What is an architect?
An architect spends about five years studying at university before undertaking practical placements and a registration examination before they’re allowed to practice professionally in their field. An architect can combine bespoke design ideas together with the necessary aspects of building design to craft your ideal home.
Architects put together drawings, plans and renderings of your project, but they can also help you set a realistic budget and guide you through council planning processes, getting quotes for materials and labour and managing the consultants that need to be brought on during the production phase of your build or renovation.
Homes built by architects are highly sought-after in the current housing market due to their often unique layouts and integrating of sustainable or energy efficiency means, and superior material selection throughout the house. An architect can also instruct you on how to situate your home and layout the floorplan to maximise all possible views, sunlight, shade and aspect. Your architect can also oversee your entire project from start to finish, along with paperwork and administration. Architects all charge differently for different types of jobs, depending on what aspects of the project you have them managing and for how long. What an architect charges is also a reflection of their experience.
What is a building designer?
Those who were once known as draftsmen are now building designers, a title change that reflects the way their roles have developed and changed over the years. A building designer can come from any number of design-related backgrounds and some may have degrees or experience in architecture, but aren’t officially registered as an architect. In fact, a building designer doesn’t require any sort of qualifications or credentials at all. In WA, NSW, SA, NT and ACT, building designers don’t even have licencing or registration requirements. However, it’s worth noting that work done by any building designer does need to comply with local building and planning regulations, or it won’t be built at all.
A building designer provides similar design and documentation services in residential and commercial construction as an architect. Their work involves sketching building plans, calculating labour and material requirements and costs, examining the codes and requirements for a building site and preparing relevant documentation. Building designers can work for builders, or they can work directly for a consumer.
Who should I choose for my project?
You can get equally show-stopping results from both architects and building designers, and the cost for the services of each are actually very similar. Less expensive and smaller projects are probably more suited to building designers. In general, an architect has more experience, is qualified and is more capable of providing a better level of detailed design when compared to a building designer. Architects are recommended for larger projects and buildings that will be more than three stories tall.
When choosing between an architect or building designer, you need to do research into their past projects and experience and understand their personal design style as these will factor greatly in whether or not the end result of your project is a success. Also take into consideration the size, scale and difficulty of your project. If you’re looking to build something incredibly large, bespoke, with experimental or difficult design features or fittings, it may be best for you to consult an architect. However, if you’re looking for a well-designed, functional and beautiful small to medium project, you should look into a building designer.
You might also like: