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So what’s the REAL difference between an architect, designer, and a drafter – and who should you work with?

In many professions, you have options when it comes to choosing the right professional to work with. In medicine, there are physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, and doctors. In law, there are legal aids, paralegals, and attorneys. In finance, there are CPAs, non-licensed accountants, and bookkeepers. And when it comes to designing your home, there are architects, designers, and draftspeople. Each can all perform that role, but they each have different skills and will perform the task differently. So what’s the difference between them?

A Registered Architect

A registered architect is a licensed design professional with extensive education, training, and licensing and is legally responsible for all work they perform. For an architect to legally use the title “registered architect” in the United States, she usually (with few exceptions) must meet the following minimum education, training, and licensing requirements: graduate from an accredited university with an architecture degree (usually 5-6 years of study) complete a minimum amount of on-the-job experience (usually the equivalent of 2 years’ work) pass numerous AREs – Architectural registration exams administered by NCARB (at least 7 exams) take a certain number of continuing education courses each year to maintain a license. Typically an architect learns about design and problem-solving in school, where she also gets crash courses in the various building systems and processes. During the extensive on-the-job experience is where she learns how buildings are put together and who to work with to make it happen. As a highly educated and trained professional, more is legally expected of her, which increases her risk and exposure to liability. An architect is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. By stamping architectural drawings upon submission to the local jurisdiction, she is, in essence, making this pledge. The fact that an architect is a licensed design professional (and is held legally responsible for her actions) is the main difference between her and other design professionals.


Designers work hand in hand with architects in design firms creating and documenting design projects. It’s how they receive their on-the-job experience. In the US, a designer’s career path could have taken many forms. Here’s a few scenarios: T-here are designers who follow the same career path as architects, graduating from an accredited college and getting on-the-job training, but who for one reason or another, have not passed the AREs.
This designer could be currently taking the exams (sometimes it takes people years to finish all the exams) and just hasn’t passed them all yet.
-There are designers who, after graduating and working in a design firm, decide they don’t want to get licensed (not wanting the added responsibility and liability) and choose to continue their design career as an architectural designer.
-They may be a seasoned designer, having been in the architecture profession for many, many years and know a lot more than others about designing and building buildings OR they may have very well just come into the profession and have a degree in architecture.

A Draftsperson

There is no education, training, or licensing requirement for a draftsperson. A draftsperson can perform SOME of the tasks that an architect or designer does, but not all. And a draftsperson doesn’t have design education or experience, but they are highly proficient in using computer aided design & drafting software (CADD) to create architectural drawings for construction. They may have obtained certificates, but they don’t have design training, technical construction experience, and don't understand how a building is put together leaving you at high risk of leaky roofs, wobbly foundations, paper thin walls, poor insulation and other major head ache's home owners face as consequences of cheeping out up front.

Are floor plans accurate?

It is impossible to fit all of the information need to build the squarefoot you need and squeeze it onto paper. Floor plans are like a recipie to be followed where in which the out come slightly differs if 3 different contractors took the plans and built their versions of the same set of plans. Some clients upgrade to our LUX plans that include detailed drawings for a premium, to achieve precision beyond what the city requires for permit and safety concerns. Other clients are detailed oriented and hire us on for project management services to advocate on behalf of the client during construction to fill in the gaps.

What is a good floor plan?

One that fits the parameters of your families needs, wants, desires, lifestyle, function, storage requirements, hobbies and budget.

What is the best program to make floor plans?

Revit and that is what we use.

What do architects do all day?

Architects are the professionals responsible for turning ideas into buildings. At the same time, the daily duties of an architect at a small firm generally consist of communicating, managing projects, researching, planning, designing and drafting.

What can a Residential Designer do for me?

An architect works directly to secure his or her Client's interests, taking into account a full range of important issues including purpose and function, the character and location of a site, methods of construction, value for money, design quality and style as well as related legal and contractual matters.

How do you talk to an Designer?

On paper or online, sharing some visuals with your architect is a great way to make a connection. Every conversation you have with your architect should be reduced to notes. A lot of information will get passed back and forth and it's easy to lose track of decisions you've made or ideas you want to explore further