Should You Hire
a Building Designer or an Architect?

The best answer is to choose the professional that best fits your needs and your budget, and who you feel most comfortable with.


In the world of residential building, both an Architect & Building Designer can perform the same role.

  • They both can have the same education and experience levels.
  • They both can be experts in architectural design.
  • They both can maximize design opportunities for your home, your site and your budget.
  • They both can provide blueprints and construction documents and stamp plans for permits.
  • They both can help you through the construction process.
  • They both can be educated in the Health, Safety and Welfare of the people inhabiting the buildings they design.

Laws regarding licensing, design and permitting differ by state and municipality.  As an owner or developer, you should always check with your state architectural board, and your city planning department to find out exactly who and what is required for the type of project you are planning.

Building Designers, Architects, Interior Designers

Architect — Architects are required to have an Architectural degree, job experience, and be nationally tested through NCARB.  Each state will have it’s own Architectural Board that oversees licensing. Typically, a Licensed Architect is required for multi-family projects larger than a dupex, and buildings over 10,000 square feet or over 3 stories. 

Building Designer — Many Building Designers do have Architectural or Design degrees, and years of experience,  but have simply chosen not to sit for the national testing. A CERTIFIED Building Designer has been nationally vetted and tested through The American Institute of Building Design. For most residential and small commercial projects, a Building Designer can perform the same services as an architect. See Below for more details.

Registered Interior Designer — A Registered, or Certified, Interior Designer usually hold a design degree, years of experience and has been certified through the NCIDQ.  They typically deal with the interior architecture, finish out and decor.  In many projects an Interior Designer will draft plans just like an Architect or Building Designer.  They can also stamp plans for permitting in many cases.

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 Building Designer, in Texas.
Should I hire an Architect or a Designer?

What Is A Building Designer?

A Building Designer is typically doing the exact same job as an Architect.  They are involved in every aspect of the architecture of a building, from the site to the roof.  In Texas, a Building Designer is allowed, by law, to design single family homes, duplexes, and commercial buildings up to 10,000 sf and 3 stories or less.  Foundations, Landscapes, Trusses and other engineered or specialty systems must designed by the appropriate licenced consultants.  (The engineering is also required for architects.)

As Defined by The American Institute of Building Design

Professional Member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) is an individual who is actively engaged in the professional practice of residential design either as the proprietor of, or as a design employee of, a firm providing building design services. The AIBD established an autonomous body known as the National Council of Building Designer Certification (NCBDC) to create and administer an examination and certification program. These certified persons are permitted to use the title of Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD).

Certified Members have more than six-years of work experience, have submitted examples of their work, and have been tested on competencies related to performing services as a building designer.

From 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.

What are Annilee's Qualifications?

Texas Registered Interior Designer

I am a Certified Professional Building Designer, having been nationally tested and qualified through the American Institute of Building Design. I have also been nationally tested  and qualified for Interior Design, through the NCIDQ, and am a Registered Interior Designer.  I have been drafting for construction for 15 years, and designing full houses for 10 years.  I have studied architectural design, history, theory, and construction through my Fine Arts and Interior Design degrees, nearly 20 years of on the job training, and yearly continuing education courses. See all about me here

interested in design services?