project elements into a harmonious whole.

And this is why I've noticed that as the prevalence of other specialists increase in the construction industry, I hear the praise for architects INCREASING.


Because architects have demonstrated professional experience in their jobs, making it easier on everyone. In other words, we play by a set of rules that is known and understood by the rest of the industry players. The barrier for entry into our profession is very high and the result is architects are highly skilled professionals with the knowledge, integrity, and competency to safeguard the welfare of the public.

What else?

You must also consider the cost of not hiring an architect or engaging in only partial services.

First, design mistakes are costly to fix once they are built. Second, in the absence of the architect, miscommunication and delays occur, quality suffers, and projects derail, costing owners far more than the architect's fee would have been. Plus all the headaches, literally, that come with construction projects. Thirdly, consider also the long-term impact on your quality of life with cohesive and aesthetically pleasing spaces. Along with this, consider the long-term costs of poorly coordinated or poorly executed construction projects which are among the most expensive things people pay for, more than cars, weddings, and overseas vacations combined. There's a reason experienced building owners such as hospitals and universities hire architects and praise their professionalism and integrity.

I'll conclude here by repeating a saying I heard from a fellow architect who said you don't buy quality you invest in it. That's because quality endures and enriches. Investing pays dividends. Hiring an architect is a step toward a brighter future.

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