It has come to my attention recently that there seems to be a fallacy in the way the general public view the differences between draftsman, building designers and architects. Perhaps this is through lack of knowledge on the subject or complete ignorance but I feel the injustice will continue until more people are made aware of exactly what each job entails and the pros and cons of working with each profession.

A basic rundown of the main differences is needed in order to properly decide for yourself which path to take when hiring someone to prepare drawings on your behalf. Firstly, draftsmen and building designers are often categorised as the same and in fact, many people within these professions will consider themselves both. There are however slight differences between the two. Draftsmen are generally TAFE qualified, and would normally work under the supervision of an architect or building designer. Some will also produce drawings for builders. Some draftsmen are not licensed and by Queensland law are not permitted to produce plans directly for a consumer.

In contrast, building designers are either TAFE or Tertiary qualified and must be licensed in Queensland by the Building Services Authority (BSA) under the name “Building Designer”. This means that in Queensland building designers are registered under the same licensing system as all builders and building contractors. A condition of the BSA license is that a Building Designer must hold professional indemnity insurance. In Queensland there is no difference in the work that can be done by a building designer as opposed to an architect. A Building Designer must be registered in Queensland to prepare plans directly for a consumer.

When it comes to architects, the main difference is that they are tertiary qualified, must pass an architectural practice exam, and be registered by the Board of Architects of Queensland (BOAQ). Architects have the training to design a wide range of building types from small dwellings to city high-rise. An architect must hold professional indemnity insurance and must be registered in Queensland to prepare drawings directly for a consumer.

Now that the differences have been outlined, it is clear to see that building designers and architects produce the exact same work and both see projects through from start to finish. When deciding who to hire for a project, most people’s decision will boil down to finances. This is where the biggest difference of all comes into play. While the exact same outcome will be produced from each, the fee structures vary greatly. Architects can be up to ten times the price of a building designer. Some may argue that yes, they are tertiary qualified and therefore will produce a superior end result. I would put it to those people that perhaps they have not found the right building designer and perhaps with the extra income, an architect has the luxury of spending far longer on a project then otherwise would be necessary. The work produced by each should be of equal quality. It is the same in any profession, there can be some people who are fantastic at their job, while others may lack the experience or enthusiasm to produce quality work.

The purpose of this article is to show that building designers have a rightful place in the world of new house designs and renovations. When the right designer is found, the quality of the work and the money saved by not hiring an architect will be enough to convince anyone of their merit.