What is the difference between an architect and a designer?

When it’s finally time to remodel the space you’ve been planning for ages, the choices to a homeowner can be overwhelming. One of the first questions people usually ask is whether they need an architect or an interior designer for a particular project.

Why Hire a Professional?

Both interior designers and architects are professionals who can help you plan your project based on the training and experience they have in their fields. Their skills are very different, so it’s important to keep in mind what your project goal is before you chose between an architect and a designer.

Architects

Architects are licensed professionals who design houses, office buildings, churches, and other structures. Architects can be especially helpful for complicated projects, including ones that involve changing rooflines or making large additions to historic homes. Since architects are trained in solving complex design problems while maintaining the aesthetic desired, they can usually draw plans using 3D rendering that will help visualize the finished project. All states require architects to be licensed, which provides some protection for you if the architect’s grand design has a structural issue.

That experience and training come at a cost, though. An architect usually provides a plan before any contractors are consulted. Once contractors start bidding on the project, changes are often made to fit within the homeowner’s budget. If extensive changes are made, the architect may need to redraw the original plans for an added fee.

Many architects also provide project management to make sure their plan is followed. They can choose the contractor and subcontractors, oversee the work, and control the money on a project. This will cost the homeowner an extra 5% to 10% on top of the cost of the project.

Interior Designers

Interior designers are experienced in planning and designing interior rooms in a home. This can include anything from simple additions to remodeling an entire kitchen. The designer works with the homeowner to determine the needs and wants for the intended space. Then the designer works to come up with a plan that suits the homeowner’s needs and budget. Some designers, offer 2D and 3D drafting and rendering of the proposed design. After the initial planning stage, the designer can work with the contractor to price out the project, and the designer’s final drawings are only completed after the homeowner approves the budget.

Designers can help with choosing surfaces, lighting, and furniture that fit the aesthetic of the homeowner while also fitting the budget. For kitchen and bath remodels, designers take into account use and accessibility details that homeowners may not consider like traffic patterns, electrical and plumbing layout, and the space needed for common appliances.

Some designers are also able to provide technical drawings and specifications for their designs. Some work with other professionals to ensure the client’s needs will be met, and their work can be reviewed by a structural engineer if it includes any structural changes to the intended space. If needed, they can consult with the contractor or architect to provide electrical lighting plans and other construction drawings.