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Architect vs. Draftsman

Do I Need An Architect, or Draftsman?

When you venture into the world of construction, either for a new building or a remodel, you are going to get a lot of advice from a lot of different people. The first thing people will usually tell you is to hire an architect or a draftsperson.

The problem is, on the surface, these two job titles can seem incredibly similar and yet, the cost for their services can vary pretty significantly. So what separates them and, more importantly, who do you need to hire?

This brief article will highlight what separates these professionals from each other and, hopefully, give you some clarity on who would be best for your project.

What does a draftsperson do?

A draftsperson is an expert in drawing up blueprints and designs. They focus on documentation and delivery of plans. Usually, they’ve had some training / schooling on how to do this properly and are more than capable of creating clear, accurate building plans for jurisdiction building permits.

A draftsperson, generally speaking, doesn’t handle any design work. They are strictly specialists when it comes to drawing the plans. Here’s a metaphor that makes it easy to understand: Think of a building as a beautiful, delicious chocolate cake. It’s the draftsperson’s job to write down the recipe for it. They didn’t invent the chocolate cake and they aren’t going to bake it, they just write the instructions.

Another thing that separates a draftsperson from architects is training and licensing. Currently, requirements vary from state to state to become a draftsperson. In some states there is no certification. This is great for those who want to be self-taught, but that also means there is no way of guaranteeing the level of skill or expertise of a given draftsperson. However with a little effort it is not hard to find a well qualified draftsperson in your area with a good reputation.

What does an architect do?

Architects are the most licensed and, therefore, the most expensive of the group. To be an architect, you must have at least a university degree AND pass a licensing exam. On top of that, architects must continually get re-licensed every year. That means they have to build the cost of their own education into their rates.

Architects can perform all of the functions of a draftsperson. They can draw up plans, give valuable input in the design materials and process, and deliver accurate documentation. However, architects also have the necessary knowledge and skill to make informed design decisions on the building to improve its form and function.

Essentially, they can take what a client wants out of a building and ensure that it looks good, serves the purpose it needs to, and stays on budget. Anyone who has dealt with construction projects knows this isn’t an easy thing to do.

So which one is right for me?

If you’re concerned about expense, or your project is relatively small, it’s usually best to use a draftsperson. In these cases, they can give you everything you need without the unnecessary cost of an architect. For larger projects, most people choose to use an architect. More in-depth and complicated builds often need the problem-solving abilities of people with extra training.

This is a good time to talk about budget. Generally speaking, an architect is substantially more expensive to hire than a draftsperson. In my opinion, for most people building in the 1200 to 3500 square foot range, there are ample plans available that can be modified by a draftsman.

One final thought!

Before you design your dream home, consult with a few builders about estimating how much per square foot your finished home may cost. Builders are wary of doing this because there are many variables in the construction process, and they don’t want to lose an opportunity by telling potential customer unverified information. However, experienced builders can give a ballpark figure on costs. That estimate could help insure your design fits your budget. Sadly, I have seen too many people go out and spend significant amounts of money on home design only to find out they cannot afford the final product.

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Architect vs. Draftsman

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