Should You Hire an Architect or a Designer?

The best answer is to choose the professional that best fits your needs, your budget and who you feel most comfortable with.  The person’s title does not mean they are any better or worse

What is the Difference?

In the world of residential building, both an Architect & Home Designer can perform the same role.  They both can be experts in maximizing design opportunities for your home, your site and your budget. They both can be specialists in documentation and delivery.  The main difference is licensing and project type.  Architects are required to have an Architectural degree, and be nationally tested.  Many Designer do have Architectural degrees, but have simply chosen not to sit for the testing.  Typically, Architects are required for large commercial projects, or buildings over 10,000 sf.

What is a Home Designer?

A Home Designer (building designer) is typically doing the exact same job as an Architect.  We are involved in every aspect of the architecture of a building, from the site to the roof.  In Texas, a Designer is allowed, by law, to design up to 10,000 sf of architecture.  Foundations, Landscapes, Trusses and other engineered or specialty systems must designed by the appropriate licenced consultants.  (The engineering is true for designers and architects.)

The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners has this flowchart to help illustrate when you need an Architect, and when it’s legal to hire a Designer:

Should I hire an Architect or a Home Designer?

What are Annilee’s qualifications?

I’m not technically an Architect, however, I have studied architectural history, theory, design and construction through my Fine Arts and Interior Design degrees, on the job training, and yearly continuing education courses.  I have been nationally tested for Interior Design, through the NCIDQ, and will soon be nationally tested to become a Certified Building Designer.  I have been drafting for construction for over 10 years, and designing full houses for over 7 years.   See all about me here.

As Defined by The American Institute of Building Design

Building Designer is, first and foremost, a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style and budget of the client. A Building Designer may offer a complete array of professional services to you as the client and may consist of:

  • Residential Design, both single and multi-family, and commercial structures as permitted by the architectural statutes of each state.
  • Conferring with you to ascertain type, size, and ultimate usage of the structure during the initial planning stage.
  • Approaching any design problem based on the practical, functional and economical solutions that will best fulfill your requirements, while translating these factors into a concept that is both aesthetic and utilitarian.
  • Offering recommendations regarding the site, interior and exterior layout, materials to be used, and architectural and exterior treatments.
  • Furnishing you preliminary and detailed designs for the proposed structure, ranging from the initial concept to complete working drawings and specifications that will comply with all applicable building codes and regulations.
  • When the conceptual designs are accepted by you, the building designer may present a contract detailing the extent of the services to be furnished and outline the related responsibilities, fees, and structural, mechanical and electrical considerations.
  • Helping you select contractors and overseeing construction. You may retain a Building Designer to provide all or any part of the planning, design, and construction process as you desire. These services are subject to the policies and services of the individual designer you select.
  • When retained to do so, he may assist you by preparing and publishing bid proposals for construction, and may also interpret and explain bid proposals to you with any recommendations.
  • As your agent, he may as allowed by some states to conduct on-site inspections or observations of your construction, ensuring that all work meets the recognized standards.