What is the difference between a Building Designer and an Architect?
There's a lot of confusion out there between draftsmen, building designers and architects. There are distinct differences but also some very grey areas as to the level of competency to do particular jobs which varies greatly even within each category. By now most people are familiar with the term Building Designer, but don't really know what it is.
1/. What’s a Building Designer ?
Building designers are licensed professionals that are sometimes capable of doing a similar job to Architects but they usually started life doing a drafting course or a Diploma of Building Design. One thing they might have over architects is that they spent a lot of their lives doing details and understanding how buildings get built from a practical point of view. They often started their career working for building companies or architects sorting out how the design will get built and working out the sizes of the structural members, then making sure the documentation is clear and easy to read.
Building designers in Queensland must hold a current License with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and are usually, but not always, members of the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ). GCBD are Licensed with the QBCC 1285996 and Members of BDAQ 63355.
All the below statements are generalisations of course and any combination is possible.
Some of the main advantages of building designers are:
1/. They are often practical in their understanding of construction and are often more likely to get a home designed close to budget.
2/. There is often less likelihood of out of control construction details that can't be built.
3/. They are usually fairly competitively priced. Often pricing themselves at the half way mark between draftsmen and architects.
The disadvantages are:
1/. They are usually not formally trained in design so are quite often not good designers. They are often self taught in design or gain experience from whom they work with. This doesn't mean you have to go to an architect to get a good design done, there are building designers doing great designs but you need to search, study their websites to make sure their standards are universally high, read the testimonials and possibly get referrals.
2/. No added value to the resale of the house due to not being "Architect designed". The term Architect is highly guarded by the Board of Architects and you can't advertise your house as "Architect Designed" if it hasn't been designed by a Registered Architect. In fact you can't call yourself an Architect if you are not a registered Architect even if you have qualified as an Architect at University - you have to be registered.
3/. No prestige benefit to owners while living in the house. i.e you can't really say "my house is designed by an Architect".
4/. Unless you get hold of a really good building designer your building designer might design something that's just not very good!
The main advantages of Architects are:
1/. They are formally trained in design at a University for 6 years so you can count on them being good at design (most of the time). Same applies with the above No.2. Just because they went to uni and came out at the other end doesn't mean they are any good. You need to search far and wide and get referrals and read testimonials etc.
2/. There is a perceived re-sale value when selling an Architect designed home.
3/. There is a level of prestige when living in an Architect designed home.
The disadvantages are:
1/. They are usually expensive, often double or triple that of the average building designer. The fee will often be around 10% compared to 3.5 to 6.
You do get what you pay for though (usually) ! And just coz your paying 10% doesn't mean your going to get a better house than if you pay 5% it all depends on the designer you choose and their capabilities and experience. Once again search the websites - if they don't have a web site that says a lot about them. If they aren't using 3D CAD it says a lot too...
2/. Many think that they are GOD and therefore make you wait forever, don't listen to you, and design the house for themselves not YOU the owners.
3/. Some architects don't care about the practicalities of building construction leaving it to the draftsman to sort out and ending up with trouble on site.
4/. Many will design for their own glory ending up in budget blowouts and builder feuds on site.
So if you want a really cool looking house that's well designed, thermally efficient, cost controlled and an enjoyable process then it makes sense to have the best of both worlds.
At Gold Coast Building Designers we combine both of those worlds and provide an exceptional service, we answer emails and phones, we listen and we care. Our designs rival that of any building designers in Australia and our Documentation is clear, easy to understand and we utilise 3D to make it easier for those who have trouble understanding plans.