Is A Draftsman Cheaper Than An Architect?

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Before your custom home, remodel, or expansion begins, you’ll need technical house plans for your general contractor to follow. If you already have an engineer and a design, you’ll need a draftsperson to turn that design into a blueprint for the construction crew. If you need comprehensive services that include the technical, engineering and design aspects of your project, you’re better off hiring an architect.

Learn the difference between a draftsperson and an architect. Find out which one you should hire. Discover specialties and what you need to know to find a professional you can feel confident in.

The words “draftsman” and “architect” have become synonymous to the layman, but for that in-the-know, they are hardly one and the same. Both professions play important roles in the Australian building industry. Still, it’s extremely important to have a solid grasp on what exactly these roles are before you hire either one to work on your project.

You have made the decision to build a log or timber home. What is the next step? You know you need to design your home, but how will that plan come about? You could go directly to an architect, select an existing plan, or go to a wood home building company. If you choose the latter option, you may wonder if the company has draftsmen or degreed architects on staff? Let’s review the difference between a draftsman and an architect.

What Do Architects Do?

When deciding to pursue a job as an architect or a draftsman, it is important to consider job duties, educational requirements, and salary expectations. Architects design and build structures for others to live, work, eat, shop, and worship in. These structures can include homes, schools, office buildings, rooms, and complexes that are for indoor, outdoor, public, or private use. In addition to being in charge of the overall aesthetics, architects must also make sure structures are safe, functional, and economical. Additionally, architects are often involved in every phase of construction projects, from initial planning to project completion. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further!  MJS Construction Group  is here to help in your home builders.

Architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) tools and software, as well as building information modelling (BIM), to create construction drawings. They must be sure that these drawings follow ordinances, such as zoning laws, building codes, and fire regulations. Architects may also need to make sure that structures are accessible to persons with disabilities.

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Architects ensure that your property is built according to council standards and that your project runs smoothly. Aside from producing architectural documentation, they act as liaisons between you and your builders to ensure the construction stage runs on time and within budget.

As licensed professionals, architects are more equipped with knowledge and experience from having received significantly more training than draftsmen. This allows them to offer a wider variety of architectural services. Because of this, an architect’s rates can be higher than that of a draftsman. Some architects charge a percentage of total project cost, not including costs incurred from project management and back and forth during the preliminary design stage.

That, however, does not necessarily make an architect more expensive. Although architects do charge more for their work, the added expertise of an architect can speed up the preliminary design process, as architects can design and draw with council approval in mind and provide less risk of rejection and having to redraw plans.

What Does Draftsman Do?

Draftsmen, also called drafters, perform some of the same tasks as architects and often work with architects. Draftsmen, like architects, prepare CADD drawings. However, drafting can be applied to many other areas besides construction and architecture. Drafting can be used to create drawings of circuitry or mechanical designs. A draftsman’s CADD drawings include technical details and specifications, such as materials, dimensions, and procedures. In addition to using CADD, draftsmen also use calculators, tables, and technical handbooks.

The type of work a draftsman does depends on his or her area of expertise. For example, architectural drafters produce drawings for new construction projects. They may specialise in residential or commercial buildings or the type of material used, such as steel, timber, or reinforced concrete. Civil drafters prepare drawings for use in major civil engineering projects, such as highway and bridge construction, sewage systems, and flood-control projects. Other common drafting fields include aeronautics and electronics.

A draftsman often collaborates with architects, many times within the same architectural firm, to produce architectural documentation. Draftsmen are responsible for creating scale drawings and adding detail to an architect’s existing plans. Being highly experienced in construction, a good draftsman can also guide you through the council approval process.

Many draftsmen charge by the hour, which can make a draftsman cheaper than an architect. Note, however, that this is not always the case. Changing plans will cost extra. Draftsman rates do not normally cover council submission, so this can be another source of extra costs. Also, a draftsman might charge more for drawing complex designs.

Learn From History Or Be Doomed To Repeat It.

Modern-day confusion stems from the original relationship held between architects and draftsmen. Historically, an architect-designed a structure from scratch and then passed off their rough sketches to a draftsman to refine into workable drawings for actual builders. Originally this was all done on paper, but for a few decades now CAD has ruled the roost.

