Building Designer VS Architect


“So what actually IS the difference between a Building Designer and an Architect?” This is a question I hear a lot, and rightly so. Ask anyone on any given day and you can receive a different answer. Let’s shed light on some on some of the differences, pros and cons of both.

Prices and services within the architecture/building design industries vary widely, based on the level of experience, service and quality of work provided by your designer. Which can make it hard to figure out where your money is best spent while navigating the inherent biases of the professional your talking too!

A Building Designer and an Architect are capable of providing the same scope of works. In Queensland in particular, the differences between the two can be minimal, as both a Building Designer and an Architect are required to be registered with the relevant governing body to operate professionally. All Building Designers require the relevant Qualifications, Experience and Insurances to practice in Queensland. However this is not the case in all State’s and this is where the difference can become significant. Make sure to ask these questions of any professional you’re talking to.

Architects are required to have a higher level of Education in Australia, but both must be qualified and registered in Queensland before they are able to practice.

It goes without saying, professional’s vary greatly in their level of service, experience, design and quality of drawings. This goes for both, so you should always be looking at what your goals are and what you will be getting for your money. In most cases an Architect will charge higher fees for their design and drawings, but this may not always be required for your particular project and it will certainly not guarantee a superior level of service or design. 

This can also be said for a Building Designer, as the level of experience and quality of work will be different for each professional you speak with. “Good Design” is a relatively subjective term, and can be hard to pin down. Therefore a conversation with a potential architect or building designer should centre around your goals, and how they may address your needs. Beginning with low risk services like a concept layout, or design consultation can give a taste of what’s to come, and help you better decide which professional is best for you and your project.

When trying to make a decision for your project, you should consider not only the portfolio and level of experience in similar work but also the trust factor. Can this person demonstrate the expertise and value that you need for your project? And are they someone you see yourself working well with as you move through the process of your design project. These are the intangibles that you don’t see in a typical fee proposal, but can quickly become a factor once you begin.

You should always work with a registered professional, this protects you, the client, in the unfortunate and hopefully rare cases where something goes wrong. Outside of that, carefully consider your goals, ask questions, and find the right person for the job, regardless of professional title. Once all is said and done, you’ll be glad you did. Best of Luck!

What To Consider When Renovating


If you’re a regular watcher of the popular home improvement shows on Television, It may seem like like renovation involves a bunch of beautiful people knocking it out of the park every week, and while renovating can run smoothly with proper research and planning, this is typically not an experience of the majority. These shows don’t highlight the council regulations, building approvals, construction costs, and overall design challenges that one can face during a renovation project. Let’s have a look at some of the main things to consider before embarking on the perilous journey of home renovation…

Renovate to Live, or Renovate To Sell

This can seem like a trivial question but may be the most important point to consider. Your goals should be outlined from the beginning, so you know which way to go and how to implement your strategy and budget efficiently. When designing your renovation for living, you will want to consider how you personally would like the final design to come together. What are the wants and needs of you and your family. A qualified and registered Building Designer can help you narrow down your goals and design your home in way that suits your style of living. What is your budget and how would you like to live? This is a different scenario than building to sell for profit. When looking to invest money into your property for the purposes of selling at a profit you will want to consider the wants and needs of the people you are selling too. Your budget may different depending on the return on investment and consulting with a local real estate agent is a smarter move, than designing a renovation you personally prefer.

What Council Approvals are Required

Investigating in the early stages will set you up for success and help you avoid any traps or hurdles that may stifle your attempts at designing the home you want. Researching the council regulations will help you determine what in fact you are allowed to do on your property, and whether you can actually achieve the result you are looking for. Making a call to council, or consulting an Experienced Building Designer or Draftsman will help you highlight the possibilities and potential of your property. Council regulations can affect everything from the size of your home, the setbacks and position of your home, and in some cases even the materials and entire look of your home.

Budget, Budget Budget..

