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Average Hours

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People seem to be shocked when they find out how many hours go into creating a full set of plans.  I began to wonder what the average time would be based on the following.

A.  The design.  Driven in part by the clients decision making abilities.

B.  Construction documents.  Driven by the complexity of the structure.

I have had projects that exceed 200 hrs.  How about you?

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Depends on the project, but it's fairly easy to go over that.  If you do Interior Elevations and Details for a large custom home you might have 300-400 man hours in the entire project. 

 

OTOH, I've done some small projects that only took a couple of days.

 

Design is the most time consuming part.  Chief is pretty quick with the basic ConDocs if you have your Templates set up properly.

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It can definitely vary a lot. I could see some extremely simple house plans being completed within a day but I've also had some cabinetry plans take a good week.

I've never had something take 200 hours, but we also don't do very many large-scale projects and don't often need to deal with full construction documents. In my mind 200 hours is pushing the limits ( at least for the type of work we do), but doesn't sound too ridiculous. It would have to be a pretty big and complicated house though.

And Joe is right, it's really all in the design time. It's not so much in the actual plan production.

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That design time unknown makes it hard to tell someone how long it takes.

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 In my mind 200 hours is pushing the limits ( at least for the type of work we do), but doesn't sound too ridiculous. It would have to be a pretty big and complicated house though.

 

Lets say a 7500 sq ft house, 2 stories + a full finished basement.  Lots of custom millwork (wainscots, moldings & cabinets).  Add Soffits, Tray Ceilings, Custom Stair and Balcony Railings and who knows what else.  It can take a long time.

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Lets say a 7500 sq ft house, 2 stories + a full finished basement. Lots of custom millwork (wainscots, moldings & cabinets). Add Soffits, Tray Ceilings, Custom Stair and Balcony Railings and who knows what else. It can take a long time.

Agreed. Over 200 hours doesn't sound too unreasonable for the project you've described... Especially if you start needing interior furnishings and decorations, renderings, etc.

Custom projects can be incredibly time consuming from a design standpoint and if you're like me and like your 3D model to be comprehensive and accurate...it can take that much longer.

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I don't keep time on my projects anymore. Did when I first started and charged by the hour but had a couple clients that wanted to question the time so just charge by square ft and extent of the job.That way the client knows up front what it is going to cost and I know what I am going to have coming in.

 

Charge half up front and rest on completion of job.That seperates the serious from the shopers and info seekers.

 

Have a great Week,Ken

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I don't keep time on my projects anymore. Did when I first started and charged by the hour but had a couple clients that wanted to question the time so just charge by square ft and extent of the job.That way the client knows up front what it is going to cost and I know what I am going to have coming in.

 

Charge half up front and rest on completion of job.That seperates the serious from the shopers and info seekers.

 

Have a great Week,Ken

Likewise!  Hourly only works if you've got a 8-5 job working for someone else. 

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I have seen it done both ways.  Sq ft charges can lead to a client that takes a very long time to settle on a plan.

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People seem to be shocked when they find out how many hours go into creating a full set of plans.  I began to wonder what the average time would be based on the following.

A.  The design.  Driven in part by the clients decision making abilities.

B.  Construction documents.  Driven by the complexity of the structure.

I have had projects that exceed 200 hrs.  How about you?

 

I haven't had many come close to 200 hrs., over 100hrs quite a few.

 

Just for chuckles, I took a peek at the time into a project I just finished that was 3 floors, with a garage under a garage, 5300 sq.ft.  It came in just under 171 hrs. 

post-59-0-43881900-1455167807_thumb.jpg

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Here(Calif.)  we have to put so much info on the plans, I couldn't charge by the hour, and never have. People just wouldn't go for that. They want to know up front what the fee is (by the S.F.). My incentive is to do it faster and I make more money on it, but that is difficult these days. I'm getting slower and or the cities are making it slower for everything. I understand most of the Country does not experience this ,and would like to retire in a simpler existence. Floor plans and elevations sound good. One thing that is the best time saver and actually make me money, is "Macro's. Who really want to add and subtract numbers all day.

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Average hours on a custom plan varies - that is the definition of custom.  BUT, if I were to shoot for an average, I'd say anywhere from 80-100 hours for a 3,500 sq.ft. home.  I agree with what has already been said about the level of detail- this can have a huge impact.  My typical blueprint is anywhere from 12-18 Arch. D pages.  

 

  I charge hourly for concept and development work since it keeps the client mindful of stretching out the process.  Once we're ready to draft a blueprint it switches to a fixed fee based on sq.ft.

 

 The best way to produce quickly t is to be proficient with the program, make and use templates, keep a good detail library, and draw an accurate 3D model.

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I agree that the detailing can be a real time killer.  The construction documents and tracing load paths to show spread footer locations etc, can take a while.  Some designers don't do that part at all.  It is sometimes done by a structural engineer that does all the drafting required to show those things.

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Most of my recent plans have averaged about 150 hours. Current project I'm working on has now exceeded 1500 hours and that's just the time spent in CA. I'd definitely agree that it varies to a degree depending on the variables. I usually charge by hour for design, though depending on the size of the project I sometimes charge a flat fee per plan and just bill as needed for extras.

