It has been said that architects’ involvement in construction projects within the UK is roughly only 8%. That is an alarming figure.
To the average customer, architects and draftsmen may appear similar, but the two have different responsibilities as well as different skills, education, experience and legal practising requirements.
In the UK, an architect usually spends between 7-8 years earning an architectural degree and gaining sufficient qualifications to be on the Architect’s Register, including at least 2 years in practice. It is not necessary for an architectural draftsman, often known as a CAD technician, to possess a degree, a licence, or to have prior work experience or even any insurance.
Draftspeople, or CAD technicians, are professionals who are ‘skilled’ in producing computer-aided design and drafting (CAD) drawings. Simply put, it is possible for anyone to call themselves a draftsman if they can draw on CAD from home. An architecture degree requires a lot more preparation. However, this does not mean that all draftsmen are incompetent to do what needs to be done.
From designing, planning, and managing contracts to assisting with project management, an architect can be involved in a project from its inception through completion. This kind of knowledge may not be an attribute of a draftsman/ technician. Using design software, draftsmen prepare technical drawings, their experience extends to the types of work they are involved with. They often do not get involved with projects on site and lack design flair that can really add value to your project.
As a general rule, customers should consider hiring an architect before taking on any construction project, large or small. In this way, you as the customer would have more protection. Architects are legally required to hold professional indemnity insurance and in the unfortunate event something were to go wrong you have some protection in that regard.
Your architect should have sufficient cover for your project, this is one of the many requirements under the Architects Code of Conduct. Architects must comply with the requirements under the act, or they can be taken off the register by the Architect’s Registration Board.
An architect’s long training also means that they are more au-fait with the full process and the building should comply with statutory requirements, from planning to building regulations and will be constructed safely and correctly.
In light of these critical differences, it is important to make an informed decision when hiring someone to undertake a project with, it is important that this decision is not made simply on price as this could leave you very exposed in both the long and short term. Architects are trained on construction contracts and can better protect you when engaging a builder and this is often not the case with a draftsperson.
So as we say, the project is about way more than technical drawings; from understanding a and when, through to a technical knowledge of how to deal with things in the event that a specification hasn’t been followed or if something unknown crops up, through to a builder adding in extras due to lack of details in the drawing package and how to not be held to ransom to these; an architect will be able to take the stress out of this.
Oh, and As a final point on the many differences, builders that predominantly work off technician’s drawings often aren’t used to working to construction contracts and in our experience this leads to creeping price add ons during the build and since often their working practices are not challenged during the build they are less likely to comply to standards which can lead to more issues further down the line.
If figures are something that you are particularly concerned about then make sure to find out how much will an architect cost while in the planning stages of your project.