In case 3 times was not enough, I’ll say it again. Budget. Did you know that approximately 80% of projects that are designed never get built. This is because home owners relish the opportunity to design and see their dream home drawn up on paper only to have a heart attack when the builder provides his first quote to build. If you are serious about building your project and making it happen anytime soon, you should be considering your budget from the very start. Disclosing your budget to your Building Designer or Draftsman straight away is always a good idea and engaging your builder early on in the process will set you up for success. While a Building Designer can design pretty close to your budget, a builder will always be more accurate. Having your builder consult on the design process will help with this, and be aware that the more detail that is applied to the plans, the more accurate a price will become. Preliminary Designs will produce Preliminary Costs.

The Design Process


Engaging a qualified and registered Building Designer is always a better option than drawing the design up yourself. While you may be pretty savvy with a pencil, the plans required for your council and builder will need to be professionally drafted. Having a professional consult on the design will in most cases provide a more functionally sound and efficient design whilst considering things like budget and council regulations. Renovations can be particularly tricky as they produce many more challenges, and much more uncertainty in terms of construction. There for the layout, and functionality of your renovation will have to work in with the existing site, and the existing building. Things like overall functionality, interior flow, use of space, ceiling heights, floor levels, connection details, plumbing etc, are all things that need to be considered and someone with the relevant experience can help guide you along the way.

The Build Process

Once your plans have been drawn and all relevant permits are issued, your now ready to build. Finding a qualified and trusted builder should be priority for any home owner. Ask friends and family for any referrals they may have, and look for a builder who is punctual, easy to deal with and knows their stuff. Working in conjunction with an experienced builder who you can get along with will always make the process easier and help you avoid the headache of problems and delays that may arise if you don’t choose wisely. You should always check your Building Designer and Builder are registered with QBCC and have the relevant licences to carry out the work whilst being insured.

Depending on the size, and time frame of the build you may want to consider where you will reside while the work is being carried out. In some case’s you may be able to stay in your home, in others you may have to vacate for a while until the build is complete or at least to a point where you are able to live at home again.


As we have seen, there a few other things to consider when looking to renovate your property, not just how much your going to enjoy kicking your feet up and sipping on a celebratory drink at the end! But with research and diligence you can pave the road for a much smoother process and enjoy the journey along the way. Consider all intangibles as well, like time, stress, budget and the overall experience itself before your jump head first into your renovation project, when its all said and done you will be glad you did.

For further advice on the potential of your property or professional design and drafting services Contact BA Design…

How to Read Architectural Plans

Architectural Drawings are an essential part of any design or build project. They are a type of Communication. Translating the ideas of the client or designer into a collection of drawings and documents that clearly and accurately outline WHAT is to be built, WHERE it is to be built, and HOW it is to be built. Architectural Drawings are the primary set of drawings that govern the construction of any new building. They provide information and specifications to not only the client, but any additional consultants required on the project. The architectural plans will be used by your Builder, Engineer, Energy Assessor, Building Certifier, Council etc… the list goes on!

Architectural Drawings can be prepared by a registered Draftsman, Building Designer or Architect. And with effective design and communication, your plans should translate EXACTLY what you are wanting to build.

But Architectural Drawings can contain a lot of confusing and complex information, so let’s breakdown what is needed in a set of Drawings and how to understand them without breaking your brain!

Architectural Drawings can typically be broken down into two stages.

1. The “Preliminary” or “Concept” Stage - This is where the client and building designer go back and forth deciding on how the design is to come together, taking into account things like your build budget and any restrictions on the property. This stage of drawings requires less information.

2. Then “Working Drawings” or “Construction Drawings” Stage – Once the preliminary design has been locked in, more information is applied to the plans. Things like dimensions, and constructions specifications are used to communicate accurately, how the design is to be built. These are the plans that are endorsed for a Building approval, and eventually the plans your builder will use to price from and construct your home. Usually, changes to the plans at this stage will incur a cost from your designer due to the extensive information that is affected by altering the design.

