Most of us have heard nightmare remodel stories from friends who decided they could handle remodeling without hiring professionals to assist them. Often these people are "thrifty" - you know the type - always in the restroom when it comes time to pay the check at a restaurant. Well, when putting a building together, this sort of tightfistedness always costs the cheapskate a bundle if they skimp on professional fees.
Two professionals are essential for even small projects: A licensed architect and a licensed general contractor. The Architect develops a design, drawings, and specifications that are consistent with your needs, desires, and budget. They work with the city to obtain permits and assist you in selecting a competent contractor. A general contractor hires and coordinates the work of subcontractors, a difficult and specialized task. Costs vary based on a number factors, but a good rule of thumb is that you can expect to spend between 5% and 10% of your overall construction material and labor costs for the services of each professional and their consultants and subcontractors. So if we take the middle of that range, for a $500,000 custom home you should budget around $40,000 for architectural and engineering services. This fee may go up or down depending on the clients needs, number of changes they request to the design, and its complexity. Simple buildings with few changes will cost less, complex buildings with a client who wishes to explore and develop many alternatives, or who makes a lot of changes after the schematic design phase is complete will pay more.