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... Current project I'm working on has now exceeded 1500 hours...

YIKES!!! NASA testing facilities? A replacement for the Pentagon?

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HAHA, no it's a 126 acre development that we're building out east of town. Combination of townhomes, single family homes and commercial buildings. So that 1500+ number is just the accumulative hours of all the client approved residential designs being offered to the end buyers as well as all the initial conceptual platting designs. And of course ALLLL the revisions and tweaks and changes that go along with the aforementioned lol. =)

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Question: My bread and butter right now comes from Aerospace 9-5 until my companies design firm is more profitable. I just completed my first spec and am offering it to the public at a home show. I was being asked yesterday about doing customs or modifying my spec. I let them know there would be fees. I can get a feel for the hours it should take since I'm thinking most on this thread are better than average. I am still in a moderate learning curve so I would not want to pass that cost onto my client. I have no idea what to charge though. Is anyone willing to give me a ball park per SF sounds like the best vs hours. If need be shoot me a PM I'd appreciate it. I'm in KS where prices may be lower, I got no idea about home designs, but is in most cases we are a lower cost of living here with house prices around $150,000 on average. My first home is listing @ $395,000, high, above that my client base would in the 33% of population here. 

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Terry:

 

I was on a constant learning curve

so I tried to be fair if I spent 8 hrs learning something new

I would charge 4 hrs

 

sometimes after I had the task figured out I would do that task over

and charge for those hours

 

I preferred hours over sqft as sqft can be very different complexity from a simple square two story box

to a house with lots of curves and corners and other special features

 

calculate the sqft cost - then adjust for complexity and use as cross check for a flat rate estimate

 

I would calculate sqft cost and flat rate cost and provide to client as a ballpark for

determining the hours expected and then collect a retainer based on that estimate of hours

 

I was also developing a scale for level of detail: bronze, silver, gold, platinum

bronze = OOB from chief for materials, door, windows etc

silver = bronze + minor customization

gold = silver + major customization

platinum = silver + total customization

 

to keep clients happy and in the loop

we collected a small retainer like lawyers do

then as we worked down those hours we could send results to the client

without having to be worried about getting paid first

 

as the balance dropped we advised the client when another retainer was needed

work would halt (usually) until the retainer was received then we did the next round

 

this was better than flat rate - because to protect yourself you need to "guess-timate" your time

then add a 25% cushion in case you got it wrong and to cover the client making changes on the fly

that were "too small" to request an adjustment in the flat rate

 

Lew

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A square footage price and or an hourly rate would vary greatly from area to area. There is no rule of thumb you could possibly follow nation wide.

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Paramount

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Posted Today, 02:59 PM

Question: My bread and butter right now comes from Aerospace 9-5 until my companies design firm is more profitable. I just completed my first spec and am offering it to the public at a home show. I was being asked yesterday about doing customs or modifying my spec. I let them know there would be fees. I can get a feel for the hours it should take since I'm thinking most on this thread are better than average. I am still in a moderate learning curve so I would not want to pass that cost onto my client. I have no idea what to charge though. Is anyone willing to give me a ball park per SF sounds like the best vs hours. If need be shoot me a PM I'd appreciate it. I'm in KS where prices may be lower, I got no idea about home designs, but is in most cases we are a lower cost of living here with house prices around $150,000 on average. My first home is listing @ $395,000, high, above that my client base would in the 33% of population here. 

 
 
 
 
Ive been Calling around for the  last year on prices I could not find anyone for less than $5 per sq ft or $150 per hour some even $7 per sq ft

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Paramount

 

since you are Design/Build... do you use your Design portion to sell the Build portion ?

 

I price my design work to compensate myself for my time... but my real goal is to get the Build contract

 

I use flat rate.... a bath might be $500

 

and addition might be $2000

 

a new home might be $5000 - $10000

 

I am the only one who can build from my plans.... so almost 100% of our design work become Build Contracts

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A square footage price and or an hourly rate would vary greatly from area to area. There is no rule of thumb you could possibly follow nation wide.

Forget nationwide,  even job to job and person to person can vary astronomically.

 

A proficient designer working for a super easy client might be able to model a 10,000 square foot box of a house inside a day.  Same proficient designer could pretty easily take a month or 2 modelling a 10,000 square foot castle for a very difficult client.

 

On the flipside of that, a less experienced and less than proficient designer could take a couple weeks or more modelling the 10,000 square foot box of as house and end up ruining a perfectly good client. 

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That's nuts! So if I can make $150/hr with CA that's ~ 300,000/yr....Is that the average salary of a designer? That is higher than a degree engineer. Lew like your system, thanks! 

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That's nuts! So if I can make $150/hr with CA that's ~ 300,000/yr....Is that the average salary of a designer?

 

Umm...no. Not even close. The problem with that theory is that, if you are charging $150/hr in Kansas, there will always be 10 designers willing to charge $75/hr, which means you are out of business quick! 

 

I'm in Indiana, which I think is probably similar to your general area. I charge $80/hr here if I'm doing hourly drafting/light design work for builders/developers. I prefer square foot pricing, and again, it depends on what I am doing. Full service design and spec will be a higher rate that if a builder brings me his sketch and needs a set of "builder plans", which in this area is simply a few pages.

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