How much does it cost to have blueprints for a new home drafted?
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Draftsman Cost Guide
Updated: December 21, 2022
Draftsmen are professionals who have expertise in CAD and manual blueprint design. Homeowners often retain them to develop plans for new homes, additions, and remodeling projects. Homeowners discuss with their draftsman the particulars they want. The draftsman creates plans to scale that can be used by a contractor for building the structure. These blueprints include the placement of plumbing, HVAC, and structural components.
The average drafter cost range for house plans runs between $1,000 and $6,000, with most homeowners paying $2,000 for semi-custom house plans on a simple 2-story, 3-bedroom, 2-bath 2,000 sq.ft. home. This project’s low cost is $350 for stock plans of a 1,000 sq.ft. 2-bedroom single-story home. The high cost is $30,000 for fully custom house plans for a 4-bedroom, 3-bath 3,000 sq.ft. home with complex details and multiple changes.
Drafting Services Cost
|National average cost||$2,000|
Cost to Draft House Plans by Type
Stock or pre-made house plans run between $700 and $1,500, while custom home plans cost between $2,000 and $20,000, with very large and detailed homes costing more. The cost of drafting house plans is more expensive with a custom design, primarily because it requires more time, research, and logistics. Many homeowners find that custom plans are the best option when they have specific home needs or wants. The drawback to this option is the cost and time required for meetings with your draftsman to get everything you want to be worked into a feasible plan to build within your price range.
Home plans with cost-to-build or pre-made home plans are more often included with prefabricated homes or sometimes used when developing homes in a subdivision. These plans can be modified in most cases. Modifying your stock plans is generally less expensive than custom plans, costing roughly $1,000 to $2,000 for semi-custom plans that begin as stock plans. Stock plans offer various styles and room configurations, giving homeowners a range to choose from, but they tend to be limited to basic designs. These can be ideal for the homeowner who is not concerned with the design and simply has a size, style, and room configuration in mind. It can be less stressful for many homeowners to pick from a set number of options. Below are the average costs for plans for a 2,000 sq.ft. home using the three drafting types.
|Type of Plans||Average Cost|
|Stock||$700 - $1,500|
|Modified Stock / Semi-Custom||$1,000 - $2,000|
|Custom||$2,000 - $20,000|
Cost of a Draftsman to Draw House Plans by House Size
Your home size can impact the cost of your plans. Large homes have more details, rooms, and stories, which take more time to draft. A larger home likely has higher costs to build and draw plans for. This is true regardless of how the draftsman bills. Some bill by the square foot, hour, or a percentage of the total cost to build the home. In each case, you will likely find that the larger the home, the higher the costs of your plans. The estimated cost per square foot for stock plans is $0.35 to $0.75, while the cost of modified or semi-custom plans is $0.50 to $1, and the cost of custom plans is $1 to $10 a sq.ft., depending on the level of detail. Below are the average costs for stock, semi-custom, and custom plans based on common new home sizes.
|Size||Stock Plans Cost||Semi-Custom Plans Cost||Custom Plans Cost|
|800 sq.ft.||$280 - $600||$400 - $800||$800 - $8,000|
|900 sq.ft.||$315 - $675||$450 - $900||$900 - $9,000|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$350 - $750||$500 - $1,000||$1,000 - $10,000|
|1,200 sq.ft.||$420 - $900||$600 - $1,200||$1,200 - $12,000|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$525 - $1,125||$750 - $1,500||$1,500 - $15,000|
|1,600 sq.ft.||$560 - $1,200||$800 - $1,600||$1,600 - $16,000|
|1,800 sq.ft.||$630 - $1,350||$900 - $1,800||$1,800 - $18,000|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$700 - $1,500||$1,000 - $2,000||$2,000 - $20,000|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$875 - $1,900||$1,250 - $2,500||$2,500 - $25,000|
|2,700 sq.ft.||$945 - $2,000||$1,350 - $2,700||$2,700 - $27,000|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$1,050 - $2,300||$1,500 - $3,000||$3,000 - $30,000|
|3,500 sq.ft.||$1,300 - $2,700||$1,750 - $3,500||$3,500 - $35,000|
|4,000 sq.ft.||$1,400 - $3,000||$2,000 - $4,000||$4,000 - $40,000|
|5,000 sq.ft.||$1,800 - $3,800||$2,500 - $5,000||$5,000 - $50,000|
Drafting Fees by Billing Method
The draftsman you hire to plan your home may bill for the job using three methods. Most are based on the average time it takes to draft a home, making the final numbers similar in many cases. However, to make it easier for homeowners to understand the costs, you may be charged by the square foot, hour, or percentage of the estimated total cost to build your home. These costs can differ based on several things, including whether the draftsman is working with an architect or design/build firm, how many changes are made to the plans, your home style and detail level, and the project scope. The more details and changes needed, the higher the total costs. Below are the average costs for each billing method your draftsman may use when quoting home plan costs.
