What Should You Charge for an Architectural Rendering?

It's no secret that many architectural visualizers find themselves completely at a loss when trying to find clients and complete assignments on a recurring basis. No doubt you've lived this situation: after a brief negotiation, you finally give in and reluctantly get to work. You know your work is worth more than what you're charging for it, but you don't know how to avoid low rates. 

If you've never been sure about how much to charge for a render or a 3D model, we've designed a "short method" for determining your fees. With this, you will learn three strategies to price a 3D rendering or whichever other services you provide. To start, the root of the problem isn't your price, it's the lack of strategy in generating potential clients. Once you fix this issue, you will be able to charge standard prices that are in sync with the market and will allow you to work with dignity. 

How Much for a 3D Rendering?

There are various pricing models to use to charge for your services — by the hour, by project, by commission, by objectives, by predetermined values — and every one of them has its pros and cons, but keep in mind that the problem you're focusing on is price. However, what we should focus on is getting clients. 

"The Short Method" is based on an hourly rate: if you're new to the game and want to work freelance in architecture, this is the norm. But why?

Frankly, clients understand it. A client would be amazed if you were to give them a complete estimate for a large project of 20 renderings. This can be intimidating for clients and many don't like to make such big agreements. The majority of clients feel much more comfortable with an hourly rate.

Simplify things: using other price models requires experience to be done correctly. Otherwise, you could run into problems down the road and get caught up in a project that will lose you time and money; however, with an hourly rate, you will eliminate this risk and can start quickly without any issues. 

Reduce risks for the client: remember that your client doesn't know you yet and people are (understandably) risk adverse. With an hourly rate, you reduce risks for the client and, if they aren't satisfied with your work, they can cut ties with you whenever they want, saving themselves, and you, time and money. So, rule number one: don't obsess too much over your price. Many professionals get paranoid trying to set a price for their work. Just remember two things:  

  1. Don't compete with price. There will always be someone cheaper (or more desperate).
  2. You'll be able to change your fees in the future to earn more or to be more in tune with market demand. This is just the starting point. 

Here are three ways to determine your price:

© HTA Design

Option 1: R30 ("Remove 3 Zeros") 

With this method, take the annual salary that you would like and remove the last three zeros: if you want to earn €35,000 per year, the rate will be €35/h. Of course, this rule doesn't work 100% of the time. In fact, if you are still new to your niche, don't expect to earn €150 per hour if you are looking for architecture gigs at €1,000 per month.

Option 2: Double Your 'Angry' Rate 

Your angry rate is the minimum rate that you would accept for the work without feeling angry or resentful for doing so. For sure, knowing this rate is absolutely great because it makes decision-making so much easier. For example, if you think "Ugh, €15/h is the minimum that I'll get out of bed for, any less than that and I'd rather walk my dog," well then, great! €15/h is your angry rate. Double it and charge €30/h as your normal rate.

Option 3: Imitate the Competition

Research how much other visualizers with your level of experience and ability are charging and set the same price or a little more than them. Many freelance architects hate this advice, however, supply and demand apply to everyone. 

When you have more clients than you know what to do with, you'll be able to raise your prices as much as you want.

This method is simple, ask your friends, colleagues, or google how much to charge for a rendering in your country. Try to find the rate that aligns with your abilities. Never charge below this rate, as you'd be putting yourself in a competition for price, which is never a winning strategy. 

The Reality of Rendering Prices

There are two truths: never think about your price for more than 30 minutes. Choose one, and then send it to the market for testing. The other, 99% of the time, is that the problem isn't your price, it's your marketing strategy. In other words:

  • You don't know how to generate potential clients.
  • You don't know how to show the value of your services.
  • You don't know how to sell and close clients.

Download this PDF guide (Spanish) for more information if you are dealing with these issues.

About this author
Cite: Montilla, Carlos. "What Should You Charge for an Architectural Rendering?" [Así deberías cobrar por un rénder de arquitectura] 31 Jul 2018. ArchDaily. (Trans. Johnson, Maggie) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/899128/what-should-you-charge-for-an-architectural-rendering> ISSN 0719-8884

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