A typical set of Architectural Plans will contain the following:

-        Site Plan: This is a drawing of the building on your Site. The property boundaries are drawn accurately, and the location and coverage area of your proposed construction is shown in relation to the boundaries. These plans will show dimensions or “setbacks” from the boundaries, and any other site components such as Trees, Driveways, Paths, Pools etc


Site Plan Example

-        Floor Plan : This is the layout of the building itself. This will show Walls, Doors, Windows, Room locations etc. A floor plans shows all dimensions of Walls and Rooms for the Builder to set out, and is also used as the primary design reference for the additional drawings to follow. A floor plan will also contain things like plumbing fixtures, floor surfaces and anything else the builder needs to aware of before construction.


Floor Plan Example

-        Elevations : These are the External views of the building. Typically referenced as North, East, West and South. This shows what the building will look like from the outside, including windows locations, overall building heights, cladding materials and roof forms.


Elevations Examples

-        Sectional Views : Sectional Views are an imaginary “Cut” through the building. This allows the designer to show the construction components within the building. Things like Wall, Floor and Roof construction are shown. The Sectional Views will include more detailed information about the construction itself. This is also where “Details” are referenced, allowing for close up drawings of connections, and construction components that need more detail.  For example, How a roof connects to a wall or how the floor slab sits on the ground.  


Sections and Details Example

-        Additional Drawings that can be included in a drawing set, but are not essential are things like, Electrical Plan, Window Schedules, Ceiling Plans, Interior Elevations etc. These types of drawings are considered to be “Construction Drawings”, and although not essential, they are utilised to show more detail on the project, that way things like Lighting Fixtures, Window Sizes and other relevant information are communicated. This allows the client more control over what is documented, and therefore leaves less grey area come build time.

If you’re not looking at construction drawings regularly, they can seem confusing and overwhelming, but with some attention to detail you can quickly wrap your head around the project. But for those who are either struggling or just not interested in looking at construction documents, a 3D rendering can be a great tool for showing the design. Ask your Building Designer if they can provide a 3D for project, to do away with some of the headache in understanding architectural plans.

BA Design is a registered, Custom Building Design and Drafting Service based in Brisbane. We prepare Architectural Drawings and 3D Rendering for our clients, to help them achieve their project goals with ease and efficiency. Contact us if you have any questions about your project, we’d love to help.

Comparing Quotes For Building Design


So you’ve decided your ready to go. Your renovation, Extension or New Home will come to fruition! And while it’s exciting, and you want to move now, you’ll need to find the right professionals to make it happen. Before you engage your builder there are a couple of steps you need to take. Having the Architectural plans drafted will be the first one, as your builder and other consultants will need to see what you are looking to build, in order to provide advice and quotes. 

If you have engaged a Building designer or Draftsman before, you will know that prices for drafting architectural plans can vary greatly. While this can be confusing, the reality is that not all quotes are made the same, and the level of service and quality can vary greatly. Here are a few things to consider while embarking on your search for the perfect Quote. 

The level of detail in a set of plans can vary from the basic level, where the bare minimum is provided to a much higher level of detail, where more aspects of the design and construction are documented, which in theory will provide clearer communication of the design and construction, mitigating any grey area’s or aspects that can left to interpretation and can sometime’s cause issues at build time. The bare minimum, is what any draftsman or building designer should provide and this will be what is required for your certification and builder. For smaller projects like Decks, Carports, Smaller renovations and addition’s this level of detail will usually be enough. For larger projects you may wish to have more clarity, and a higher level of detail may be the right fit for your particular job. 

A standard set of working plans will contain a Site Plan, Floor Plan, Elevations, Sections and any Details required by your certifier. Additional plans can include Electrical Plans, Roof Plans, Window Schedules, Interior Elevations etc and other that you may request or your designer may suggest to make sure your design is clearly communicated to whoever is reading your plans. 

Some Designers or Draftsman will offer Bracing and Tie down plans which are required for your certification, others may have a structural engineer they work with prepare these on their behalf. 

