Building designer: all you need to know about hiring a building designer in Australia

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building designer in Australia

Renovation projects have many moving parts and homeowners need to work with several building professionals to make their projects successful. A building designer is one of those professionals. What exactly is a building designer and why should you hire one? This article will tell you all you need to know about building designers and what they can do to make your renovation project a success.  

What is a building designer?

A building designer is a design professional who’s responsible for developing creative and efficient designs. They handle both residential and commercial building design projects. Although building designers spend most of their time in offices, they also spend time on construction sites to check if the construction crew is following their designs. They also spend a lot of time conferring with clients to get a better idea on what the client wants to see in their buildings or houses.

Building designers can work hand in hand with draftsmen or draftspeople. They can have different educational degrees and it is not unusual to see building designers with degrees in architecture.

What is the difference between a building designer and an architect?

Because of how similar their jobs are, it is not surprising to find that many homeowners think that architects and building designers are the same. Both professions specialize in designing buildings. Architects and building designers possess the same skills and offer services that’s essential to homeowners who want to build or renovate their homes.

The biggest distinction between the professions concerns government registration. You can work in many places in Australia as a building designer without having to register with the government. There are also no mandatory qualifications or credentials for those aspiring to become building designers.

On the other hand, not everyone can call themselves architects, even if they took up architecture. Although a degree in architecture is a must, there are other requirements. You can take up architecture multiple times and have decades of professional experience and still not be an architect. If you want to legally call yourself an architect, you need to register with a state-based architecture board. Another requirement for registering as an architect is liability insurance.

building designer in Australia

Responsibilities of a building designer in Australia

Sketching building plans

Building plans are a set of drawings required during constructions. They are graphical representations of what a building will look like after construction. Building plans are critical because they represent the vision of the building designer and act as a guide for all members of the construction crew. There are different types of drawings comprising a building plan and each drawing corresponds to a part of the building and a building designer is responsible for most of these drawings including:

Site plan – This is a comprehensive drawing that shows the entire building project. It shows the property boundaries and the ingress and egress points to the property. If there are nearby structures or adjacent buildings, a building designer includes them in the site plan especially if they will affect the overall project. The building designer can work with a licensed plumber or a licensed electrician to include service connections in the site plan like the water supply, plumbing and drainage lines, exterior lighting, and electrical and communications lines.

A site plan is the first drawing that homeowners will need because it details the size, layout, and orientation of a building. The site plan should also comply with local building regulations.

Floor plan – A floor plan is a drawing that shows a structure as viewed from above. The floor plan shows the different rooms or spaces in a house or building. It also shows the walls, windows, doors, and other features such as the stairs, fittings, and furniture.

You will often see floor plans in two dimensional drawings with measurements and details. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see floor plans in 3D so homeowners can clearly see what a room would look like including the different pieces of furniture the rooms will contain.

Calculating labour and material requirements

Some building designers help homeowners estimate the labour and material requirements for a construction or renovation. Since building designers crafted the overall design of a building, they are in the best position to estimate how many building professionals the project will need and how long it might take to complete.

At times, a building designer can also advise a homeowner on the different materials that a project will require. If a homeowner wants to use a different material, the building designer can check the material and determine if it will fit the building design or if the designer needs to make some adjustments.

building designer in Australia

Conduct site visits

Building designers conduct initial visits to construction sites to measure up if it is a large project. They continue visiting sites to also assess the progress of a project. Conducting visits is also an excellent way to determine if the construction team is following the building design that the designer developed. In conducting site visits, building designers can also check if the project will meet the projected timeline or if the timeline needs adjustments.

Examining relevant building codes

A building designer is knowledgeable about the local building regulations or codes and can help in making sure that the project has all the permits it needs to proceed. If a planned construction will violate a building code, the designer can make adjustments in the site or floor plan to avoid violations that may result in penalties or construction delays.

Qualities of a building designer in Australia

Residential building designers need a wide range of skills because they assist homeowners throughout a building construction or renovation project including planning, designing, construction, and interior design. Here are some of the skills a building designer needs to fulfil their responsibilities effectively:

Communication skills

Exceptional listening skills are important for building designers in understanding and interpreting the visions of homeowners.

Building designers also need excellent interpersonal skills because they will work with other building professionals on construction projects and maintaining great working relationships can help projects proceed smoothly.

Design skills

Creative and conceptual thinking to help homeowners develop an aesthetic and functional building design.

The ability to produce functional drawings to guide the construction crew during the building stage.

IT skills

An excellent knowledge of CAD and 3D drawing programs to provide homeowners of visual representations of their projects.

