Should You Hire an Architect or a Designer to Design Your New House?

Building your dream home is an exciting endeavor, but before you dive into the world of color palettes and decor, it’s important to prioritize the design process. The design of your home sets the foundation for everything else, from the zoning of rooms to the choice of materials.

Companies such as Berks Homes in PA, do a good job at showcasing houses with different designs and prices for people who are looking for a new home. But who should you hire to design your home? Should you hire an architect or a designer? In this article, we’ll explore the roles and responsibilities of architects and designers, and help you determine who is the right fit for your needs.

Understanding the Role of an Architect

When it comes to designing homes and buildings, architects are highly trained professionals with extensive education, experience, and licensing. They are often members of professional organizations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and their title of “registered architect” reflects their expertise and legal responsibility for their work.

Architects undergo rigorous education and training in design theory, engineering, project management, and building systems. They possess a holistic understanding of how buildings come together and the coordination involved in the construction process. As professionals, architects are responsible for protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

What to Expect When Hiring an Architect

When you hire an architect firm to design your new house, you can expect a comprehensive and meticulous approach to the design process. Architects have the skills to design various types of buildings, including hospitals, airports, factories, and of course, homes. Here’s what you can expect when working with an architect:

  1. Understanding Your Needs: Architects will communicate with you to understand your vision and specific requirements for your new home. They will take into account factors such as your lifestyle, preferences, and budget.
  2. Design Development: Architects will present you with computer-aided models, blueprints, and renderings of the proposed exterior design. Their designs will incorporate function, form, safety, and energy-saving features, ensuring every detail is carefully considered.
  3. Visualization in 3D: Architects have the ability to convert your ideas into detailed plans. Their strong mathematical problem-solving and logical thinking skills enable them to create aesthetically pleasing, functional, and stable designs.
  4. Supervision of Contractors: Architects are often involved in the project from the beginning, even before the contractor is engaged. They not only offer the design but also supervise the general contractor and subcontractors, ensuring the construction adheres to the design plans and building regulations.
  5. Contract Management: Architects write contracts for contractors and conduct thorough research on building regulations to ensure compliance with the building code. They oversee the construction work and monitor the project’s progress, making adjustments to the plans as needed.

Hiring an architect is an investment that ensures your new house is designed with precision, functionality, and aesthetic appeal. While their services may come at a higher cost compared to other design professionals, the expertise and attention to detail they bring to the table can greatly enhance the outcome of your project.

The Role of a Home Designer

Unlike architects, home designers are not required to have formal training or licensing. However, they often have hands-on experience in planning and designing interior spaces in architecture firms. Home designers are particularly skilled in creating modern and beautiful spaces, with a strong focus on aesthetics.

When considering hiring a home designer for your new house, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Consultation and Planning: Designers will consult with you to understand your vision and requirements for your new home. They will create residential plans and 3D visualizations of functional and aesthetic designs for the interior space.
  2. Material Selection: Designers have a deep understanding of design trends, materials, and pricing. They will assist you in selecting the right furnishings and materials to achieve the desired look and feel of your home.
  3. Permit Acquisition: Designers will handle the necessary permits required for your project, ensuring compliance with local regulations.
  4. Overseeing Construction: Designers may oversee the build and installation of their design, working closely with contractors to ensure the plans are executed properly.

Some designers also work for contractors and offer complete remodeling packages, which include the design as part of the overall price. While designers may not have the same level of technical expertise as architects, they excel in creating visually appealing and functional spaces.

The Difference Between Hiring an Architect and a Home Designer

Both architects and home designers possess the skills to design aesthetically appealing homes while maintaining safety. However, there are some key differences between the two:


Both architects and designers have the ability to create great designs. Architects, however, have a more holistic understanding of how buildings come together and the coordination involved. They possess a broader knowledge base that encompasses design theory, engineering, and project management.

Scope of Work

Architects and home designers both meet with clients to understand their vision and create blueprints using design tools. Designers focus more on the interior elements, such as the flow of spaces and material selection, while architects create detailed drawings of the entire structure, ensuring compliance with building codes.

Licensing and Insurance

One of the main differences between architects and designers is licensing. Architects undergo rigorous education and training, leading to licensure, while designers are not always licensed. Also, architects often carry liability insurance, which offers protection in case of errors or issues during the construction process. Architects may also be required for certain projects by local jurisdictions.


Architects typically charge a higher fee compared to designers. The cost of hiring an architect can vary, but it is generally around 7% to 10% of the total construction costs. If you choose to have the architect manage the project and oversee contractors, there may be an additional charge of 5% to 10%. Designers, on the other hand, often charge around 3% to 5% of the build cost.

Ultimately, the decision between hiring an architect or a designer depends on your specific needs, budget, and the complexity of your project. Both professionals bring unique skills and perspectives to the table, and it’s important to choose the right fit for your vision.

Tips for Hiring the Best Design Professional

When hiring a design professional for your new house, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Research Local Requirements: Check with your local permitting offices to determine whether you are required to use a registered architect for your project.
  2. Interview Multiple Professionals: Take the time to interview multiple architects and designers. Ask for references and samples of their completed projects to assess their skill level and competency.
  3. Verify Experience and Abilities: Thoroughly verify the experience and proven abilities of the design professional before making a hiring decision. Look for someone who can understand and implement your goals into the design.
  4. Collaboration and Communication: It’s crucial to find a design professional who can work collaboratively with you and effectively communicate your vision. Building your dream home is a team effort, and it’s important to be on the same page.
  5. Consider Your Involvement: If you prefer a more hands-off approach and don’t want to participate in the day-to-day decision-making and construction process, hiring an architect to oversee the project may be a wise investment.
  6. Value for Cost: Working with a design professional is an investment, so consider the value they can provide for the cost. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide who you want to work with and what you expect from them.

Hiring the right design professional is crucial for the success of your new house project. Take the time to find someone who understands your vision, has the necessary expertise, and can bring your dream home to life.

The Benefits of Hiring a Design Professional

While architects and designers come with a cost, their services can ultimately save you money and ensure a well-thought-out design. Here are some benefits of having a design professional on your team:

  1. Informed Purchasing: Design professionals have a deep understanding of materials, labor costs, and economical solutions. This can help you make more informed purchasing decisions and potentially save money in the short term.
  2. Avoiding Change Orders: Thorough design work reduces the need for costly change orders during construction. Design professionals spend time working through the design process, anticipating problems, and ensuring that the plans are comprehensive and clear.
  3. Code Compliance: Design professionals are knowledgeable about building codes and regulations. Their expertise can help you avoid code violations and ensure that your new house meets all safety and structural requirements.
  4. Long-Term Resale Value: Good design work is essential for the long-term resale value of your home. A well-designed house that respects its original integrity and incorporates functional and aesthetic elements will likely attract more buyers and command a higher value.
  5. Better Planning and Execution: Design professionals bring a wealth of experience and design training to every project. Their ability to plan spaces effectively, utilize light, and select the right mix of materials and colors can result in a satisfying living space that meets your needs and expectations.

While hiring a design professional doesn’t guarantee a perfect outcome, it significantly increases the chances of a well-thought-out and aesthetically pleasing design. Their expertise can save you money, time, and potential headaches during the construction process.


In conclusion, the decision to hire an architect or a designer for your new house depends on your specific needs, budget, and the complexity of your project. Architects offer a comprehensive and holistic approach, ensuring compliance with regulations, while designers excel in creating visually appealing spaces. Whichever professional you choose, their expertise and attention to detail will enhance the outcome of your project and create a home that reflects your vision and lifestyle.


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