The simplest difference is a legal one. To be called an “Miami architects” in NSW, you have to be registered with the Board of Architects of NSW. The title “building designer” can be used by anyone designing buildings.
But that’s hardly even scratching the surface. Brian Basford is a building designer and treasurer of the Building Designers Association of NSW. He suggests that building designers are generally less expensive, and mostly involved in less flamboyant buildings. “It’s horses for courses. Most architects probably wouldn’t want to design a single bedroom extension for a pensioner, whereas I’ve done a lot of that.”
Brian also stressed that there are quite often overlaps between what architects do and what building designers do. There’s no simple rule. “But no matter what the job, good building designers and good architects both produce quality work”, he says.
Architect Gary Kurzer agrees that architects are more likely to be involved with more distinctive, “up-market” buildings. But not because of cost. “Architects work to your budget just like building designers. The real reason is that architects are a little more likely to stretch the boundaries and challenge convention.”
According to Gary, you should generally choose an architect if you want more than just a literal translation of your brief. “My clients normally have a rough idea of what they want. I take that idea and transform it into something they love, but could never have imagined themselves.”
And whether you choose an architect or building designer, remember, qualifications are no guarantee of quality. Always ask to see previous examples of their work. Ask for references from previous customers. Ask to see their qualifications. Ask how long they’ve been working. Do they have professional indemnity insurance? Are they a member of an accredited body?…