McGowan Homes Interview with Arco Design (formally Gold Coast Building Designers)

The decision to use an Architect, Draftsman or Building Designer is one of the most important choices you’ll make. As the people responsible for bringing your vision to life, they need to be on the ball, creative, good listeners and strong communicators. So just how do you choose?

We sat down with Building Designer, Will Collins, of ARCO Designs to find out what the difference is between these occupations and what to consider when choosing which way to go.

McGH: What’s a Building Designer?

AD:  Building Designers are licensed professionals with a drafting or building design qualification. They generally are very detail-orientated and have a strong understanding of how buildings are built from a practical point of view.

Most Building Designers start out working for construction companies or Architects, sorting out how the design will be built and working out the sizes of the structural members, then making sure the relevant documentation is clear and easy to read.

Building Designers in Queensland must hold a current license with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and can be members of the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ).

McGH: What are the advantages of using a Building Designer?

AD: I will preface this by saying these are generalisations! But, some of the main advantages of Building Designers that we’ve found are:

  1. They are often practical in their understanding of construction and as such, often able to work very closely to a budget, delivering a project within financial scope
  2. This practical understanding also means their designs are logical, work to the brief and most importantly, actually possible to build.
  3. They are usually competitively priced, sitting between Draftsmen and Architects.

McGH: What are the disadvantages?

AD: Building Designers are often not formally trained in design, so can be lacking in that area. However, they can be self-taught, or gain practical experience with the people they work with.

That said, if you go down the Building Designer route, it is worth doing your research prior to choosing – you need to study their websites to make sure their standards are universally high, read the testimonials and possibly get referrals.

In some cases, opting for a Building Designer means you miss out on the chance to market your home as ‘architect designed’, potentially losing value. However, the exact value is a bit of a grey area.

McGH: What are the advantages of Architects?

AD: Architects are formally trained in design at a university, so the standard of design is generally pretty high. As mentioned before, there is also a perceived re-sale value when selling an architect-designed home, meaning your investment early on could really pay off down the line.

McGH: What about disadvantages?

AD: The most obvious is that they are usually more expensive than a Building Designer or Draftsman, with the fee being around 10% of the build cost, instead of 4% to 8%. However, this investment sometimes pays off, proving you’ve chosen a great Architect!

McGH: What should clients look out for when researching?

AD: Always check out a Building Designer or Architect’s website. If they don’t have one, consider that a warning sign. The same goes if they don’t have many finished houses in their portfolio or don’t use 3D CAD.

As a leading Builder on the Gold Coast, McGowan Homes has experience liaising with Architects, Draftsmen and Building Designers. Whatever route you choose, we can help bring your vision to life!

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