A client of mine called me last week and said: “Darren please write a blog on the difference between an architect and a draftsperson, so others don’t make the same mistake I did.”
Which should you choose: architect or draftsman? It’s a question I am asked often and it’s a good one; there is a big difference, yet in this country unlike in many others you don’t have to be an architect to design a home.
Traditionally a draftsperson prepared technical drawings and plans under the direction of an architect. The act of drafting being part of the architectural process: The architect works out how their design will be built, passes this to their draftsperson in the form of sketches, which they re-draw neatly for distribution to the builder. It freed up architects to take on more projects.
This however changed decades ago, and many if not most drafts-people now operate as “building designers”; that is they undertake the design also, with no architect involved. Why? Because the industry here is not regulated, so they can.
A drafting degree is a TAFE level diploma, most of which are one or two years in length. An architecture degree is a University degree that is 5 years full time, followed by a minimum of two years practical experience in an architectural practice, after which you are eligible to sit the registration exams, the final step to becoming an architect. It takes a minimum of 7 years to become an architect; it takes as little as 1 to 2 years to become a draftsperson.
Drafts-people are an important and necessary part of the building industry. The issue however is they have crossed into doing work they have no training in, and this is reflected in the homes they produce. It is estimated that architects design only 3% of houses in Australia. With 97% of our houses created by people who aren’t designers, it’s no wonder that most new houses in this country are so badly designed with no thought to responding to their surrounds like avoiding overshadowing, or to energy efficiency and aesthetics.
This upsets me greatly. I wrote a blog the recently about the importance of good architecture in our lives, so I am saddened that most miss out on these benefits.
I acknowledge that there are some drafts-people out there who have natural design ability and produce good work, but in my time I can say I’ve only seen a few.
In all their extra years of training, architects learn not just about how to do technical drawings, but design, what makes good design, construction systems, engineering, planning regulations, energy efficiency, material science, design philosophy, history etc. A draftsman learns about technical drawing, and some general construction knowledge, that is it.
Many who have gone the way of the draftsperson will say that Architects cost more. They do, but you get what you pay for. I spend months designing a house. I know that draftspersons will spend just a few weeks. Their fees are less because they do far less work, or put another way not much design thought or input. Their construction drawings will consist of 3 to 5 sheets in total for anew house. My houses: 15-25 sheets of drawings. Such is the depth and level of design detail that myself and other architects go to.
With any new home or renovation starting at several hundred thousand dollars to build, wouldn’t you want to entrust this money to an expert? One who will create the best possible design, maximising what you get, and how your money is spent? The added amount an architect costs will be made back many times over in the added resale value that “architect designed homes” sell for. Architects actually make you money, but more importantly, you get to live in a home that functions superbly, looks beautiful, is built to a far higher level of quality, and performs better in terms of energy consumption. Pick up any home design magazine, and you won’t find a single home designed by a draftsperson…
Ok, that’s off my chest. I wrote this blog as I love and I am all about the positive effect good design has on peoples lives. My hope is I have made more people aware of how much more you get when you engage an architect.
Any questions? Please share in the comments section below. Also if there are any topics you would like to me to cover, please let me know.