Building Designers vs Architects
When you're planning to renovate or build a new home do you call an architect or draftsman or building designer? What’s the difference?

Architect designed buildings generally cost more per square metre to build due to the way an architect is trained to think. Building designers are often more in line with orthodox budgets, while draftsmen are generally not trained in designs that require sophisticated solutions, although some may have developed these skills on the job, so to speak.

What are the required qualifications for building designers?

In many parts of Australia, anyone can operate as a building designer with no qualifications or credentials whatsoever. There are no registration or licensing requirements for building designers in the following states and territories:

Western Australia
New South Wales
South Australia
Northern Territory, and
ACT

While anyone can operate as a building designer in these places, it’s crucial to remember that ultimately their work needs to fully comply with building and planning regulations.

The best way to choose either an architect or building designer is to have a face to face meeting, ask important questions and get a feel how they work and what they charge. It is also a good idea to speak with past clients if this is possible.

For an architect to legally use the title 'Architect' in Australia, they must be “board registered".

This means they’ve:
  • completed a recognised university degree (usually 5 – 6 years of study)
  • completed a required level of on-job experience (minimum 2 years)
  • then sat a written exam and passed
  • followed by an interview exam and passed
  • and then annually (as part of re-registration) declare that they are fit to practice, and are continuing their professional development with a required number of hours of study and learning.

What are the required qualifications to be a draftsperson?

Many in this role study at TAFE to learn the skills required to draw (CAD) and document buildings. For example, to obtain a Certificate IV in Residential Building Drafting requires one year of full-time study.

The ultimate choice of a particular architect, building designer or even draftsman should come down to design skills, not how much you are paying them. The design of a building is so crucial to the long-term enjoyment of the spaces, that a sense of confidence in your chosen professional is crucial. By interviewing each candidate thoroughly, including research into their past performances, will almost certainly guide you to make the right choice.

What about Matt Wallwork?

There are many building designers like myself, who have a university degree in Architecture, but have chosen not to become registered as architects. The reasons for this are the additional ongoing costs, and the relevance of registration with regard to the signing-off of contract administration documents, a task that building designers are seldom, if ever, required to do. For these reasons, our fees are generally lower than those of registered architects.