The idea was that the architect was the master and the draftsman was the pupil. By delegating grunt work, architects were able to work on more projects at the same time. Back then, draftsmen had very little to do with design decisions. Simply put, they translated the architect’s concept into a “how-to” sort of schematic. Finding the right Melbourne home builders  is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.

And Along Comes Computer-aided Drafting, Shaking Up The Program

CAD made construction drawings faster to create, easier to modify, and simpler to reproduce. With the use of templates and software-assisted engineering, draftsmen were able to design simple buildings on their own.

Over time, as draftsmen became savvier with the tools of their trade, it became common for structures to be conceptualised and constructed from start to finish without ever consulting a certified architect.

Nowadays a very small percentage of residential properties built in Australia utilise the input of an architect. The numbers vary depending on who is reporting, but the consensus is that an architect designs fewer than 5% of new single-family homes.

Stay In School, Kids. You’ll Make A Lot More Money

An architect’s educational background is considerably different than that of a draftsman. CAD is something that you study at a two-year trade school, whereas architecture requires 4-5 years attendance at a full-fledged university as well as two years of practice. Architects need to pass standardised tests issued by the government before they can become licensed and work professionally.

As you might imagine, the salary requirements for an architect are quite a bit heftier. After all, they’ve been through the wringer and back!

You get what you pay for, make sure you’re paying for what you need.

Just because an architect costs more doesn’t mean that there’s never a need to hire one. If you place a high value on aesthetics, usage of space, energy efficiency, shadowing, and showcasing a unique or artistic look, then it could very well be worth your while to invest more resources at the design phase of your project by hiring an architect.

Draftsmen do not design the homes you drool over flipping through the pages of a design magazine, and architects design them. If wowing the neighbours is more important than your bottom line, then the choice is simple. Architect all the way.

But suppose you’re happy with a slightly modified replica of a cookie-cutter design you’ve seen around the neighbourhood or you use the services of a renovation or extension company. In that case, there’s simply no reason to shell out big bucks for an architect when a draftsman is more than capable of completing the task at hand. Similarly, 98% of all home extensions can be drawn up by a draftsman.

Architect Education Requirements

Architects need at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The education and licensure requirements are much greater for architects than for draftsmen. Most architects earn a 5-year bachelor’s degree. This degree is designed for students with no prior architectural training. Some aspiring architects may also choose to earn a master’s degree in the field. Course topics in an architecture program might include CADD, architectural history, construction methods, math, and technology. Architecture students are also expected to gain work experience via internships.

All architects in the U.S. must be licensed. Eligibility for licensure includes earning a professional degree in architecture, completing an internship, and passing the Architect Registration Examination. Licenses must also be periodically renewed by completing some form of continuing education, such as classes, conferences, or workshops.

Draftsman Education Requirements

Employers prefer draftsmen with college training. Certificates, diplomas, or associate’s degrees in drafting can be earned from technical institutes and community colleges. In some cases, drafting training can also be obtained in military service. In general, topics of study can include design, sketching, and CADD. Because training varies considerably among schools, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends that students check with employers to see which type of training they prefer prior to enrolling at any school. It is important to note that draftsmen do not need to be licensed.

Salary Information

Architects tend to earn considerably more than draftsmen. In May 2018, architects, excluding landscape and naval, earned a median annual salary of $79,380, reported the BLS. Architects in the highest 10th percentile earned $138,120 or more per year.

Draftsmen salaries vary depending on specialty. According to BLS data, architectural drafters earned a median annual wage of $54,920 in May 2018. By contrast, electrical and electronics drafters earned a median income of $60,070 in the same period.

Options for Advancement

After working for multiple years, it is possible for architects to advance and become architectural and engineering managers. These jobs include greater responsibilities in terms of project coordination and employee supervision. Drafters may be able to advance their job prospects by earning a professional certification from the American Design Drafting Associations (ADDA). Drafters may become certified in a specialty area.

While architects and draftsmen share some of the same job duties, architects must complete much more postsecondary education and fulfil licensure requirements. The median salary is also higher for architects than for draftsmen.

