Building Designers and Architects- What’s the Difference

Building Designers and Architects: What’s the Difference?

There is sometimes confusion over the differences between an architect and a building designer. While there are some similarities in the areas they specialize in, there are stark differences in the work each does. If you need residential building design or commercial building design, you’ll probably seek the services of one or both for your project.

Job duties and education

An architect is trained in design theory and engineering, and has the qualifications to serve as a project manager who oversees the project. When it comes to residential building design or commercial building design, the architect can either just be responsible for the concept and design or he can oversee the project. Architects who will take on the responsibilities of project management charge an additional fee for this separate service.

A building designer serves in a less technical capacity than an architect. While they usually aren’t training in the engineering components of building design, their skills are mainly creative, and they are skilled in planning out interiors and the design of building additions that done after the building has been completed.

Although building designers usually aren’t trained in engineering, they partner with structural engineers who make sure the mechanics of the design are safe and meet building standards. The contribution of most designers is creative, and they don’t oversee building projects. You'll often find these professionals handling residential remodeling and addition projects.

The project types and professionals

Whether you go with an architect or building designer will depend on the type of project you have in mind and the type of tasks you need to be performed. Typically, the more complex and larger projects are done by architects. However, this will also vary according to the state the building is constructed.

The reason more complex projects often go to architects is because these projects must be coordinated with several professionals who are usually coordinated and managed as a team by the architect. Building designers work alongside building contractors and traditionally don’t serve in a management capacity. In some states, an architect license is required to work on the design of buildings, but in others, it isn’t.

In countries like Australia, there is less restriction in building design. Depending on the state, there are different licensing requirements. If you have a building project in mind and aren’t sure whether you need an architect or a building designer, it’s advisable to check out the requirements in your locale.

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