Architect VS Building Designer – Which one do you really need?

Learn the differences between an architect and a building designer, and determine which one do you need for your next renovation project.

If you’re looking for a design consultant for your home renovation project, you can hire an architect or a building designer. An architect or a building designer can help you ensure that the design of your home will pass the strict requirements of your local council and its building codes. In most Australian states, you need a Registered Building Designer to ensure that the local council will grant you the final Construction Certificate or Building License. 

Although there are similarities between a Building Designer and an Architect, they also have differences that you should be aware of. Architects can be more expensive compared to Building Designers, however they may also be more experienced, qualified and capable of delivering highly detailed designs. Often a Building designer can provide you with the required building design services for most types of projects. 

What is an architect?

There are some standard requirements for someone to become a professional architect, including:

  • Formal schooling from an accredited university with an architecture degree.  
  • Have proper liability insurance as a requirement for registration.
  • Official registration with the governing body of an area.

An architect has to be  registered with the area’s architecture body. It is illegal to call oneself an architect if not registered regardless if the said individual has multiple degrees and years of experience in architecture. They must call themselves a building designer instead.

An architect needs to have extensive knowledge of Building Design. Architects normally spend a minimum of 5 years at a university studying technical design and other crucial subjects related to architecture. After graduation, an aspiring architect should spend two years as an apprentice to a registered architect before they are eligible to register as an architect themselves.

Architects and building designers can use their creativity in coming up with designs although they still need to factor in their clients’ ideas. Both can sometimes become a part of the whole project by acting as contract administrators.

What is a building designer?

The roles of building designers may be similar to those of architects. Building designers can design beautiful, practical, energy-efficient buildings.

Building designers may come from different design-related backgrounds. Some building designers have degrees and a practical understanding of architecture although they are not officially registered architects. There are also building designers who have formal schooling in a number of design-related areas.

Required qualifications for building designers

Some Australian building designers do not need to have a license and are not legally required to register as building designers. 

Here are some areas you need to keep in mind:

  • WA
  • SA
  • NT
  • Australian Capital Territory

When planning to build a project in any of the areas mentioned above, you need to carefully choose the professional who will design your building for you.

Dreamspace can help you ensure that you are hiring building designers compliant with the local laws governing building and planning. This is part of our objective of keeping our customers protected.

Residents of Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and NSW have better coverage.

The Victorian Building Act of 1983 requires building designers in Victoria to register with the Building Practitioners Board as professional Draftsperson.

Queensland requires building designers to possess an updated License in Building Design. 

Tasmania requires building designers to have accreditation when working on projects that exceed $5,000.  

Since August 2021, NSW now requires building designers to register too. Building designers working in New South Wales need to have formal qualifications in order to register.

For those who want to qualify for accreditation or license, a building designer needs to possess certain skills and educational qualifications. A prospective building designer also needs to have the required insurance coverage to register.

When hiring building designers, it is best to hire designers belonging to professional associations such as the Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA) or the Building Designers’ Association of Queensland (BDAQ). One advantage of hiring professionals belonging to these organizations is they are more likely to receive continuing professional development (CPD) as a member of the group. Continuing Professional Development means that the building designer receives frequent updates about the latest innovations in building designs. It is also likely that they are aware of any recent changes to the planning laws in the area where they provide their professional services.

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