Drafting Services Rates vs. Architectural Development Costs & Differences in Pricing


For any significant additions or remodels to your home, you will require the services of a draftsman (or an architect for more complicated projects) to draft your house plans. These plans are vital for taking an idea from the conceptual stage to its construction and are usually done with CAD (computer-aided design) software. Costs for graphs and drawings can vary greatly depending on the services you need, the scope of the project, and the preferred turnaround time.

National Average Cost$2,100
Average Range$1,500- $2,500
Minimum Cost$1,000
Maximum Cost$3,000

The national average cost to hire a drafting technician is $2,100. However, the tools utilized, the project’s complexity, the draftsman’s experience, and the total time dedicated to the project can affect the final cost significantly. 

Architect vs. draftsman

An architect’s services will invariably cost more than a structural draftsman’s services, as their required level of education is much higher. Choosing between a drafter and an architect to draft your plans can be tricky. An architect is needed to design creative solutions for an aesthetically pleasing environment and a functional structure. Suppose the project is a run-of-the-mill service that relies more on functionality than aesthetics. In that case, you may want to save some money and hire a drafting technician who works with technical details rather than developing a design.

They can turn a solid idea into a feasible plan for any construction project. Additionally, a draftsman’s work begins once you approve the blueprints for your desired construction. However, an architect customarily oversees and often manages the entire process, from planning to construction. If you think you will run into many unexpected problems and need someone with professional design experience during the process, consider having an architect on board. 



Five key factors affect the price of hiring a drafter: size, complexity, tools used, plan type, and timeframe. 

1. Size

For starters, when the draftsman charges per square foot for your house plans, typically, the bigger the house, the higher the plan price. It’ll also take way more time to design a home than a one-room addition, no matter how simple or complex. When a draftsman charges by the hour, your project’s size can hurt your wallet. Additionally, it costs more for many templates and drawings. You can see that the E-Size template is significantly more expensive than the A-Size template.

4-6 Weeks10 Days5 Days3 Days1 Day

2. Timeframe

The chart above demonstrates that the turnaround time is an excellent detail regarding the price of architectural drafting services. Let’s say you plan to rush your design; the draftsman may charge for those extra hours and obstacles they’ll go to to get your plans to you on time, including the fact that they may turn down other projects. Ultimately, a drafter will decide if it is worth rushing a project. Consequently, there is usually a considerable rush fee if you need your plans hastily.

To avoid the cost, consider that arranging your plans quickly is nearly sacrificing quality, and patience can lead to a more successful and satisfactory result. Secondly, organize a general timeline for the project before talking to any professional draftsman, so you don’t run into a situation where you mismeasure things.

3. Tools used

Most drafters/architects use CAD software for a more manageable and efficient approach than drafting plans by hand. Usually, the type of software will also affect the cost since expensive programs will produce a higher-quality deliverable. The draftsman must pay for the software, so you may expect them to make a higher markup accordingly. 

4. Plan type

Creating custom plans from scratch will always be more expensive than pre-created methods due to the extra time and effort. However, sometimes modifying stock plans or other custom plans will be around the same price, as altering specific structures of a pre-created plan can be tricky. Either way, it is essential to remember that the less design work for the architect, the lower the cost.

5. Complexity

When it comes to a challenging project, you may expect the price to be higher. Adding unusual details, such as new gas lines or plumbing, will raise the price as additional design work can be time-consuming. Staying simple is your best bet to keeping costs down.

Key tips when hiring a draftsman/architect

  • Do not shy away from a steep hourly charge. The professional’s charge is steep for a reason. Their work is most likely excellent quality and is experienced, saving you money in the long run (fewer repairs).
  • Check your local laws to determine if you need to hire an architect, as you may only need a drafter, which can save you a lot of money! However, remember that a fair share of projects requires an architect’s stamp of approval. 
  • Write neatly and clearly when marking up a 3D CAD drawing for a redline markup service. The easier it is for the professional, the less you’ll have to pay!
  • If you live in a city, be prepared for higher costs than you may see in this article. Location plays a subtle yet significant influence on hourly rates and standard project fees!
  • If you have a particular vision for your project, you may consider investing in a $25 to $75 beginner software program to design a basic floor plan. While this is not CAD software, it can be instrumental in communicating with your drafter what you would like and can decrease the back-and-forth discussions and, ultimately, the final cost for the draftsman’s services.
  • Commercial drafting services will always cost more, as sprinkler systems, mechanical and HVAC drawings are required. There are also different plan types, such as flooring, elevation, section, and perspective, and most are needed for large and more complicated structures.

