What is the difference between a Professional Building Designer and an Architect? I’ve had a lot of people ask me this question over the years.
A licensed Architect can design almost anything. Hospitals, Schools, Public Buildings as well as houses. They are only licensed in their state. The people who become Architects go to college and learn about Architectural theory, history, business and so on. Typically, they don’t learn how a house is actually built and touch very lightly on drafting. I always thought it ironic that they teach you about “Architecture” but fail to teach you how to communicate the design intent to the trades. In this line of work, we communicate through drawings. If you don’t know how to draw a set of construction drawings, how do you instruct the trades on how they should go about building the structure correctly?
Professional Building Designers are typically people that have a history in the trades (framing, plumbing, HVAC, masonry, etc) and have brought their practical experience to the practice of design. These professionals know from experience how a house goes together. In many ways, Professional Building Designers are more suited to your project than an (especially young and inexperienced) Architect.
Due to organizations like The AIBD (American Institute of Building Design) we have a great wealth of knowledge and accountability. Professional members must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the various building codes and of construction methods by taking CEU’s (Continuing Education Units). They hold their members accountable to maintain the professional standards.
“The learning is in the doing” – Frank Lloyd Wright
To help you further understand when it may be necessary to engage an Architect (instead of a Professional Building Designer), I have included a chart which was published by the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners below: