Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Architects Don’t Just Draw Plans

Last year, I made a video answering the question, how much do architectural services cost?

It is my most viewed video from last year! I guess it gets to the first question most people have about hiring an architect.

Two basic questions have shown up in the comments to that video. The first is related to the rule of thumb of 15% of the construction cost. I’ll be addressing that question in a future video. The second is about the compensation being an “awful lot” for “just drawing up some plans”. This the the comment I want to answer in this post.

I may have asked for that comment given the title on the thumbnail (see above). But, the comment that the rule of thumb compensation is a lot of money to pay somebody to just draw up some plans ignores all that we do.

It also means that I, and other architects, haven’t done a very good job of describing just what it is that architects do.

We don’t just draw plans.

Preparing the documents for a new house, remodel, or addition is only about 30-40% of what an architect does.

So you can see it isn’t even most of what an architect does.

We do so much more.

  • We research the local zoning codes to determine governmental limitations on your site.
  • We analyze the site to determine the best way to locate and orient your property with your specific needs in mind.
  • We work with you to come up with a design that is functional, affordable, complies with the zoning regulations, complies with the building codes, and – hopefully – is also beautiful.
  • We help you get permission to build. In some jurisdictions, getting planning/zoning permission to build can take months and may involve multiple public meetings depending on the design and the site.
  • We coordinate the work of civil and structural engineers. We help coordinate the work of kitchen designers, interior designers, landscape architects, security systems, home theater systems, and a myriad of other potential consultants if they are required for your project,
  • We help you select materials and finishes.
  • We determine how to build the house so that it remains standing, does not leak, and is resistant to weather and vermin, and does not waist energy, stays warm in winter and cool in the summer.
  • We document the design for permitting and bidding by contractors (This is the drawing up of plans and preparation of specifications).
  • We help to shepherd the project through the permitting process (again, depending on the jurisdiction, this can be quick or very slow).
  • We often – and it is in your best interest – represent you during construction, answering questions from the builder, from inspectors, and help resolve any construction issues that might arise, review changes proposed by the builder, look to see if the construction is in compliance with the design and the documentation, review the contractor’s requests for payment to verify if the invoices are accurate, and perform final walk throughs to verify if construction is complete and the building complies with the design documents.

These are just some of the services architects provide. We are your guides through the process, helping you navigate the governmental approval processes, helping you find and select a builder, designing a home that meets YOUR needs, and representing you and your concerns during construction.

That’s a whole lot more than “just drawing up plans.”



If you are interested in building a new home, an ADU, or remodeling your current home, get your copy of my Project Planning Cheat Sheet to help you prepare by setting a realistic budget and schedule. Just sign up in the form on the right side of this page.

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