What Are AutoCAD Designer Rates, Drafting Costs & Services Company Pricing?

Autocad designer rates

Today we are looking at AutoCAD design rates, drafting costs & prices for services rendered. CAD drafting is among the earliest stages of a new construction or home renovation. Architects and engineers work together to develop a clearly defined plan on how the building will be constructed and how it should look upon completion. If homeowners must finance the project, the bank will need a finished plan drawing for the house. Whether an architect or a draftsperson does the drawings, they must earn the final approval from a structural engineer. 

Table of contents

Estimated AutoCAD designer rates

Pre-drawn plan drawings

Building sizePriceCustomized plans cost
1,000$350 – $750$1,000 – $5,000
1,500$500 – $1,100$1,500 – $7,500
2,000$700 – $1,500$2,000 – $10,000
2,500$900 – $1,900$2,500 – $12,500
3,000$1,000 – $2,300$3,000 – $15,000
3,500$1,200 – $2,600$3,500 – $17,500

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Pricing by qualification

Estimates by project & professional qualifications
ProfessionalsPrice rangeServices
Drafter$800 – $3,500Blueprints, plan drawings for addition, convert an existing plan into CAD blueprints
Home designer + engineer + drafter$5,000 – $15,000Blueprints for major additions, plan drawings for new designs, and custom house plan
Architectural firm$10,000 – $30,000Blueprints and ready-to-build plan drawings for custom designs or significant renovations and remodels, multiple plan revisions

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Pricing methods

Estimates by pricing strategies
Hourly $30 – $120
Per square foot$0.30 – $5
Per CAD sheet$35 – $180
Blueprint printing per sheet$0.05 – $10
Blueprint printing per sheet + waterproofing$2.55 – $40

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Hourly rate

Based on complexity and drafter’s qualification, CAD drafting services hourly rates range from $30 to $120

CAD drafting services hourly rate
Freelancer$30 – $85
Design (or construction) company drafter$80 – $120


  • A sheet of CAD drawing for a primarily residential building takes 8 – 15 hours to draw.
  • A complete set of blueprints may consist of multiple sheets of CAD drawings.
  • It takes 25 – 70 hours to produce blueprints set for one home.

The timeframe increases based on the scope of work. The average timeframe is one week for the drafting task alone. Added with consultation and corrections by a structural engineer and architect, turnaround time can be up to four months for a home.

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Per Square Foot

CAD drafting services per square foot cost from $0.35 to $5. It may not sound like much, but the pricing method is best when you know the exact square footage of the building. The average house size in the United States is around 2,200 square feet. Even if you take the bottom end of the pricing spectrum, you’ll pay $770 for a basic plan drawing service.

CAD drafting cost per square foot
ComplexityEstimateScope of work
Stock/basic$0.35 – $0.75Changes to pre-drawn home plans or updates to existing drawings, done by freelancers
Semi-custom$0.75 – $1.5Revisions to stock plans, new additions, major remodels, or alterations to interior design
Custom$1 – $5Structural changes, extensive design styling, multiple plan drawings done by professionals at an architectural firm

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All prices included do not cover the cost for architect or engineering service reviews, and prices also do not cover customization fees. An architect may charge more than $15 per sq. ft. to implement changes to a completed CAD draft by a structural engineer’s requirements. 

Conversion pricing

It takes $35 to $180 to convert a sheet of plan drawing from the old-school physical print to digital CAD, and turnaround time is the most significant factor affecting the price.

CAD drafting cost per sheet
Expected completion time2D plan drawings3D plan drawings
4 – 6 weeks$35 – $140$160 – $180
3 – 10 days$45 – $350$250 – $480
One day $140 – $690

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Things to consider

CAD drawings are essential for nearly all technical aspects of architectural projects of any scale. They function as visual tools to help designers, architects, and engineers to communicate ideas with each other and to homeowners. General contractors also use the drawings as guidelines to complete the construction process.

