3 May 2016

Architect or Designer or Draftsman: Who Should You Hire?

Depending on your project, an architect, designer, or draftsman might be the best choice for capturing your ideas and rendering them in drawings that can be used by builders. Here's a comparison of each type of professional and their scope of work and experience.
questions you should always ask your designer

Depending on your project, an architect, designer, or draftsman might be the best choice for capturing your ideas and rendering them in drawings that can be used by builders. Here’s a comparison of each type of professional and their scope of work and experience.


In Australia, architects are required to have at least 5 years of study, with 2 years accounting for a Master of Architecture program from an accredited university. They must then gain a minimum of 2 years of industry experience, with one year being in Australia and subsequent to graduation, before applying for a license. All Australian architects are registered by a state or territory Architects’ Registration Board. As licensed professionals, architects are legally responsible for the work they do. An architect may specialize in one type of architectural project, but generally, architects have experience in a variety of areas from residential architecture to historical preservation.

If your project requires inspections and the approval of a building permit, hire an architect. This is often the case with commercial projects. While not all agencies require architect approval to get a building project done, hiring an architect will cover your bases and save you the hassle of ensuring your project satisfies council requirements. Your homeowner association, if you have one, might also require architect approval for renovation projects. Although services from an architect are generally more expensive, you can be assured of a structurally sound building.

Building Designer

Not all areas in Australia requires building designers to carry licenses. They are licensed in select areas, particularly Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania. In these parts, depending on the license they hold, a building designer and an architect can have the same job description.

While they cannot legally call themselves architects, a building designer can perform many of the same functions, such as designing structurally sound buildings, taking into account your design vision and rendering working documents for council approval. Many building designers possess expertise in construction and materials as well.

Without licenses, however, under the law a building designer and a draftsman are considered the same role. Building designers are then distinguished according to their academic qualifications. Many are graduates of specific TAFE courses.

A building designer would be ideal if you require additional creative input in a residential project. Keep in mind that unlike what most think, building designers are not always cheap nor do they always produce fewer drawings. Building designers can put in more hours of work, which can be costly, but they can also generate high output.


A draftsman provides working technical drawings of building projects. Many consider themselves as both a building designer and a draftsman, but there are a few subtle differences between the two.

Firstly, a draftsman does not require a license to offer architectural drafting services. Because of this, a draftsman generally works under the supervision of a licensed architect or a building designer. Some areas, such as Queensland, prohibit draftsmen from working directly with clients. Drafting services in Brisbane, for example, are usually offered through architectural firms as opposed to directly from draftsmen. They can, however, produce drawings for builders.

Although the average draftsman in Australia is likely to be TAFE qualified, many have learned technical drawing on the job. This means that becoming a draftsman can take as little as 1-2 years as opposed to the 7 years it will take to be a licensed architect.

Hiring a draftsman is best for small projects and renovations that require clear drawings for builders. Before hiring a draftsman, it is recommended to decide what you want and be certain that the work you require is possible. A draftsman is generally more affordable than an architect, but you have to note that their drawings need to reflect every detail of the construction process and that the specifications in the drawings need to satisfy council-mandated standards.

You can also check out the traits of great draftsman.

Regardless of your project, it is best to screen each candidate, check on their licensing credentials, and look into their project history. If you would like to know more about building design and drafting services in Australia, contact us.

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