RELATED: Billable Rates for Architect’s Design Services, Architectural Costs & Hourly Fees


Rate types and average costs

There are two principal metrics by which a draftsman/architect can charge you. It is helpful to note that an hourly charge is most common for architectural drafting.

Draftsman hourly rate

Average drafting rates run between $75 and $125 per hour. An architect’s hourly charge is significantly more, at about $350 to $400 per hour. Freelance rates tend to be lower than the hourly rates of a company. When deciding whether to hire a freelancer or from a firm, consider the environment you’d like to work in throughout the project. If you need more guidance, you may consider hiring a firm that provides customer support. However, freelancers may not be so readily available, but they can offer more customization than standard services.

Draftsman costs per square foot

You may expect to pay between $0.05 and $2.25 per sq. ft. for drafting fees on your home plan. Typically, the cost depends on the complexity of your project’s specifications. Prices run higher when special requests are challenging for the drafter, such as adding unique staircases.

Cost by specific services

House plans

The two main types of house plan a homeowner may consider for their new residence are premade and custom. Premade house plans run approximately $600 and $1,000, while a custom home plan can run between $1,500 and $2,500. Homeowners may choose to have custom plans drawn when they have particular designs and room configurations in mind that no stock plans match. 

Another option is to have stock plans slightly modified. The cost for this service will be in between a premade plan and custom plan pricing. Drafters often charge by the square foot for house plans, as the size of the house is an accurate representation of the effort and time it will take to draft blueprints. 

Adding supplementary house plans is about $1,200 to $1,500 (approximately 1,000 sq. ft.) The price for a complete remodel is roughly between $2,000 and $2,500, and this is because a draftsman or an architect will require more time to figure out how to utilize what is already in place. 

Redline markups

Redline markups are physical markups on hardcopy CAD drawings. CAD companies can incorporate a client’s markups into an existing CAD file by making text or dimension changes. The average cost for this service is about $55 per sheet, but for a rush service of about one day, you can expect this cost to be nearly $155. However, this is typically considered an add-on service, so your final price may be much higher, considering hourly charges or a flat fee for the CAD services. 

Land surveys

Land surveys are an additional service necessary to ensure the plans will be feasible on the terrain. This may include checking property lines or the soil for potential toxic elements. For a land survey, you may expect to pay around $400 to $1,200. This is an integral part of the drafting process, as any discoveries must be reflected in the plans.


For a set of blueprints, expect to pay between $10 and $60, depending on the material you want them on. Paper sheets may cost anywhere from $0.05 to $8.50 per sheet, a risky material as they can get torn and easily destroyed on the Jobsite. Tyvek sheets are waterproof and durable and are $3 to $20 per sheet. Bindings and covers add $2 to $20 per set. It is common to have pdf versions of the blueprints readily available on tablets on the Jobsite, but the demand for hard copies is still around.

RELATED: Mistakes to Avoid When Deciding an Architectural Visualization Firm

Review house plans services

Whether your project is a new house, an addition, or remodel, it is vital not to make any mistakes. Have your plans reviewed by a professional and make sure there are no glaring mistakes, so your project will turn out as you expect. Review services may often cost between $200 – $400.

How Cad Crowd can help

Cad Crowd offers a full range of architectural design services for clients and architects. From 2D drawings, floor plan design, Architectural drawing, Architectural site planning, CAD drafting, Electrical drafting, and many more! Check us out here at Cad Crowd to access a comprehensive platform of vetted and talented engineers ready to bring your idea to life. Get a free quote today!