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Architect or Building Designer – What is the Difference?


Whether you are building a new home or undertaking major renovations to your existing home you will most likely need to engage the services of an architect or building designer – but you could be forgiven for not knowing the difference between the two.

In Australia, both architects and building designers (once more commonly known as ‘draftsmen’) design buildings. However, the two are not one and the same.

Urban Living Solutions can help design your homeWhat is an Architect?

In Australia an architect must

  • Have a degree or formal tertiary training in architecture (which is usually at least five years)
  • Obtain all the necessary insurances for a registered architect
  • Be officially registered with a state-based architecture board.

Being registered with the relevant state architecture board is what essentially defines an architect for legal purposes. Even if they have all the appropriate training if their registration lapses they cannot legally advertise their services as an ‘architect’.

What is a Building Designer?

Building designers don’t have to adhere to the same laws as architects. Registration and licensing requirements differ from state to state for building designers. It is a good idea to check whether a building designer is a member of a professional association such as the Building Designers Australia (BDA) or the Housing Industry Association (HIA). Such building designers are more likely to undertake continuing professional development and keep up to date with the latest local planning laws and issues.

Don’t be put off hiring a building designer simply because you believe an architect has more qualifications. Many building designers have decades of experience and can design you an amazing home.

Plans for a new homeSo, Who is Better? An Architect or Building Designer?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer between choosing an architect or building designer. Each should be judged on their individual merits and experience. Whichever you choose, remember you’ll be working closely with them for quite some time, so make sure you get along with them.

Check their credentials, including qualifications, experience, testimonials and accomplishments. It is important that they are as enthusiastic about your project as you are! And don’t assume that all architects are more expensive than all building designers. Rates can vary widely depending on experience.

For more information about the design process of building a home see the Australian Government’s YourHome generic step-by-step guide.

To find a local architect or building designer in Newcastle or the Hunter Region have a look at Build Local’s listings.

By Kelli Hawkins

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October 6, 2014 |

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