Many clients or prospective clients automatically call me an architect. I design homes, so I must be one, right? No. I respect the requirements in place to use the title architect and always make a point to clarify that I am a residential designer. Some professionals also use the term building designer or home designer.
What is the difference? The use of the title architect is regulated. An individual must obtain a degree from an accredited university, perform an internship, and pass an exam to become a licensed architect. Once licensed, an architect can design and oversee all types of construction projects – everything from schools to commercial high rises.
A residential designer, on the other hand, strictly designs homes. The problem is, there is no regulation for the term “residential designer.” I may be in the minority among my peers, but I wish such regulation did exist. Unfortunately, any drafter that feels confident in their abilities to draw a set of house plans or blueprints can decide to call themselves a designer. This creates a great degree of variation in the quality of design and services provided as well as pricing by non-licensed designers.
If I could turn back the clock 30 years, I would follow the licensed architect path. At the time, I knew my passion was strictly for home design. I did not see the reason for investing the years into a process that would allow me to design things I knew I never wanted to design. I now know it would have been worthwhile for the professionalism the title implies – not to mention not having to continually explain why I do not call myself an architect!
So, what have I done instead to establish myself as a trusted, upper-level residential designer? First and foremost, I have worked hard. I am a Certified Professional Building Designer. I was awarded this designation after taking and passing the exam given by the National Council of Building Designer Certification. After attending Central Missouri State University for Architectural Design and Drafting, I began a career working for home builders and designers until becoming independent in 2006 with the founding of Design DCA. My time working directly for builders as both a designer and a construction manager has given me the ability to use my talents to design beautiful, unique homes that utilize traditional materials and practices for successful, uncomplicated construction.
For your new home project, which should you choose – a residential designer or an architect? I would suggest that instead of worrying about the title, concern yourself with the completed work. What matters is the experience, the portfolio, and the references. I have honed a natural design ability over the years to create a portfolio of completed, multi-million dollar homes, and a list of satisfied clients. Take a look at our work. If you like what you see, then choose Design DCA – an award-winning, residential design firm with a long track record of creating beautiful dream homes and pleasing clients.