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Costs of CAD Services | Oursourcing Price | CAD FM
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CAD Services Costs/Price

How much do CAD services cost?


CAD Services Cost represented by many currencies

This is one of the first questions new CAD FM clients ask us. And with good reason: while CAD outsourcing will save you a significant amount compared to hiring a full-time designer, CAD services costs will still make up an important part of your project’s budget.

We’ve put together this article to give you an idea of the cost/price of CAD services, and the various other things you’ll need to think about when considering CAD outsourcing.

We’ll look at how projects are charged, and give an overview of average CAD project costs in different parts of the world, before winding up with a few tips to help you choose the best partner for your needs.


Fixed rate or hourly rate: which is best?

CAD service costs can be calculated either as a fixed rate or per hour. The best solution will depend on your project needs.


Fixed rate

A fixed rate is ideal if your project has a clear scope, a stable set of requirements, and an established project management system. Usually, you’ll anticipate few to zero changes to your final deliverable.

A fixed rate can be based on the services you need, or on the expected value of your product in production. Either way, a fixed rate means you can determine the cost of your project upfront, and rest assured that there will generally be no hidden surprises.


Hourly rate

Hourly rates are more common if you’re working with a sole trader or freelancer. Payment per hour is more practical than a fixed rate if your development is more agile, and you anticipate multiple revisions or changes to your project before delivery.

If you’re paying per hour, it’s advisable to talk with your provider to break the project down into intermediate milestones, so you can make sure that the project stays mostly on track and within budget while it’s running.


costs by location

The cost of CAD services varies significantly according to whether you are working with a freelancer or an outsourcing company. Company rates for CAD work in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia start at around $100 per hour, whereas similar rates for India are around £20. While this is considerably more expensive than freelance work, indeed, you generally get what you pay for. We’ll look at the added value of working with a company later on in this article.

The table below summarises average hourly rates for different types of freelance service, based on major service locations. Later on, we’ll give a breakdown of some more detailed rates for different services.

These rates are a broad average. Bear in mind that the cost of a project can vary significantly according to your final needs, required turnaround time, and the amount of work involved.


Table: Freelancer price per hour per location (2020) – We recommend to choose a company for the reasons mentioned at the end.

Page Title

TABLE: CAD Services Cost Per Hour

The Cost is for an average Freelancer/Soletrader NOT Company

Engineering Domain

Developed Countries (UK, USA, Australia etc)

Developing Countries (India & Pakistan etc)

CAD Service

Architectural Drafting



2D Architectural Drafting,

2D CAD Drafting for Engineering,

3D Architectural Rendering

3D Architectural Modelling



Architectural Drawings


3D Mechanical Modelling



Mechanical Engineering

Building Information Modelling (BIM)



2D Architectural Drafting,

2D CAD Drafting for Engineering,

3D Architectural Rendering

3D Rendering






Electrical Instrumentation



Electrical Engineering

Structural Engineering Services



Structural Engineering

Structural Drafting



Structural Steel Detailing



Piping Design & Drafting Services (PDDS)



Piping Engineering

Architectural engineering

Architectural engineering services include architectural drawings, 2D drafting, 3D modelling, presentation drawings and millwork, and building information (BIM) drawings.

In the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, you can expect to pay on average $13 per hour for architectural drafting, $14 for architectural drawings, and $15 for 3D architectural or mechanical modelling services.

In India, you can expect to pay around $6 per hour for 2D mechanical drafting, while mechanical 3D modelling costs around $8 per hour. 2D drafting services for architectural, structural, and civil projects cost around $12 per hour.

Regardless of location, the final rate will vary according to service complexity. 3D modelling based on 2D sketches is more straightforward, and therefore cheaper. Hand-drawn sketches are more sophisticated and will cost more.

3D rendering

3D rendering services across the US, UK, Canada, and Australia cost on average $22 per hour, compared to $15 per hour in India. This rate scales depending on factors such as the complexity of the project, final requirements, and the source of materials.

CAD conversion services

CAD conversion services in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, are based on the original sheet size. For example, the average cost is $40 per sheet for A size, $50 for B size, $75 for C size, $100 for D size, and $150 for E size.

