When you're planning to update or build a new home, you'll probably have some basic ideas about what you want to see in your renovation or extension designs. Unless you're a qualified home designer, you'll need to find an expert to draw up precise plans so that your chosen builder knows exactly what will go where and how. But who do you call – an architect or a drafter?
The answer depends on knowing the difference between these two professionals and the specific expertise they can bring to your project. Both can draw and design a home, but let’s take a look at what else they do:
Architects have to register in Australia, and for this they need to have completed a recognised five to six years of intensive university study. Also, they must be licensed by local and global associations, which required an in-depth examination as well as practical work experience.
All this study is designed to produce a professional that is adept at every stage of the building process from concept to completion. He or she is well versed in CAD modelling tools (computer programs that can generate your project’s blueprints to your specs), and they'll also know what's required to satisfy council regulations and building codes.
Your architect is an all-rounder – it's their responsibility to make sure your extension or renovation design is structurally sound, comfortable to live in and aesthetically pleasing. They can also project manage the building process for you, submitting applications, ensuring builders follow their blueprints to the letter, organising the right materials and troubleshooting any issue that comes up during the build. Think of them as a knowledgeable partner who can make sure your dream home becomes a reality smoothly and efficiently.
A draftsperson's principal responsibility is to meticulously prepare CAD drawings (or blueprints) for an architect and/or builder. They’re industrial experts, crafting craft your specs in minute detail, often down to the circuitry and piping.
To learn this skill, they will have done a degree, certificate or diploma from a technical institute or TAFE over two years full time. Draftspeople are often more skilled at the nitty gritty of building design than architects and usually work alongside them in preparing blueprints for a client.
In the past drafting was done on paper, but now with computer software like CAD (computer aided design) applications this task has been made simpler and much more accurate. It's very unusual to see pencil and paper methods these days but it does occasionally.
Many draftspeople who specialise in residential design will go on to become architects, so if you find one with years of experience in the sort of project you’re proposing, they may be a cost-effective alternative.
So which should you choose for your project?
Both professionals are experts at what they do. A draftsperson will be less expensive than an architect to hire, but an architect has more experience in all aspects of building conception and design.
If you only have a small project, it’s not always necessary to call in an architect – in fact, around 75 per cent of residential design is often done by draftspeople who specialise in building design (according to Building Designers Australia).
However, if you want the added peace of mind and project management for larger or more complex home projects, an architect may be the best way to go.