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Do I Need an Architect, Designer, or an Engineer?

If you are thinking about building a home, you may have heard different titles for professionals who design houses. Which one is best for you and how are they different?

An architect has a college degree and must pass tough state licensing exams in to be called an architect. All training, education, and experience an architect undergoes focuses on aesthetic design, structures, mechanical systems, acoustics, and sustainability.

A designer has no formal training or licensing. Anyone may legally call themselves a designer. There are trade associations that a designer may belong to that require a certification process and continued education to establish credibility.

An engineer is a professional with a college degree who has passed stringent state licensing exams just as architects must do. Their focus, however, is different. Typically, engineers design buildings not intended for human occupancy such as a power plant or water treatment facility. An engineer’s focus is to make a building stand structurally sound and comfortably heated, while an architect or designer will also aim to make it attractive, functional, and interesting.

Some states require an architect or engineer to design home plans. In states where a designer may submit plans, the building inspector will still need to approve them. Many designers turn rough plans over to an architect who can provide signed and sealed code compliant plans from the designers sketches.