Let’s explore why a residential designer is the professional you need to enrich your new build experience and deliver floor plans that rival those of an architect!
Floor plans are dreamy stuff.
Even as a kid, I spent hours drawing lines and symbols on pieces of paper, trying to capture that fuzzy image of the perfect house in my head.
When I enrolled in college, there was no doubt in my mind – architecture was my destiny!
But I learned later that I didn’t just want to create an empty home for someone to live in.
I wanted to design THE home. The one that would take all their personal wishes, hopes and plans and turn them into hundreds of square feet of magnificence, intentional design, light, and harmony.
To achieve this, I also majored in interior design and became NCIDQ-certified (National Council for Interior Design Qualification).
Over the past 20 years, I’ve explored all avenues of design but my true love is residential design.
In my industry, I’m considered a building or residential designer (or even home designer).
WHAT DOES A RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER DO?
A residential designer creates innovative, structurally-sound, meticulously designed floor plans for your future new home, after carefully considering your priorities, lifestyle needs and budget.
Residential designers use computer-aided design and drafting tools to create their blueprints. During the design process, they ensure that the floor plans meet zoning regulations and building codes, as well as examining structural and environmental factors on your unique plot of land.
IS A RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER THE SAME AS AN ARCHITECT?
Let’s take a look at the difference between an architect and a residential designer.
To qualify as an architect, you must earn an Architecture degree from a school accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB), complete an internship program and pass an exam issued by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Then, you can apply to be a licensed architect in the state of your choice.
A residential designer has a similar skill set as an architect but does not have an architectural license. In my home state of Utah, for example, I’m allowed to prepare a plan and specification for one or two-family dwellings as well townhouses (Utah Architect Licensing Act 58-3a-304 Exemptions from licensure).
TYPE OF PROJECTS
You will find that the type of projects an architect takes on is quite different from that of a residential designer. Architects are trained to plan and design all types of construction, for individual, commercial and government clients.
Residential designers focus on designing homes and in my case, single-family homes.
SCOPE OF WORK
An architect is frequently on-site and heavily involved in the entire building process. Architects will handle everything from the approved construction plans to the mechanical, heating and cooling, lighting, plumbing, landscaping and a bit of interior design as well.
Ultimately, they provide all the designs for all the elements of the project and oversee the build from start to finish.
A residential designer will instead focus more on the structure and the interior design elements of the home (e.g. lighting and flooring) and coordinate with the builder and other professionals during the construction process, as requested or contracted for.
For this reason, residential designers are a much more affordable option for most home-owners.
IS A RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER ALSO AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
While residential designers prioritize architecture and engineering design of a home, interior designers focus on the aesthetics.
Interior designers create beautiful, functional spaces to elevate everyday living experiences. They design the interior layout, design and decor such as lighting fixtures, flooring choices, window treatments and furnishings to create a space that suits the needs of their clients.
In many cases, a residential designer may have interior design qualifications, as I do.
So if you combine the interior design skills above with the architectural expertise of a residential designer, you’ll have one exceptionally-designed home!
SHOULD I HIRE AN ARCHITECT OR A RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER?
Often, when people are considering a new home, they only think of hiring an architect to prepare the floor plans. However, if you are building a single-family home, a residential designer may be a better fit for you.
From a cost perspective, residential designers usually charge lower fees than architects.
Also, their work will be more efficient because they are not simultaneously designing all the various construction and engineering plans – their time is entirely dedicated to creating your ideal floor plan.
Finally, they will work closely with the entire construction team to ensure that these plans are executed correctly or updated based on feedback from the structural engineer, landscape architect and so on.
When you’re ready to build your home, I encourage you to take a step back and explore the world of residential designers. Find the one who truly understands the home you dream of and the life you want to live. You’ll be glad you did.