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Find a local architect

    Building designer vs architect

    What’s the difference between the two?

    Alex | Oneflare

    The first step in any new home construction or redesign is finding a professional designer who will help make your dreams a reality. This is not something for the amateurs; you need to go pro if you want to get the most practical, beautiful home out there for you and your family. That means you’ll need to either employ a building designer or an architect. However, this process can be tricky – and it’s not one you can afford to mess up. We’ve put together a guide here that will help you choose which type of designer is best and how to find the right one. 


    Architects and building designers are both qualified to design buildings, but there are some legal differences between the two. An architect is required to have the following:

    • Successful completion of required university courses specific to the architectural field
    • Acceptance and up-to-date membership (with all current fees paid) in the state board of architecture
    • Necessary insurance licenses and registration/certification documents

    Building designers aren’t required to have any of these things, but they do need to be licensed from an appropriate state building board, such as a Building Services Authority, and they have to be fully insured with the requisite policies. These legal requirements are nationwide and were implemented for the protection of consumers.

    Although it’s not required, a large number of building designers also join distinguished professional organizations, such as the Building Designers Association or the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. In order to join, designers have to prove their competency, and membership is an added cachet that can help inspire consumer confidence.

    A render of a modern, two-storey home
    Architects and building designers can create detailed renders of your building plans / Source: Artin Design

    Who is more competent?

    Builders and architects should be judged by their individual competencies and merits. As with architects, many building designers have established a stellar reputation through years of accomplishment and enthusiastic client referrals. Likewise, some building designers or architects may be more comfortable designing commercial buildings rather than residential homes. Otherwise, you should consider the two designations as being completely equal and go from there.

    Finding the right building designer or architect

    When contacting a building professional, you’ll first want to get their references and credentials. Your builder should be fully insured and licensed to work in the state where your building site is. Look for membership in reputable professional organizations; these are always a plus. Check referrals and ask for photos of similar jobs. If the building designer or architect is new in the profession, ask for copies of preliminary studies and design drawings.

    After establishing credentials, discuss your design specifications to determine if this particular professional can accomplish the results you’re looking for.

    Contact local building designers

    The price of a designer

    Odds are that you’ll never find two building designers with the same type of fee structures – they’re usually very dissimilar. They might offer a fixed or an hourly fee, first off, and the cost will be dependent on the varying levels of service they offer. Basic services might only include a consultation, site visit and design and would only include the most bare-bones drawings. More advanced services generally include consultant use and the design of the landscape and interior, along with the electrical layout. Eventually, you’ll likely be charged a percentage of the total price of the project. A rough estimate might come out to 7.5% of the total for full service or around 5% of the total for basic service. Don’t forget to get an upfront look at the fees before you sign any contract.

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