architecture, architect, charlotte, nc, design, graphic design, web design, 
sustainability, sustainable consultation, green building, sc, south carolina, carolina, north carolina, eco, ecofriendly, green, designer, interior design, urban design, house, 
residential, commercial, aia, industrial, office, archive, testimonials, testamony, client,
GIY, g.i.y., blog, clients, containers, container, shipping containers

circa 2010
Elena M. Michel, Msc.

So, you're on the fence. Do you go with the safe wear-with-anything beige cardigan or the throw-caution-to-the-wind apricot angora jumper? Thankfully, you've found the fitting room.

You don't need to be reminded that embarking on a building adventure is expensive. However, it certainly pays off if you approach it as an investment. But how do you know if you are making a solid investment or you're being over charged by your designer?

Below are a few tips to point you in the right direction.


  • Choose your top three designers for three comparable fee quotes.
  • Introductory meetings are free at respectable practices.
  • Ensure the fee quote is broken down with explanations and services defined.
  • Some practices require a retainer fee; be certain to inquire.
  • *Negotiate.


Like snowflakes, leaves, and your fingerprints, calculating costs for building design services is individual to every project. However, we have put together a cost estimator using AIA research as a launching point. Once thing is certain: the complexity of a project influences the fees.

 Total Arch. Fee
  ≤ $150,000
  18% x Budget
  > $150,000
  15% x Budget
  ≤ $500,000
  10% x Budget
  ≤ $1,000,000
   8% x Budget
  ≤ $10,000,000
   5% x Budget

Get an idea of the fees by using the table above. Start by establishing your total budget and dividing it by the coordinating percentage in the table. Finally, use the image below to determine the fees through design process as outlined by the AIA.



$46,000 budget x 18% = $8,100 Fee

$8,100 Fee x 15% SD = $1,250 SD