26 Oct 2010

You Need an Architect When…

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I’ve heard every raging battle about whether you need an architect or a designer. An architect is more experienced, but a designer costs less. An architect sees the big picture, but a designer has real-world experience. An architect organizes multiple design disciplines, but a designer is fast. An architect is busy, but a designer is easier to find. An architect is creative, but a designer is practical. And the list continues endlessly, but I say “Stop the madness”. Quite simply, you have to pick the right professional or designer for your specific project. It’s deciding who or what you want, but sometimes the law requires an architect for projects of a certain size or scope and you need to know which ones to keep yourself safe and the designer out of trouble.

I can’t speak for other states, but the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) developed a handy flow chart to help owners, architects and designers understand their roles. Texas law requires an architect for:


  • an institutional residential facility (nursing home, assisted living, detention center, etc.)
  • any public building used for education, assembly or office occupancy
  • any new public building where construction costs exceed $100,000
  • any alteration to a public building where construction costs exceed $50,000
  • any alteration to a public building that involves relocating, removing or adding walls
  • any building more than two stories tall
  • any building more than 20,000 square feet
  • any multi-family building with more than 16 units


Despite the succinct flow chart, I’m a bottom line person and the easiest way to simplify the rules and quell the debate is to remember this…


an architect can design ANY built project, but an unlicensed designer cannot. Follow the rules… follow your head… follow your heart.


About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.