|Per Sq.Ft.||$0.35 - $10|
|Per Hour||$50 - $130|
|Percentage of Total Fees||0.75% - 10%|
Drafting Fees per Square Foot
Expect to pay $0.35 to $10 per sq.ft. for drafting fees for your home plan. The cost depends on the project's complexity. Costs run higher when more unique or unusual requests may be challenging for them to work into the plan, such as unique staircases. Custom plans cost more per square foot, as do modifications to stock plans. The more details the home has, the higher the cost to draw per square foot. Some architectural types also cost more regardless of the plan because they are unique or highly detailed, such as a Queen Anne Victorian. Others may be more simple, such as single-story ranches.
Hourly Rate for Drafting Services
Average drafting rates per hour run between $50 and $130. Many draftsmen and design firms typically calculate their other billing methods off of the average cost per hour and the time they expect a home to take to draft. The time it takes to draft plans depends on the size, number of rooms, and layout. Additional time may be necessary if you need to work through specific customizations with your drafter. Expect your plans to take between 14 to more than 150 labor hours to complete, depending on whether the plan is stock with a few changes or fully custom. This means you can have plans drawn in a few days to several weeks from when you provide the draftsman with the information until you receive the final prints. It takes longer if changes are requested along the way.
Drafting Services as a Percentage of Total Build
When billed as a percentage of your total building costs, plans typically cost between 0.75% and 10% of the total cost. Stock plans are not billed this way, but semi-custom and custom designs frequently are. These costs do not include costs for an architect who may help you design the home. These are solely the costs for having the final plans drawn up after the planning is done. Like square foot and hourly costs, these costs are based on the project size and scope. The larger the home and more complex the design, the higher the percentage of the total design costs.
Average Cost of a Draftsman by Level of Expertise
In most cases, you contract with a firm when you have your project drawn. This is likely to be a design/build firm, builder, or architect. The larger the firm, the more people they may have working on the project. Sometimes, small changes and stock plans may be drawn up by trainees and entry-level employees who are gaining experience. In many situations, office draftsmen and firm draftsmen with experience who are certified in different programs draw up your plans. However, you may have a senior draftsman working on your home plan for custom projects. The more experience your draftsman has, the higher the costs they charge per hour. Costs are equal to the level of work being done. A trainee is not likely to be working on a custom home, while senior draftsmen are unlikely to be working on basic and stock designs. Below are the average hourly costs you can expect based on the level of expertise from each draftsman.
|Experience||Cost per Hour|
|Trainee||$30 - $75|
|Office Draftsman||$50 - $100|
|Senior Draftsman||$75 - $150|
Draftsman Cost by Type of Project
There are many different projects that may require drawing up plans. These include new home builds, additions, and remodels of many types and sizes. Costs vary for each project based on the size, scope, and whether you need customization. Remodels may cost more per square foot than basic plans for a new build because your existing home must be measured and taken into consideration. Additions can be slightly more expensive per foot than new builds because the details of the existing home need to match. The addition may also impact the existing home, which must be factored into the design. Below are the average costs for having a draftsman draw up plans for various projects.
|Small Remodel||$1,000 - $2,000|
|New Building||$1,000 - $6,000|
|Addition||$1,200 - $1,500|
|Complete Remodel||$2,000 - $2,500|
Drafting Services Fees for a Small Remodel
The cost of drafting services for a small remodel average $1,000 to $2,000. In any remodel, your plans must be drawn up from scratch based on the dimensions of your current home. This means even a small remodel has higher per square foot costs than most stock or semi-custom plans. Some small remodels do not need plans, particularly when working in limited areas and not adding or rearranging walls, rooms, or plumbing. However, you need to draw up plans if you remove a wall, reroute electrical or plumbing, or rearrange things. These must be custom-made to include your existing structure and the proposed changes.