Working knowledge of the construction business

Building designers need comprehensive knowledge of local building regulations, permits, building plans, building sites, and floor plans to make sure that construction projects don’t violate local council regulations.

Building designers also need excellent project management skills because they need to liaise not just with building professionals but with the local councils, contractors, and suppliers.   

Possessing excellent market research skills is also critical for building designers because they will assist homeowners in identifying suppliers of building materials and sourcing other renovation needs. 

building designer in Australia

Qualifications of a building designer in Australia

Building designers can operate in many places in Australia without qualifications or credentials. If you plan on working as a designer, you can do so without a license or registration in the following states:

  • Western Australia
  • New South Wales
  • ACT
  • Northern Territory
  • South Australia

Building designers in Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria need to register with the Building Practitioners Board under the category of Draftsperson, Class of Building Design in compliance with the Victoria Building Act of 1993. The Victoria Building Act of 1993 provides a framework for the regulation of building construction, building standards and specific building safety features.

In Tasmania, the qualifications of a building designer depends on the project the designer is working on. If a building designer is working on a project that costs more than $5,000 the designer must hold a Building Practitioner Accreditation.

Queensland requires building designers to have a BSA Building Design License. Unlike in Tasmania, Queensland requires a license no matter how much the building project costs, whether it is a low rise, medium rise, or open type building.

Although it is not a requirement, it is best for a building designer in Australia to hold a membership in professional associations like the Building Designers of Australia (BDA) or the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV). These associations offer continuing professional development (CPD) which means that members are updated on the local laws and pressing issues concerning their profession.

What kind of projects do building designers do?

Residential renovation projects – Building designers can help homeowners develop plans for renovating existing homes to make them more functional or update their overall looks.

New building designs – If a homeowner wants to build a new house, a building designer can provide assistance by providing building design plans.

Home additions – A residential building designer in Australia can help a homeowner who wants to build additions to a home like a granny flat, a garage, a shed, or an additional home.

home design

Heritage restorations – Building designers can help homeowners restore historic buildings to their original state while protecting their historical value. Aside from repairing damages, heritage restorations can also help reveal or recover the historic value of a building covered by previous building works.

Designing commercial buildings – In addition to designing homes, building designers can also develop building designs for commercial buildings or structures including hotels, factories, offices, restaurants, and warehouses

How much do building designers charge?

This is a tricky question because as with all professionals, building designers have different set of fees and charges. Some building designers charge on an hourly basis while others prefer to charge fixed rates. The rates that building designers command also differs depending on the location of the project and the length of professional experience of the building designer you plan to hire.

There are also different levels of services by building designers according to the amount of services a homeowner requires. These include:

Basic services – Building designers provide basic services including client consultations and project designs during the planning stage of a construction project. During the building phase, a building designer can brief consultants and conduct site visits. They can also provide drawings of minimum standards.

Enhanced services – Enhanced services include coordinating with all building consultants throughout a project. This service also includes providing detailed drawings of the interiors of a house or building, electrical layout, and landscape designs.

Full services – In addition to everything that’s mentioned above, full services include providing assistance with contracts and assisting throughout the entire building process.

Building designers typically charge a percentage of the total cost of a project. However, the percentage for low-cost projects are often higher compared to more expensive projects. Projects that cost below $200,000 might entail a fee of around 7.5% of the total cost while projects exceeding $200,000 might entail a fee of between 5 to 7% of the total cost.

For renovation projects, expect building designers to charge:

$2,800 – Small to medium single room extension

$3,200 – Medium to large extensions covering two rooms

$3,900 – Detailed plans for renovating or redesigning a large house.

Remember that these are estimates and the best way to get a more accurate quote of charges is by getting in touch with a building designer. You can get a free detailed quote for your project using Superdraft.

home designer

How to find a building designer

Finding the perfect building designer in Australia is challenging and time-consuming. There is also the danger of hiring a building design expert without the experience and qualifications to deliver the results you want. 

If you want to make sure that you are working with the best residential building designer in Australia, contact Superdraft. Superdraft will match you with the right  expert who can help you develop a building design to make your house functional and liveable while keeping up with the latest home design trends. 

Use Superdraft to connect with the best building design professional in your area

Hiring an expert building designer is the first step when building a new house or renovating an existing structure. With the help of a right designer, you are sure that your house will serve the needs of your family and look trendy. 

If it’s your first time to build a home or renovate a house, a building designer can assist you throughout the building process so you make informed decisions to achieve the best results. If you want to make sure that your home renovation project or new house construction project will be a success, connect to a building design expert through Superdraft. Sign up  and get a free custom  design quote suitable to your project. 

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