Renovating your house can be a small or a large project. Smaller jobs, like painting walls, updating fixtures, or replacing floors, you may be able to do yourself or with the help of a qualified tradie. But bigger jobs, like adding an extension or an extra floor onto your house, may require additional expertise, such as that offered by an architect.
How much does an architect charge?
Many architects base their fees on the total build cost, expressed as a percentage. The more involved the architect is in the project, the higher the percentage you may need to budget for.
For example, if you only need the architect to draw up plans for your renovation, you may only need to pay a 5% or 6% fee. But if you want the full service from the architect, from making plans to applying for council permits to managing the build project, you may have to pay fees of 8% to 15%. However, for smaller jobs, you may only need to pay an hourly fee or a fixed fee.
You can always ask an architect directly how much they charge and/or how much you can expect to pay for their services on a project. Architects who belong to professional architectural industry associations are obliged to follow codes of conduct, which include keeping your budget in mind.
You can apply for quotes from different architects before locking in your choice, so you may want to consider comparing your options. Remember that different architects may follow different design principles – you may want to check that these principles align with your own ideas and preferences for your renovation before making a decision.
What can an architect do for you?
You may think of an architect as someone who designs fancy new buildings. This is mostly true, but there’s also more to it than just that.
Architects are experts in the art and science of planning and designing buildings. As well as designing building projects for clients, architects can provide valuable advice at every stage of a building project. Architects can even manage the project on the client’s behalf, liaising with builders, local councils, legal experts, surveyors, engineers, accountants and other professionals as required.
An architect may be able to assist you with:
- Initial consultation
- Schematic design
- Design development
- Preparation of construction documents
- Construction contract administration
Do you need an architect, a draftsperson, or a building designer?
You may not always need an architect for every renovation or building project. In some cases you may be able to engage the services of a draftsperson or building designer instead. While these three job titles sound like they perform similar roles, there are several important differences to consider:
For smaller, simpler projects that don’t require design work, you may only require the services of a draftsperson – an expert in drawing up blueprints and designs for builders to follow. Draftspeople often go to TAFE to learn their skills, but there aren’t specific education, training or licensing requirements to become a draftsperson.
A building designer can offer some of the same services as a draftsperson and an architect, though they lack the experience and qualifications of an architect. You may be able to hire a building designer to look after a mid-sized project of middling complexity at a lower price point than an architect.
To be officially licensed and registered, an architect has to hold a university degree (requiring several years of study), complete a minimum number of hours work experience as a building designer (often at least two years worth), and pass a licensing exam with the state or territory government. This extra experience and qualification requirement means you can typically rely on a registered architect to offer expert advice when taking care of large and/or complex renovations and building projects that require significant design work, though their fees are likely to be higher than those of a draftsperson or building designer.
How can you finance your renovation?
Unless you’ve managed to save up some money to cover your renovation’s costs, you may need to consider other options to pay your architect, builders, and other renovation specialists.
A few of these options could include:
- Redraw from your home loan: If you’ve been making extra home loan repayments over the years, you may be able to redraw this money from your mortgage to help pay for your renovation. Of course, this may halt any progress you’ve made towards paying off your property early, reducing your total interest savings.
- Access your offset account: Money in your offset account can usually be conveniently accessed to pay for expenses such as renovations. Though much like using your redraw, taking money out of your offset account can mean no longer being charged less interest on your mortgage.
- Refinance for a loan top-up: If you’ve built up the equity in your property, you may be able to refinance your mortgage (with your current lender or another) and borrow more to help pay for your renovation. Of course, this means paying interest on your renovation budget over time, and your home loan may take longer to pay off.
- Access a line of credit: Instead of topping up your home loan when you refinance, you may be offered the option to access a line of credit, which works a lot like a credit card with a limit based on your available equity in the property. Keep interest costs and fees in mind when considering this option.
- Take out a personal loan:Personal loans for renovations can offer a simple way to manage your budget, keeping everything in one place. It’s important to compare personal loan interest rate, fees, features and benefits before making a choice.