Many have debated the notion of using either a home designer or architect. It is a debate that may continue as long as time will exist. What isn’t in doubt is the fact that both home design professionals are capable of laying out functional floor plan designs for home builders and private clients, either for new home construction house plans, a home remodel, or renovation.  However, there are things you will need to consider to determine which is right for you. You should know which of the two your state allows to do the work, the experience, and what the services will cost.

State Laws

While you may have the option of choosing  between the two, your neighboring state can have laws that restrict your options. For instance, most states in the U.S. have laws that allow home designers to provide home design services for residential projects that include single family homes, duplex, and townhouses. This even extend to light commercial buildings and interior space planning that falls within a certain building classification and up to a particular square footage. As an example, the state of Georgia allows home designers to do single family residential design with no square foot restrictions. In addition, they can also design light commercial buildings like office buildings up to 5,000 square feet. Assembly and educational occupancy, health care occupancy, care facilities, multifamily housing, apartment complexes, or buildings classified as high hazard are excluded from this exception.

If you are in a state that have more restrictive laws, you simply have no direct choice. Every set of plans whether it be commercial or residential design, will require the plans to be prepared by a licensed architect who is registered with the state. New Jersey is a state that requires all plans to be prepared and sealed with an architects stamp. This is the only way the plans will be approved by the permitting office. Home Designers in states such as this, tend to have a working relationship with an architect to meet these requirements.

Design Expertise

The amount of experience and the specialty is another key factor in determining which design professional to use. The assumption is that most architects design homes. Actually that is not exactly the case. Most architects tend to focus more on commercial projects and residential as a secondary option. On the other hand, home designers devote most of if not all of their time to residential design. This is not to say that architects should not be considered rather you should consider their strength and weaknesses based on their past work and how much of their work is devoted to commercial and residential.


Although this is listed third in line, cost is actually at the top of everyone’s list. Fees are hard to nail down because they vary widely among design professionals. On average, architects tend to be more expensive when compared to home designers. However, there are some home designers who are pricey as well. In these cases, your design budget will ultimately determine who you will choose to prepare your custom set of house plans.

In the end, the use of either a home designer or architect is a matter of personal preference. You have to determine for yourself if you can have a working relationship with the designer or architect. In addition, you should choose someone who you feel can capture the essence of your ideas and apply them to your home design. Your budget will also play a role in your decision. Consider each of these factors and don’t let either of them outweigh any of the others.

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