Building Designers and Architects – What’s the Difference?

Building designers and architectsBuilding Designers and architects, what makes the two different? The state license you, giving you the authority to call yourself an Architect. You must obtain a license for each state you practice architecture in. You can not use the term “Architect” illegally without being licensed. Any advertising form such as business cards, company name, etc. is prohibited.

College students study at accredited architectural programs to become licensed architects. The program is 5 years for a bachelors degree. Then, students worked under a licensed Architect as an intern before taking a state licensing exam.

Building designers and architects education

Unlicensed Architects are know as a Building Designer, Residential Designer, or Home Designer. The laws in most states do not require a licensed architect to design residential buildings. Building Designers primarily specialize in residential architecture. Building designers train in the field through employment with other building designers or architects. They also acquire education at universities with architecture programs such as an Architectural Engineering program.

An Architectural Engineering program covers many of the architectural program courses found in an accredited School of Architecture. Some of the similarities include architectural history, project estimating, strength of materials, architectural design and working drawings (residential and commercial), construction practices, structural design, solar heating and cooling, mechanical systems, electrical systems, codes & specifications, and surveying. This program train students in building design and usually focus more on residential. This skill set can be used to create  stock house plans, custom home designs, home additions, and home remodeling. The program is four (4) years in length and is not accredited. Building designers are able to design light commercial buildings also. Each state, city, and local county has its on laws that address the limit on size and other issues. Some states restrict all commercial work to licensed architects.

Design professional organizations

There are two organizations in which building designers can achieve a level of public professionalism. They are AIBD (the American Institute of Building Design) and NCBDC (the National Council of Building Design Certification). AIBD is to building designers what AIA is to Architects. Professionals bound together by common interest and expertise in this organization. In fact, AIBD include building designers and architects within its membership. Both groups require a certain amount of CEU’s (continuing education units) each year to show that you are actively learning and staying in tune with the latest in design technology.

NCBDC is a separate organization that oversee the national certification of building designers. House plan designers looking to become nationally certified will have to pass a two (2) day certification exam involving eleven (11) sections. If successful, they become CPBD or a “Certified Professional Building Designer”. This is the highest accolade that a residential building designer can attain. Building designers are not required to be certified by law, but this may very well change in the near future as several state are moving towards regulations on the residential design industry.

Building designers or home designers, as referred to by some, do great work. In some cases, building designers are even better than some architects that specialize in other types building designs. This is not to say that architects are not good home plan designers, but you may consider choosing your design professional based on his/her specialty, experience, talent, and not just licensure. Interviewing Building Designers for home design services would help you in making a choice between the two. You will likely encounter various home plan design fees with either of these design professionals, so you must also consider your design services budget too.