Building Designer VS Architect


“So what actually IS the difference between a Building Designer and an Architect?” This is a question I hear a lot, and rightly so. Ask anyone on any given day and you can receive a different answer. Let’s shed light on some on some of the differences, pros and cons of both.

Prices and services within the architecture/building design industries vary widely, based on the level of experience, service and quality of work provided by your designer. Which can make it hard to figure out where your money is best spent while navigating the inherent biases of the professional your talking too!

A Building Designer and an Architect are capable of providing the same scope of works. In Queensland in particular, the differences between the two can be minimal, as both a Building Designer and an Architect are required to be registered with the relevant governing body to operate professionally. All Building Designers require the relevant Qualifications, Experience and Insurances to practice in Queensland. However this is not the case in all State’s and this is where the difference can become significant. Make sure to ask these questions of any professional you’re talking to.

Architects are required to have a higher level of Education in Australia, but both must be qualified and registered in Queensland before they are able to practice.

It goes without saying, professional’s vary greatly in their level of service, experience, design and quality of drawings. This goes for both, so you should always be looking at what your goals are and what you will be getting for your money. In most cases an Architect will charge higher fees for their design and drawings, but this may not always be required for your particular project and it will certainly not guarantee a superior level of service or design. 

This can also be said for a Building Designer, as the level of experience and quality of work will be different for each professional you speak with. “Good Design” is a relatively subjective term, and can be hard to pin down. Therefore a conversation with a potential architect or building designer should centre around your goals, and how they may address your needs. Beginning with low risk services like a concept layout, or design consultation can give a taste of what’s to come, and help you better decide which professional is best for you and your project.

When trying to make a decision for your project, you should consider not only the portfolio and level of experience in similar work but also the trust factor. Can this person demonstrate the expertise and value that you need for your project? And are they someone you see yourself working well with as you move through the process of your design project. These are the intangibles that you don’t see in a typical fee proposal, but can quickly become a factor once you begin.

You should always work with a registered professional, this protects you, the client, in the unfortunate and hopefully rare cases where something goes wrong. Outside of that, carefully consider your goals, ask questions, and find the right person for the job, regardless of professional title. Once all is said and done, you’ll be glad you did. Best of Luck!