What’s the difference between an Architect and a Building Designer?

This is a question we get asked quite frequently and you’d be forgiven for not knowing what either profession do on a day-to-day basis. Traditionally, architects were employed to design buildings and worked alongside a drafts person – also known as a building designer. In modern times the fact is that both are employed to design buildings and sometimes – depending on the project – can still work alongside each other.

If you compare Australia’s best building designer to a newly examined architect, the differences in skills and knowledge might be very small. In this case, the only real difference is that main one – in Australia an architect must be registered with a State-based architecture board.

Below we have listed other differences that might exist, depending on the level of training of the building designer.

They are (sometimes) specialised in different areas

An architect is trained in a wide range of areas, from history to maths, while a building designer has mainly focused on design and drafting, material and finishes, and history in housing and construction.

In the case of LMD Design & Drafting, head designer Luke Drakes has a background in building and project administration, meaning his knowledge of building and construction may be more extensive than that of the average architect.

They have different educations

People who study architecture at university will study for a minimum of 5 years. After this, they will need 2 years’ practical work experience before they can apply to become a registered architect. An architect will study maths, history, design, technology and more.

In Australia a building designer has often studied a Diploma of Building Design or a Certificate IV in Residential Drafting, but a person seeking registration in the category of Draftsperson, class of Building Design (Architectural) must complete an Advanced Diploma of Building Design & Project Administration and have at least 1 year’s practical experience.

More info can be found on the BDAV (Building Designers Association of Victoria). There is also stated that an Architectural Building Designer can carry out a broad range of roles in the design process, including pre-design services, site analysis, schematic design, design development and some are involved in contract administration.

The amount they charge can change significantly

Architects are almost always significantly more expensive to employ than a draftsperson.

To clients this is not an irrelevant difference and many feel that they rather pay less for a draftsperson and spend their money on materials or other aspects of the construction process instead.

So who should I choose?

This really depends on three factors: your budget, the size of your project and - most importantly -finding a professional that you feel comfortable working with, whether it is an architect or a building designer. The process will always run more smoothly when a good working relationship is established.

At LMD Design, our approach to each project is that the process has to be 1/3 design, 1/3 budget and 1/3 constructions based. These 3 principles are made evident to our clients as we work together to deliver a respective solution.

In the end, an open and honest relationship between you and the professional hired to help you realise your building project dreams is the most important factor for a successful end result.