Comparing The Cost Of Drafters And Architects

Drafters are less expensive than architects and can be better suited to smaller, simpler jobs.

Why? An architect may be overkill for a small scale renovation that is fairly straight forward.

Architects have achieved a higher level of training and provide a suite of project-based services, which is why they are more expensive than drafters.

Both professions often calculate their costs as a percentage of the total project fees. Submitting your plans to the council or creating complex plans will cost extra. Some architects charge between 12 and 15 per cent of the total project fees. There may be other costs that come in on top of this, such as correspondence, site visits and project management.

How Will A Drafter Cost Your Project?

Some factors that they will take into account include:

  • How detailed your plans are. Detailed plans cost more than preliminary plans
  • Additional charges will apply if you need to have your plans altered during your job
  • If you need help with submitting your plans to council, completing a development application or other services outside the scope of drafting alone, these will cost extra.
  • In some cases, you or your drafter will need to hire a structural engineer for some aspects of the plans.

In many cases, the quote you receive from a drafter will be a fixed price, often expressed as a percentage of the cost of the total project. For a ballpark idea of costs for some typical renovation projects, expect to be charged:

  • $2,800 for plans of a small/medium single room extension
  • $3200 for plans of a medium/large extension, adding two rooms
  • $3900 for plans of a full redesign/renovation of a large house

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What Does a Drafter Do?

Draftsmen use specialised design software to convert designs into usable blueprints and other technical drawings. They usually specialise in one of five areas, though homeowners typically only use them for their “architectural” services.

Five areas of specialisation:

  • architectural
  • civil
  • electrical
  • electronics
  • mechanical

Drafters also take the plans to structural engineers or other licensed professionals for approval if an element in the building needs special consideration.

They can also make drawings of existing buildings to apply for building permits for remodels and additions. Building permit costs or $400 to $1,700 aren’t usually included in their fees. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best dual occupancy selection to make your house a dream come true.

Architectural House & Residential Blueprint Drafters

This type specialises in residential and commercial buildings. They take designs from architects, designers, engineers and other construction contractors and turns them into blueprints for building crews to follow.

Most municipalities do not require architects or engineers to design residential construction plans for single-family dwellings. A draftsman can put your ideas down on paper at a lower cost. Always check with an engineer or architect to make sure plans to meet code requirements.

Commercial Building Draftsman

This is a type of architectural draftsperson who deals exclusively with commercial spaces. Skyscrapers, office buildings and even retail fronts are all more complex with differing code requirements from residential structures. It is typically a requirement that an architect stamp, or sign of on, all commercial plans.

AutoCAD Drafters

Blueprints used to be sketched by hand, but now the computer allows quick and accurate drawings. The latest Computer-Aided Drafting & Design (CADD) software, like AutoCAD, can do 3D renderings and drafting. This includes floor plans and elevations as well as plumbing and electrical plans to meet standards set by the International Code Council building codes.

Professional Mechanical and Detail Drafter

These pros specialise in creating technical drawings for machinery and equipment. They produce diagrams and 3D representations of things like medical equipment, earthmoving machinery and in the automotive industry.

Often, house plans will include a mechanical, plumbing and electrical plan. Though it shares the word “mechanical,” this is completed by an architectural drafter.

Civil Drafting Contractor

Civil drafters prepare technical designs and topographical maps for local, state and federal government projects that include sewers, bridges and highways.

Electrical Drafters

Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams for electricians and other electrical contractors for both residential and commercial buildings.

Electronic Draftspersons

This specialty deals with diagrams for electronics such as a computer, phone or anything with integrated circuitry.

Freelance Draftsman

When you hire an architect, you get the services of a draftsman since architects employ them. However, you can sometimes buy these services on a freelance basis.

For small and simple residential projects, hiring a freelancer can save money and time. However, make sure they are experienced in code requirements, or you risk having your plans rejected by your local building code enforcement agency. An internet search for “local building codes” will guide you to your local code office.

So when is a draftsman cheaper to hire than an architect? It all boils down to knowing what you want. If you have a detailed plan in place for your building project and you need clear drawings for your builders’ reference, hiring a draftsman can give you excellent value. However, if you value professional design input and would like to know all your design options, hiring an architect might save you more money.

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