Additionally, when comparing quotes, there a few other factors that should be considered when comparing prices. Be sure to know your draftsman’s process, and how many revisions of the design they will allow before charging for variations and amendments. This can greatly affect the costs down the line and this is why it is always good to have clear idea of what your after or make sure the design brief you give your draftsman is very concise, reducing the need for a lengthy and expensive design process. Another aspect is just purely the level of professionalism you are going to experience, as this can make the whole process much easier and pleasant. Things to consider would be the time frames your Draftsman or Building Designer will work too, The ease of communication and overall trust you can place in their hands. These aspects can make whole experience much better when comparing, and are usually worth the small extra cost.

One last aspect to consider would be the access or mediation your designer offers for any additional consultants that will be required for you’re building permit, This can include Building Certifiers, Engineers, Town Planner etc. Your Designer may offer contact information for consultants he has worked with in the past and recommends, or they may offer a total project administration service to handle the quotes and processes leading right up to achieving you’re building permit, which can eliminate the time and headache of doing this yourself.

So! Here we have outlined a few of the factors you will want too consider when comparing quotes for your project, and understand that the variances in price’s is usually related to the variances in service and quality. Always get multiple quotes, always do your research and feel free to ask your Draftsman for previous work or testimonials so that you feel at ease when engaging the right professionals for your project, you’ll be far better off in the long run and you’ll cruise though the process with ease to the end result which ultimately matters, and that’s your new build! 

Everything You Need To Know About Building A Granny Flat

Granny flats are becoming more popular throughout Queensland, and with good reason. They present a great solution to few common issues.

Some of the benefits a Granny Flat provides are opportunities for home offices, additional rental income, accommodation for elderly relatives and teenagers, travel accommodation such as Air BnB, or just extra room for guests.

And with the rise in deposits required for new homes, Granny Flats are also becoming a viable option for the Two Third’s of Millennial’s still living at home, and One Fifth expecting to live at home until they are thirty! Depending on who you are as a parent these statistics will either warm your heart or cause it to stop for a second… But catch your breath and lets continue…

As with everything in the property and building industry there are a number of things to look out for, so let’s explore some of the benefits of building a Granny Flat on you’re existing property, and what you need to know.

Brisbane City Council (and most other councils), class a Granny Flat, as a “Secondary dwelling” but you can avoid a Development Application if:

  • The Granny Flat has a maximum floor area of 80m2

  • Is more than 20m from the existing dwelling

  • Is going be tenanted by a member of the Household

A “Household” is defined as “an individual or a group of two or more related or unrelated people who reside in the dwelling, with the common intention to live together on a long-term basis and who make common provision for food or other essentials for living”.

If a Granny Flat does not adhere to the criteria above, for instance if it will be rented to another tenant outside of the household, it will be treated as a “Dual Occupancy” and therefore be subject to a Development Application.

A Granny flat is still subject to the standard planning scheme, and must adhere to the same rules and regulations as required for any other dwelling on a property. This includes Setbacks, Building Heights and Site coverage. Therefore making not every property ideal for a Granny Flat, but some of these regulations can be relaxed with certain applications made to council for a variation in the planning rules.

1 Carpark is required for a Granny flat, in addition to 1 Carpark for the existing dwelling on the property. There a few reasons for the increase in popularity of Granny Flats, one being less opportunity for developable space within Brisbane, which has coincided with Council’s relaxing the rules and regulations around Granny Flats making them easier to be approved and built which is good news for those budding property developers. There are a couple of different ways to get your granny flat designed and built.

A number of Kit Set Granny Flat designs are available to be bought “Off the shelf” however in most cases additional drawings will be required to get your Development approval or Building Approval. These will need to be prepared by a Draftsman or Building Designer, and the cookie cutter approach may not be the right solution for everyone. For a more custom approach to your design and your site requirement’s a Draftsman or Building Designer may be the better solution.

In any case, now your a little more knowledgable about your options for a potential Granny Flat and best of luck with the process! For more information visit or flick us an email at