Drafting service, building designer or architect?

I will attempt to explain the differences:

Drafting services:

Drafting services will only partake in drawings; will draw exactly what you want, without questions, with minimal design input and coordination with other consultants. Their documentation is very basic and therefore cheaper. Drafting services generally accept less responsibility if things don’t work out so if you design something and it is not compliant and they draw it the way you designed it then it is your problem and you will have to pay them extra to rectify the drawings.

Building Designers:

Building designers generally can do whatever an architect can do but are less qualified and are limited to do smaller projects. To become qualified as a building designer a person must complete a two to three year TAFE diploma. Building designers contrary to what their title implies and to my knowledge, do not cover design as a subject in their training so all their design skills are either self-taught or learned on the job.


Architects generally have a five to six year university degree plus an additional minimum of 2 years working experience before becoming registered with the Registration board. While architecture degrees like building designers diplomas cover technical aspects of construction, design is the main focus of the course. Architects are qualified to do larger, more complex commercial and upmarket residential projects, with that said architects also do small projects as well but you should expect an architect to come up with a much more refined and interesting solution. Architects are interested in the broader sphere of influence on their designs and spend a lot more time on design and their own professional development

At the end of the day I always say that anyone can paint a picture, write a book or make up a song but not everyone can paint a masterpiece, write an amazing novel, or create a chart topping hit.


Fees: Why are architects so much more expensive when compared to drafties?

  1. Drafting services generally do drawings only
  2. Building designers do some design, drawings specifications, OH&S reports, tendering, and sometimes contract administration if required.
  3. Architects as a standard do context studies, viability studies, design research, design, drawings, detail drawings, full specifications, OH&S reports, tendering and contract administration. I would also say architects spend much more time on each of these tasks than building designers.  With that said any architect will tell you that it’s not a profession you choose because of the money because salaries for architects are generally much lower than those of other professions with similar level of qualifications.

The price comes down to a few things:

  1. Architects are more qualified so you should expect a better outcome
  2. How talented is the designer/architect at design, documentation and project management
  3. How busy is the designer/architect
  4. How complex is your project and therefore how many hours are required by the designer /architect to get the result you want
  5. How much liability are you willing to take on? A bad design or badly built building could devalue your property. Bad drawings done on the cheap can be incomplete, unresolved or downright incorrect causing an absolute headache on site and can end up leading to costly variations.
  6. Building is a very complicated undertaking. Can you afford to make expensive mistakes? Especially about things you don’t even realise are issues until it is too late or too expensive to fix. Apart from having the required education and experience architects are by law to be covered by professional indemnity insurance.
  7. How much time do you have to devote to your project? Do you have a realistic expectation of what is required in terms of resolve and time? Remember that like anything a professional in a certain field can obviously do a job much quicker and better than a layperson.
  8. How much skill and experience do you have for making design decisions and project management?

It takes much more time and money to design a complex luxury house than it does to design a shed.