Quote of the Week

Frank Llyod Wright Falling Water and quote

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Architect, Draftsperson or Building Designer: which professional should you choose to design your home?

I have worked in a various number of design roles over the course of my career to date, Architectural Draftsman, Building Designer and Registered Architect. Each role has a specific level of qualification and expertise. I would like to discuss these three types of designers based on my own experience, in the hope it will help you select the correct designer for your project.

Draftsperson

Architectural Draftspeople generally obtain their qualification by completing a Diploma of Building Design via TAFE (2 years full time/4 years part time). Draftspersons are skilled in the area of architectural documentation with an understanding of the laws relating to building projects. They generally obtain the majority of their work through project housing companies and smaller builders looking for a basic set of plans for construction. Draftspeople are not licensed and must perform their work under the guidance of a licensed building designer.

Draftspersons are skilled in the area of architectural documentation with an understanding of the laws relating to building projects.

Building Designers

Building Designers are involved with the design and documentation of building projects. They come from a vast array of design-related backgrounds, which can include individuals with degree qualifications. There are no restrictions on the use of the title ‘Building Designer’ and in several states and territories such as Western Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory and the ACT, where there are no registration requirements for building designers. There is greater consumer protection in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. In Victoria, registration is required under the Building Practitioners Board. In Queensland, licences are issued by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. If you do choose to engage a building designer, ensure they are licensed, have a look at their portfolio and/or talk to past clients to ensure they are the best fit for your project.

Building Designers are involved with the design and documentation of building projects.

Registered Architects

Architects are highly qualified and passionate design professionals with the ability to manage all aspects of the process including formulation of a design brief, design and documentation, construction inspections, contract management and post construction services. In order to practice as and use the title of ‘Architect’ in Australia you need to be registered with the Board of Architects in the state or territory in which you practice.

Rose Seidler House

Architects are highly qualified and passionate design professionals with the ability to manage all aspects of the process including formulation of a design brief, design and documentation, construction inspections, contract management and post construction services.

To be eligible for registration you need to have meet several criteria:

  • completed a recognised university degree (5 years full time)
  • post graduate experience (2 years minimum)
  • pass a written and verbal examination; and
  • once registered, participate in ongoing professional development to maintain registration

A Code of Conduct applies to all Registered Architects to ensure they display a level of professional integrity in the provision of their services. The registration process is undertaken to ensure anyone practising under the title of ‘Architect’ does so with an assumed level of knowledge and experience in accordance with an industry standard recognised by the Board of Architects.

Unfortunately, there are Draftspeople and Building Designers that refer to themselves as Architects. It is wise to check whether the architect you engage is registered at the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia.

Who should you choose?

Being an Architect, I believe a Registered Architect is the most qualified design professional for the majority of projects. In my opinion, there are reasons to consider engaging a Draftsperson or Building Designer. A Draftsperson is qualified to document an existing design concept. A building designer is qualified to transform your ideas into a working design concept through to preparation of building plans. But, if you have a project that requires a designer to ‘think outside the box’ and deliver an imaginative and refreshing solution for your site, from initial design through to completion, a Registered Architect would best serve your requirements.

If you are unsure about which design professional to choose, I am happy to answer questions via Facebook message.

Kew House 3

by Vibe Design Group

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Group via homedsgn.com

“In this Design, we sought to embody the iconic elegance of the 1950/60′s modernist style. The Facade drew inspiration from a classic styled stereo cabinet, with the spaced timber battens at opposing ends mimicking the speaker elements. The glazing to the rear of the residence takes full advantage of the northern orientation while providing transparency across the main level of the house.”

– Vibe Design Group (via homedsgn.com)

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Group via homedsgn.com

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Group via homedsgn.com

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Group via homedsgn.com
Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Group via homedsgn.com

5 Key Design Principles for New Home Design

There are many things to consider when designing a new a home from the topography of the site to the colour of the roof. Below are five, of what I consider to be the most important design principles for quality home design.

 

1. Site topography

The slope of the land will help dictate the floor levels required. A good design will have its levels step with the natural slope of the land, reducing excavation costs. On sloping sites many project builders insist on excavating, or adding, extravagant amounts of soil so they lay one level slab, for ease of construction. This solution may save you money in the short term but will often leave you with the additional excavation and retaining walls costs associated with creating a level platform. Stepping your home with the land will also add character and assist with the division of internal spaces.

 

2. Northerly aspect

Before purchasing a block of land it important to consider where north is as this will help dictate the best position for your living spaces on your site. Most of your time is spent in your living spaces and therefore deserve the best quality natural light possible. Natural light from the north should be controlled via the use of awnings or sun shades, this helps control the intensity of sunlight to create a comfortable environment. Some sites however have their views to the east, west or south, naturally in these circumstances you would prefer your living spaces looking out to the desired views. In these scenarios, clerestory windows or skylights should be considered to help bring quality northern light into living spaces. Fixed or adjustable screening is encouraged to west facing living spaces to reduce the heat and glare on the home.

Passive design principles illustrated

 

3. Natural ventilation

It is important to understand where the breezes are coming from on your site, I like to refer to natural ventilation as “free air conditioning”. In a sub-tropical or temperate climate natural ventilation works best when windows are placed no more than 8-12m apart at opposite ends of a space, this helps pull the breeze through the space between the openings. Ceiling fans should also be added to assist with this process. I live in a well-insulated correctly oriented home without air conditioning, on extremely hot/still days I find positioning myself close to a fan is enough to help cool myself to a comfortable temperature. Where designed correctly, a new home, without a reliance on air conditioning, can save you a lot of money in energy costs.

 

4. Insulation

While not the most exciting topic of discussion, insulating your home with insulation above the minimum requirements can prove a worthy investment. Wool batt insulation is ideal for framed wall and ceiling construction and performs a lot better than cheaper polyester batts. Integrating a polished concrete slab into you home design will also help keep you home cool in summer and warm in winter.

 

5. Aesthetics

I personally believe good architecture is based on simplicity. If you choose to include several angled roof lines and multiple wall and roof materials in your design you run the risk of making your home look overcomplicated. I also often see examples where the façade has been treated with a ‘feature material’ to the street façade only. This approach fails to account for how the building is actually viewed from different angles. Select two or three materials or colours only e.g. render, steel and timber cladding. Be bold and apply each around entire building forms and not just part of a wall or column seen from one viewpoint.

 

It takes a lot of skill and expertise to tie in all the above design considerations into a beautifully designed piece of architecture. Invest in an experienced and qualified designer, such as a registered architect, to ensure your home is the best it can be and to maximise the return on your investment.