How to choose between an Architect, Building Designer and Draftperson

How to choose between an Architect, Building Designer and Draftperson

Tips and Advice

So, you’ve got a project that you need completed, but you’re not sure who to get to design it. Well hopefully this article can go some way towards clearing up the confusion for you.

But before I go any further let me just say that it’s possible to find skilled building designers and drafts people, just as it’s possible to find architects who are lacking in design skills. But generally speaking, architects are more highly trained, more qualified and more highly skilled than the other two professions as you’re about to discover.


Education and qualifications

To become an architect someone will have had to complete a university degree (5 to 6 years), plus additional on-the-job training (at least 2 years). There are numerous exams that must also be passed along with on-going professional development which requires additional study. Practicing architects are also required to be registered with the Australian Institute of Architects.

By comparison, a draftsperson may have studied at TAFE or even simply learnt on the how to draw plans on the job.

Likewise, a building designer course can be undertaken at TAFE. In Queensland, building designers need to be registered, but that’s not the case in every state.



What does an architect learn that a building designer doesn’t?

Well, interestingly enough – how to DESIGN buildings.

You see, a major focus of an architectural degree is the design itself. How to design homes, how to overcome problems, the various ways to achieve an outcome in a design sense and how to create that outcome within a budget.

Essentially an architect is a design expert.

It stands to reason that a building designer or drafts person studying a much shorter course at TAFE will not have studied the design of buildings in anywhere near the same depth.

Now add on experience gained working through on-the-job training and it’s obvious that an architect has had a more rigorous training in the field of design among other things.


So how important is design to you?

Whilst designing might seem simple enough and you might feel that your renovation or new home build is straightforward, the reality is that real design skill enhances every project.

And it’s not just aesthetically, although that is a large part of the design skill that an architect such as myself would offer. But it’s also the enhancement in terms of your lifestyle.

A well-designed home, renovation or extension is noticeably better in terms of flow and connection. It works with the way you live and enhances it, rather than limiting it. In practical terms this means different things to different people, which is why basic designs have their limitations and don’t serve you, the end user, very well.

If you’ve ever lived in a home where you feel disconnected, or cramped, or uncomfortable, then that home clearly hasn’t been well designed and hasn’t been designed with you in mind. By engaging a skilled architect not only will you avoid those shortfalls, your home will actually make your life more comfortable and enjoyable. That’s because an architect has studied how do design homes for many years before they even begin practicing.

Compare that to someone who has only formally studied building design for as little as a year.

What skills can one really master in only 12 months?

Remember, when it comes to home design, you are putting your financial and lifestyle investment into the hands of this person. Would you rather invest that money with someone who has had 7-8 years of study and practical training, or someone who completed a 12-month course?


Architects tend to charge more – for a reason

It stands to reason that the most highly qualified, highly skilled and highly experienced professionals command higher fees. You’re paying for expertise.

Surgeons charge more than standard GP’s. Accountants typically have higher fees than bookkeepers and it’s all for good reason. They are the experts and people invest in their knowledge and ability.

When it comes to your home, you are now entrusting perhaps you biggest financial investment to a firm or an individual. It makes sense that investing more will give you a better outcome.

So, whilst it’s possible to get lower quotes, it’s not – in my experience – possible to get lower fees AND get the same outcome. Which begs the question – Is the attempt to save a few dollars really worth the risk to your project?


Contact us today

If you want to invest in an architect who is highly qualified, highly skilled and with a wealth of experience in creating stunning new homes and renovations that improve the lifestyle of their occupants, then contact us today. Yes, you could find someone to create a design for less. But do you really want the biggest investment of your life designed by the cheapest, budget designer you can find?

Contact us today and let us show you how we can create the perfect design outcome for your home.

Dion Seminara Architect


Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.