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How is a Building designer different to an Architect or Drafts Person?

13 May, 2020 | Mikala Chapman

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What does a building designer do and how are they different from an Architect of Draftsperson?

When designing a residential home both an architect, draftsperson and a building designer can all perform the same role, although some might say with varying degrees of detail and skill. But as with any profession there are some people who are brilliant at what they do and some that simply are not.

When building or renovating you will need to work with a myriad of consultants such as certifiers, engineers & interior designers, but there are three professionals that are typically engaged to draw and design a home; Architects, Building Designers and Drafts people.

Most people have heard of an Architect or a Draftsperson, but Building Designer tends not to be a term we hear often. So, what does a Building designer do and how are they different from an Architect or Draftsperson?

Let’s take a look at their education;

To use the title of Architect you must be “board registered”, which means;

You must have completed your university degree, completed on the job experience (min 2yrs) followed by a written exam and interview. Once qualified, a yearly re-registration is required where you need to be declared as fit to practice and continue a required number of hours of learning.

A draftsperson is not necessarily formally trained although many study this role at Tafe to learn the skills required to draw and document buildings.

Finally, a Building Designer. Sometimes a Building Designer is a draftsperson who has gone through the licensing process. In Australia it depends on the state you are in whether a building designer has to be formally licenced. The licence held will impact the scale of development that a building designer can work on, be it residential homes, apartment blocks or public buildings such as libraries. There are specific Tafe courses and a QLD based university degree that can qualify you to be a building designer. 

So what difference is there between what Drafts people, Building Designers & Architects actually do?

Drafts people and Building designers are largely taught how to draw and understand the construction of a building. Naturally as part of drawing they are often designing, and if they have undertaken formal studies at Tafe, then they usually have some design study as part of this education. 

Building designers and drafts people are generally specialists in the documentation and delivery. Often, they will work along side an architect, preparing the drawings for the detailed design work being done by the architect.

Many drafts people and building designers may be very talented in design, but they will not have been formally taught design to the same level as an architect, it’s just not possible in the type and length of study that they do.

An architect is really a specialist in design and creativity. Their main area of skill and expertise is to create and maximise design opportunities for your home, based on your brief, your vision, your site and your budget. An Architect can not only draw but they can deliver your building too; by being your representation onsite as well as your contract administrator.

I guess it comes back to the fact that any of these three professions can design your home, and as previously mentioned like any profession some people are brilliant at their job and some are not. When deciding who will design your home, whatever your choice, make sure your primary focus is on the design.

Undertaking a build will likely be one of the most costly and large undertakings of your life. It is paramount you engage the right person to make the most of what you’ve got, to take whatever budget you have big or small to create a space that functions and feels exactly the way you want it too when you walk through the front door.  

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