Draftsman Cost for a New Build
The average cost to have a draftsman make up the plans for a new build is between $1,000 and $6,000. The square footage, configuration, number of stories, and customization impact the cost. New building plans are often higher than addition plans, even if they are the same square footage. These plans must include adding gas lines, structural components, and plumbing. The costs vary by home size, stories, complexity, and project size. The larger the home, the higher the costs. Likewise, the more modifications and changes, the higher the costs.
Home Addition Blueprints
The cost to draw up house plans for an addition is between $1,200 and $1,500 when adding approximately 1,000 sq.ft. Whether the price is on the high or low end depends on the addition. An addition that includes bathrooms or custom closet spaces is on the higher end. Additions with simple living spaces fall on the lower end. Having plans for an addition is just as important as having plans for the original house. Plans provide you with all the particulars that need to be met to finish the job.
Drafting Services Cost for a Complete Remodel
A draftsman’s cost to draw house plans for a complete remodel can be on the higher end of what it is for original house plans, running between $2,000 and $2,500. These plans are more costly because they require extra work to fit the changes in the house’s current structural design. You can save money by not having to move a significant amount of plumbing or gas lines. The draftsman may take extra time to develop a configuration that utilizes what is already in place. As with any house plan, the price goes up as the customization gets more extensive.
CAD Drafting Services Prices
A CAD drafter’s hourly rate ranges between $75 and $135. CAD software has drastically changed the way many draftsmen work. It allows them to create precise drawings more quickly than traditional manual methods. With most drafting services, there is no cost difference between CAD and traditional plan drawings. CAD software can be expensive to purchase and keep updated, but it allows changes to be made more quickly.
The primary difference between the two services is how the information is input. With CAD, the draftsman enters the dimensions of the areas of your home and arranges them on the screen into a layout. Using this software, the draftsman can view the layout two or three-dimensionally, depending on their program, for a better idea of the layout. Once the design is complete, they make a printed copy to use as blueprints. When using traditional methods, your draftsman completes all the work by hand, drawing the entire house layout to scale based on the desired dimensions.
If you want to make changes to a CAD drawing, you may want to make marks on the hard copy to indicate where and what those changes are. The cost to incorporate these changes is roughly $50 to $60 per sheet of changes. However, if you need these changes done quickly, there can be a premium fee attached of $100 to $200 per sheet. These costs rise if you continue to make changes, so speak with your designer before making too many.
Add-On Costs to Your Drafting Project
While the cost for the draftsman to create the plans is the bulk of the planning process, additional costs may need to be considered when determining a budget. These costs may be due to the need to bring in other professionals to ensure the plans are accurate. For example, you may need a land survey to determine property lines, or you may need to perform soil tests before building a foundation. Structural engineers may need to be consulted to determine the best foundation and building method. In some cases, you may wish to have your plans reviewed by a second draftsman or an engineer to ensure everything falls in line with what you want and works for the end goal.
You may want to print your blueprints to have hard copies rather than working solely off of screens. You also need building permits when you build your home. These costs vary based on where you build, local regulations, and the project size and scope. Expect to pay an additional 5% to 15% of the total cost if you need to bring in a construction manager. Below are the average costs for each service.
|Blueprint Printing||$10 - $60|
|Review Services||$200 - $400|
|Land Survey||$400 - $1,000|
|Permits||$450 - $700|
|Structural Engineer||$500 - $2,000|
|Soil Test||$700 - $1,800|
|Construction Manager||5% - 15% additional|
Do You Need Blueprints for Your House?
Having blueprints when building your home is critical to ensure the project is performed correctly and for a price you can afford. In some cases, they are required to get new home financing. Think of them as business proposals. If you are looking for a bank to finance a new business venture, they require you to have a business plan to make sure a solid business is being developed with the money. If you go to the bank and ask for money for a home without knowing the particulars, they will likely turn you down. Your house is the loan collateral, so they want to make sure it has the value it needs to secure the loan. Blueprints give them the information they need to value your home and finish the underwriting process properly.
