What is the difference between a Building Designer and an Architect?

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Should you ask a building designer or an architect to design your home? Here’s a breakdown of the answer.

If you’re looking to build or renovate a home in the Melbourne area and want custom-designed plans to suit your needs, you will come across the term building designer

But what’s the difference between a building designer and an architect? 

It’s a good question and when the time comes to choose a professional, it helps to understand how architects and building designers differ in terms of their qualifications, services and price.  

In a nutshell, employing either of these service providers can have stunning results and the cost can even be similar. While people tend to automatically think of architects, the truth is many building designers can provide the same service and quality. 

So what is the difference? Let’s break down the definitions of both.



To practice as an architect, you must have achieved a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Architecture and be officially accredited. You must also have all of the necessary liability insurance in order to be registered in the first place. 

Architects will have studied many components of design and science as well as history and law associated with their field. A full architectural degree often takes around five years and budding architects generally must do two years in the field under an accredited mentor. Of course, creativity and collaboration with clients is also a huge part of being a successful architect.

Architects can design homes. However, they often tend to focus on larger buildings with multiple levels and a number of uses. Think of an office tower or major shopping mall. 


Building Designer

Building designers will need to complete an Advanced Diploma of Building Design which usually takes around 2.5 years to complete full time or four years part time.

Your building designer may not have a degree but can still perform all the duties of an architect, to a maximum of ten stories. 

They may not have the qualifications or accreditations that extend to huge apartment towers or commercial structures but they have still spent time studying and acquiring the skills to design a single or double-storey residence that will be a wonderful home for many years. 

When working on the design for your new home, your building designer must meet the requirements of local building and planning regulations, the same as an architect would. 

Many states don’t regulate building designers the way they regulate architects. In Victoria, however, building designers must be registered with the Building Practitioners Board. This keeps Victorian home builders well protected and maintains high standards amongst the state’s building designers.


Should I choose an architect or a building designer?

When performing a major renovation or building a new home, the choice between architect and home designer is really up to you. 

Building designers are equal to architects in the home renovation and residential market. In general, it is a good idea to shop around and find the professional who best suits you. Ask a lot of questions and find out how they work when it comes to creating a functional, sustainable and attractive home. Compare pricing; you don’t need to go to a high-end architect, even for a luxury home design. 

The very best architects and building designers will always work to accommodate your needs. You should also look for someone who is easy to work with and feels like a good ‘fit’.

At Mesh Design Projects, we provide a cost-effective, proven design process, flexible service and take great pride in our work. As a boutique design studio, we take on a small number of projects at a time so we can listen to your needs and work closely with you to create your dream home. Contact us for a free initial consultation.

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