Which is best, an Architect or a Building Designer?

by Ryan Stannard | May 4, 2024

You’ve finally settled on your land and you are now ready to build your own home…

It’s an exciting time!

But who should you engage next, an architect or a building designer…or neither?

Choosing between an architect or a building designer depends on the complexity of the project, your budget, and your personal preferences. 

So here are some factors I would recommend you consider.

Factors to Consider: Architect vs. Building Designer

Which is best, an Architect or a Building Designer?1Architects are typically trained to handle complex projects such as large commercial buildings or high-end residential homes with unique features. 

If you have a complex project that requires intricate design and engineering, an architect may be the better choice. 

Building designers on the other hand, are typically best suited for simpler projects such as renovations or smaller residential homes.

It’s also important to be aware that architects generally charge higher fees than building designers due to their advanced training and experience.

So that may also be a factor in your decision-making process if you have a smaller budget.

Ultimately, the decision between an architect and a building designer will depend on your specific needs and preferences. 

The Pitfall of Unbuilt Designs

Which is best, an Architect or a Building Designer?3

However, unless you have unlimited resources there is something very important that you should be aware of that will affect your decision for either of these choices…

A quick search of the internet will reveal that around 70% of architecturally designed homes never get built.

That is a lot of money being wasted on designs that never see the light of day.

So who is to blame?

While some projects are affected by a change in circumstances for the client such as redundancy, relocation or divorce, the vast majority of these designs never come to life due to the cost of construction exceeding budget…

The reason for that is simple.

Architects and building designers are not structural engineers.

Neither are they builders who understand how a new home is constructed and the costs that are associated with different design aspects.

So if you are designing a new home and you give an architect or a building designer a budget to work on, how would they know what to design?

The simple truth is that they don’t, which is why they get paid to produce fantastic looking homes that clients can't afford to build.

So what do you do in order to avoid endless rounds of revisions in a futile attempt to get the budget to meet the design rather than designing a home to a predetermined budget?

Engaging a Design & Construction Company

Which is best, an Architect or a Building Designer?2

The solution is to engage a design & construction company from the very beginning.

You still get to work with an architect on a high-end home, or a building designer for a regular dwelling, however, they will operate under the guidance and advice of an experienced custom home specialist that can keep the design within the budget right from the start.

No false expectations regarding what is really possible for the available budget…

No wasted time on unnecessary design revisions because your budget wasn't achieved…

And no wasted money on a concept that never saw the light of day!

However, even when working with an experienced builder from a design and construct company you will still need to follow these three steps in order to achieve a successful outcome.

First, you must be open, honest and realistic about your budget.

If you think you can influence the contract price by anchoring a lower budget than you are comfortable paying, then you are simply wasting everyone’s time because you won't be satisfied with the outcome.

Managing Scope Creep

Also, be aware that scope creep will increase your budget so be wary of a company that does not advise you of the required increase in budget every time you reveal an addition to your wish list.

Everything will be included in the final price so you are better off knowing how the budget is changing as the design evolves.

Rather than finding out at the end of the project that you are now hopelessly over budget.

And always deal with a specialist, someone that has built multiple homes similar to your intended project. That’s because experience keeps designs on budget!

It doesn’t matter if you are building your first home or if you have built many times before…

Designing a new home can be very overwhelming and when you hear new things for the first time, it's not easy to remember everything.

All the tips I’ve covered here are just a small sample of the information I need to share with you to ensure you are well informed when you get started on the design process... 

Which is why I put together a quick guide for you to download. 

The 7 Things You Must Know Before Designing A New Home.

It’s completely free, and it will help you to avoid any nasty surprises that can sneak up on you when building a custom home.

Just click on the link below and let me know the email address you'd like me to send it to.


Download Our Free Guide For Building In Adelaide