Blueprints are critical in determining the cost to build a new home. When hiring a contractor, they cannot provide you with an accurate quote for the building project. You need to know these costs to secure the proper funding and compare pricing between contractors. The cost of blueprints for a house is worth the investment to ensure your project stays on budget.
Blueprints are commonly used by companies and builders to communicate their ideas to clients or show their clients how their design has merit. For homeowners, blueprints give them peace of mind that all details have been worked out, ensuring their project goes smoothly with few problems. Finally, some homeowners want to have blueprints drafted of their current home to provide them with a record of their home or to use when remodeling.
Eco-Friendly House Plans
Eco-friendly house plans, also known as “green” blueprints, are for homes designed to be more efficient and eco-conscious. You can find pre-made eco-friendly house plans or have them made from scratch. These plans involve several factors that reduce the home’s environmental impact. When drafting these plans, the focus tends to be on smaller square footage, with all the space being maximized. They focus on energy-efficient features, such as solar panels, energy-efficient windows, or designs that use less energy to heat and cool. Other factors to consider when creating eco-friendly house plans are using recycled or sustainable materials and minimizing construction waste.
Draftsman vs Architect Cost
The primary differences between a drafter and an architect are their education level and how much they are involved in the project. Architects have an additional 2 to 3 years of schooling and participate in internships as part of their education. They are more involved in projects by participating in the design, technical aspects, and oversight. Draftsmen are typically only responsible for the technical aspects. A draftsman takes your ideas for your home, addition, or remodel and turns them into a feasible plan for construction. They are not involved in coming up with design elements, special home features, or ideas for customization. That is the homeowner’s responsibility.
Additionally, unlike an architect, a draftsman’s job is done once you have approved the blueprints. They are not involved in the construction project. An architect oversees the construction of the home until it is completed. In large firms, draftsmen work under architects to help turn their designs into technical drawings. You can work with one of these professionals or both, depending on your project’s scope. Below are the average hourly costs of hiring both professionals.
|Professional||Cost per Hour|
|Draftsman||$50 - $130|
|Architect||$90 - $400|
Additional Considerations and Costs
- DIY. Drafting your own blueprints is not a good idea unless you are an experienced CAD designer, architect, or engineer. Plans for a house are more than drawing pictures of what you want. They require knowledge about how homes are structured and the systems included. If you have a good idea of how you want your home laid out, draw this out and give it to your draftsman as a starting point.
- Rush services. In some cases, you may find that you need your blueprints drafted in a hurry. If you need rush services, your draftsman may add a 15% to 20% rush fee. Rush charges are applied because it likely requires them to work extra hours or push aside other projects to complete yours.
- Civil draftsman. Another type of draftsman, a civil drafter, prepares drawings for construction and engineering projects. These maps typically involve relief and topographic maps. They are responsible for designing blueprints of highways, bridges, buildings, pipelines, and water and sewage systems rather than home plans.
- Commercial plans. Commercial building drafts are more complex than house plans because they require more complicated system plans, such as commercial HVAC and plumbing systems and ventilation systems. When a draftsman creates commercial plans, they often require mechanical engineers’ services to ensure the plans are set up correctly.
- Software costs. For homeowners who want to start by creating their own basic floor plan, software programs cost between $25 and $75, letting you design a single floor layout. These programs are not the same as CAD software and are only used for visualization, not blueprint creation. However, they can be a great starting point for your draftsman to get an idea of your preferences.
- How to get blueprints for my house?
If you weren’t given the original blueprints of your house when you purchased it, a few places can help you find a copy. One place to check is with the realtor. They have resources that may help you find the best places to get started. If you know who originally built the home, you can inquire with that company. Another option is to go to the city or municipality where permits would have been obtained to see if they still have filed copies of the blueprints.
- Why are house plans so expensive?
House plans can take a long time to draw. Even basic plans sometimes must be modified to meet criteria, such as soil or engineering issues that may impact your build. The time and expertise needed to draw these plans are reflected in the costs.
- How long does it take a draftsman to draw plans?
This depends on several things, including how many changes or modifications there are, whether the plans are stock or custom, and how large and complex the house is. Expect anywhere from 2 days to several weeks.
- How do you find someone to draw house plans?
In many cases, the best method is to contact a design/build firm. You work with a designer or builder to get your ideas on paper. From there, the firm draws up the house plans for you to view and finalize.