What’s the Difference Between an Architect vs Building Designer in Vancouver?

Most Canadians get confused when it comes to differentiating between an architect and a building designer. Some of them even think that they are one and the same thing. Also, some claim that architects are better than building designers while others claim that vise versa is true. Others claim that you don’t need to hire an architect a building designer is enough. While others argue that building designers are not necessary when it comes to design. When you conduct an online search on the difference between an architect and a building designer you get mixed reactions.

Some arguments presented online explain the difference in a biased way. So, what’s the difference between an architect vs building designer in Vancouver? This article aims to explain the difference between the architect and a building designer from a professional view. We shall first understand what an architect does and their scope of work as well as the building designer. We shall also look into the difference between them.

What is the scope of work for architects?

An architect created designs for new projects, projects that require alterations, and projects that are being developed again. They use their knowledge in construction and their high skills in drawing to design a building that is safe, functional, aesthetically appealing, and sustainable.

Building Architect in Vancouver

What’s the Difference Between an Architect vs Building Designer in Vancouver?

They normally stay involved throughout the construction period. During this time, they adapt their designs according to the available budget, environmental constraints, and the client’s needs. That is why they are always part of the whole construction team.  They work closely with other construction professionals such as Civil Engineers and Quantity Surveyors to bring the project to fruition. Their typical scope of work includes:

  • Liaising with other construction professional in Vancouver to carry out a feasibility assessment of the project.
  • Liaising with other marketing professionals including real estate agents that know about the Vancouver area.
  • Coming up with designs for the building as well as highly detailed blueprints for the project.
  • Liaising with the Vancouver city planning department for approval of the drawings and applying for a building permit.
  • Preparing and presenting reports and proposals and applying for contracts
  • Adjusting the plans depending on the situation on the ground during construction
  • Being involved in a team management role
  • Having regular site visits and site meetings with the clients. This is where an architect gets to assess the progress of the project as well as update the client on the development that has taken place.

Most architects work is based in the office but he does set some time apart for the site visit. Most architects are employed in private companies but there are chartered architects that usually set up their own practice.

What is the scope of work for building designers?

Building designers work under architects and their main work is to prepare detailed drawings for architectural designs. They receive the design instructions from the architect. On a daily basis, building designers work in a draft station or use AUTOCAD to produce drawings, designs, charts, and records. They draw detailed and scaled plans for structures, buildings, and foundations based on sketches, engineering calculations, preliminary concepts, and other data provided by the architect.

The main responsibility of a building designer is to plan and layout arrangements for each room in a proposed building design using computer-aided design software. After this stage, they then determine the instructions and procedures to be followed based on the design specifications and the quantity of materials needed for the project. Their typical scope of work includes:

  • Creating a graphical representation of landscapes and buildings
  • Operate computer-aided design programs to come up with detailed designs
  • They analyze the building laws to determine their effects on the design that they want to come up with.
  • They analyze the technical implication of the design concept handed over by the architect.
  • Depending on the organization, some building designers prepare contracts, cost estimates, prepare bidding documents, and prepare technical reports for various projects under the architect’s supervision.
  • Reproduce copies of drawings on transparent paper and on blueprints
  • They keep records of design, drawings, and data collected per project

What’s the difference between an architect vs a building designer?

There are nasty arguments online regarding the difference between an architect and a building designer. However, this article only reviews the difference between them from a professional standpoint. Different people have a different experience with using an architect or a building designer for their projects. And this is what elicits different reactions when it comes to analyzing the difference between these two professionals. So what is the real difference between them?

As you have seen above, they all have different roles to play in the construction industry.

  • One notable difference is that normally the building designer works under the architect in most cases.
  • A building designer is mainly based in the office and does design work mostly. Even though he or she might go out to the field to collect data, they do so under the authorization from the architect.
  • The architect is also based on the office but he or she is the one who deals more directly with the clients in terms of communicating on the progress status of the project and discussing budget control within the project.
  • The architect is also in charge when it comes to following up on approval for the drawings.
  • The building design is mainly responsible for making sure that the blueprints produced as well as the graphical representations are accurate and meet the city’s construction laws.


The architect can conceptualize and design a structure, come up with cost estimates, liaise with other Vancouver professionals and the clients to see the project come to fruition. However, this is only viable if only one project is involved. In many cases, there is usually more than one project involved. Dealing with so many projects at the same time is a lot for just one architect. That is where the building designer comes in handy. They help the architect ensure that the project runs smoothly by carrying out the design work and other duties as explained above. Both the architect and building designer are equally relevant in any project and they all have different roles to play. The effectiveness of their working together is especially experienced when it comes to handling a big project or where there are numerous projects.

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