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Below we explain the main points of difference with using an architect or a building designer. For the purpose of this article, we will categorise a draftsperson under the same category as a building designer.

Let’s break it down.

To understand the main points of difference with an architect or building designer, firstly, we need to understand and consider what fields these respective professionals have studied and trained in.

Architects typically undertake 5 years of university study and graduate with a Masters Degree, from which they must complete two years of professional experience, pass the Architectural Practice Exam before being accepted into a state or territory registration board such as The Board of Architects of Queensland and the Australian Institute of Architects.

A student of Architecture is primarily engaged in study relating to design principals- such as, history of design, and how this relates directly into the experience of the built environment. Architects learn how to overcome common and complex building restraints and problems, and learn how to extract the most value out of a building.

In short- architects are highly-skilled at problem-solving. They graduate as design experts that add value to your project, usually in ways you didn’t think was possible. This might be through maximising the floor plan, solving complex site issues, ventilation, natural light, capturing vistas, functionality, material palette, and countless other considered “moments” within a building.

Building Designers have typically completed a certificate IV or V in Building Design through a licensed training provider such as TAFE and must be licensed by a Building Services Authority. Building Designers are skilled in drawing building plans, estimating build and labour costs, and ensuring a building meets the relevant building codes.

Depending on the formal operating licence of a building designer, they may only be licenced to develop drawings for specific building codes, such as detached residential, and not a hospital. In Queensland, the standards of who is licensed to design our suburban homes extends to anyone who holds an A Class building licence- or, the lowest building licence available. It may seem obvious to you now, that the majority of cookie-cutter housing developments do not utilise the skills of an architect.

Price point – The typical costs associated with using an architect, usually sits anywhere between 20 to 30% of the overall project cost. Building designers may charge anywhere between 10-20k for their design. However, if we are to focus on cost alone, although the financial contribution of using an architect may be a little higher at the outset, an architect may solve costs associated with the construction through clever design interventions. Not only that, considering the high resale value of architecturally designed homes compared to the alternatives, you’re more likely to be making a sound investment by employing an architect for your next project.

Costs aside, if we are to focus purely on the product delivered from an architect vs a building designer/draftsperson, we can firmly state that an architecturally designed building will not only deliver on the aesthetic value, but it will enhance the quality of life for the inhabitants of the building, in a way that only considered architectural design can.


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