Some homeowners may prefer purchasing ready-made plan drawings from an architectural firm. It allows them to start a project immediately without hiring a draftsperson beforehand. While the decision can speed up project completion time, the options for design become limited. Homeowners cannot find many aspects of their design preference from pre-drawn plans. CAD drawings for remodeling projects will be near impossible to find because drafters must also consider the shape of existing buildings. Other important points to note:

  • Drafting doesn’t have to produce construction plans that meet zoning, fire, and building codes. The drawings must be approved by an architect and a structural engineering expert before use. It will be more accessible and more affordable at the end of the day if you hire an architect to do it in the first place. Even when an architect draws, a structural engineer must approve the plan drawings.

RELATED: Structural engineering rates & costs for architectural design firms

  • Pre-drawn plans can be modified and completed quicker than creating full custom CAD drawings. The former costs less than the latter, and a custom design takes at least 24 hours to complete. 
  • Any new construction always requires a permit. Remodeling and renovation projects may not require permits, as long as they do not alter the existing structure to a considerable extent. Consult the architect or general contractor about the matter. If permits are required, they can assist you in the process.
  • When you have a clear idea of the intended architectural design, the right time to hire someone to create plan drawings, you can reduce the total cost by minimizing the number of corrections, especially if you pay per hour.
  • It is called a “blueprint,” which does not necessarily mean you will receive the old-fashioned drawings on vellum paper. Unless there is a need for hand-drawn drafts, most architects or draftspersons will do the job on a computer using CAD software and send the completed drawings on a flash drive or CD-ROM. 

CAD drafting is not something you do with a DIY approach. The job requires in-depth knowledge and technical understanding of construction, design, engineering, and CAD software; in other words, it is a job left to professionals. Although you can create rough drafts of a building, most homeowners cannot produce blueprints to be legally used for construction purposes. 

RELATED: Hire freelancers & contractors on Cad Crowd for support with architecture, houses & building design


Factors that affect the cost

When homeowners are looking to hire drafting services, they must communicate the design needs and timeline with the draftsperson. Subsequently, the professional handling the task will have to discuss every possible factor that may affect the total cost. Among them include:

Types of drawing

CAD drafts come in several types, such as orthographic 2D, isometric 3D, color, and black and white. Each comes at a different price. Every type also has some subtypes; for example, 3D interior design drawing may include furniture layout, elevations, electrical installation, plumbing schemes, and lighting. Generally, the more detailed the picture, the higher the price.

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A significant factor that affects the price is the number of views you need. A draftsperson can provide multiple versions of the same building, seen from different viewing angles. Depending on the complexity, a single project can sometimes take a dozen plans (or more drawings). An architect may need only one view with room sections and elevations, while an interior designer probably has to use multiple floorplans for a multi-story house. More views mean longer working hours for the draftsperson, leading to a higher cost.

Hourly Rate

Hiring a draftsperson hourly is a cost-saving measure because you only pay for the time the professional spends on your project. The professional already knows how many hours it takes to produce the drawings. If the rate is $50/hour and the draft can be done in ten hours, the cost should be fixed at $500. However, most draftspersons probably know some revisions will be required following completion, and exactly how many times they must revise the work is unknown until the final approval. 

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Every revision means extra working hours. Depending on the scale of the correction to be made, a revision can be an hour, two hours, five hours, and perhaps longer. Many draftspersons say the first (sometimes also the second) revision is a service included in the initial price. It is unclear whether the term applies to only minor corrections or significant changes. One thing is sure: any work exceeding the time limit counts as additional hours. When the revision calls for extensive changes, the draftsperson may consider the request a new order. 

Additional services

Apart from the actual job of CAD drafting, all other tasks are regarded as additional services. For example, the client wants to have the completed drawing converted into another format, modify an existing plan and turn it into a digital file, transform a 2D plan drawing into a 3D version, or develop a 3D floor plan based on a draft. All those services are available, and the draftsperson is only happy to provide them for the client for an extra fee.

The cost for CAD drafting is hardly a fixed price. Even if you pay the draftsperson by the hours spent on the job, the estimate is also calculated based on the job’s complexity. A challenging project takes more hours to complete than a simpler one. The same thing applies to per-sheet and per sq. ft. pricing strategies. 

How can Cad Crowd Help?

At Cad Crowd, we have the privilege of working with some of the best architectural design freelancers in the world. If you’re looking for help with your project, please get in touch with us for a free quote.