CAD conversion services in India start at $7 per hour, and are calculated according to the type of conversion, amount of work, and the depth of the project.

Electrical engineering services

In the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, the average cost for electrical instrumentation services is $31 per hour, compared to $9 in India. Also, in India, PCB design & layout costs around $12 per hour, while electrical design & layout is $9.

Structural engineering services

Across the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, the average cost per hour for structural engineering services is $30, compared to $18 in India. Structural drafting is more expensive, costing around $20 per hour in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, and $14 in India.

Structural steel detailing varies from around $20 per hour in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, to $18 in India.


Animation services can be priced by hourly rate of work, or according to the length of the final production, or as a lump sum based on the project.

In India, an animation project of fewer than two minutes has an average price of $45 per second, while an animation project in full HD may cost as much as $90 per second.

In the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, 2D animation and Flash animation services start at $20 per second, 3D animation services start at $25 per second, and storyboarding costs around $20 per hour. However, the cost of storyboarding is bound to vary significantly based on factors such as the volume and quality of work needed, and the input you provide.

CAD service outsourcing: things to consider

The information above should have given you a rough idea of the kind of rate you can expect for CAD work locally and internationally. Bear in mind, though, that the best outsourcer for you may not always be the cheapest option. When it comes to value, you should be aware of the pitfalls of working with a cheaper freelancer compared to an established company, and consider the possible advantages of working locally.

Freelance services vs. outsourcing companies

A major decision when outsourcing a CAD project is whether to work with a freelancer or an outsourcing company. As we’ve already shown, freelance rates are significantly cheaper than company rates, so from a purely financial point of view a freelance solution may make better sense. However, other things you need to consider here are as follows:

1. How fast do you want to get things started?

One of the main benefits of going the freelance route is that the hiring and ordering process will be much faster, so a freelance solution can be best for small adjustments or revisions that you need within a short timeframe. Starting a CAD project with a company can feel slower, as standard procedures will need to be followed, but you’ll have reliable documentation of your agreements and expectations to ensure the quality of your work.

2. What kind of communication will you need?

With a freelance solution, you can talk directly with the person working on your project. However, they may be working on an irregular schedule, or sometimes be simply unreachable. A company will usually offer more stable communication within working hours, and may be more helpful if you have questions or concerns.

3. What are your quality considerations?

Freelance CAD work can be of variable quality, and sometimes very poor. An established company will offer a more consistent standard of work, which will help in particular if you are running multiple or repeated projects.

4. How many revisions do you expect?

Negotiating extra revisions with a freelancer can be difficult, as they’ll usually be anxious to just get your work done and move on to their next project. A company will usually be more available to accommodate extra revisions and keep your work consistent.

Finally, the biggest advantage of working on a contract with an outsourcing company is obviously your peace of mind. If your CAD project is large or has significant value, you’ll usually be better off with the security of a company, compared to working with a freelancer who may simply disappear before your work is done.

Local vs. international

A second key consideration when choosing your outsourcer will be whether to hire in your own country or take advantage of cheaper rates elsewhere around the world. The following questions will help you decide which solution is right for you.

1. How fast is your required turnaround?

A fast turnaround requirement will push up rates wherever you decide to work. If you’re running against a deadline, consider how time zone differences will affect the project, and whether a higher local rate may be worth it to get things done on time.

2. How much communication will you need?

Time zone and language differences can significantly affect the speed and quality of communication during a project. If you’re running an agile development project, consider how last-minute changes will be communicated effectively across borders. You’ll need to outline communication channels and expectations clearly at the start, to avoid problems later on.

3. Which specialised services or software do you need?

There are a myriad of CAD service companies who offer services in different niches. It will pay at the start to do some research and single out which companies focus on your particular needs. If it turns out that a local provider appears to have the best fit in terms of expertise, consider how that could save you money in the long run compared to a superficially cheaper, international solution.

4. How valuable or important is your project?

It’s always possible that problems will arise. In the event of unsatisfactory work, it’s usually easier to deal with a local service provider instead of battling with complaint procedures in a foreign country.

At CAD FM we pride ourselves on giving transparent pricing information before your project starts, and maintaining regular communication throughout your project to make sure it meets your exact needs. Contact us today to find out more about our CAD service prices and what we can do for you.

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