The Difference Between an Architect and a Draftsperson

Architect vs. DraftspersonThe terms architect and drafts person are often used interchangeably, but each professional has a distinct set of qualifying requirements and job duties that make them different. In many projects, both professionals will shepherd the creation or renovation of a building to its completion, but each will carry out different job tasks.

An architect often is responsible for the conceptual and artistic aspect of designing or renovating a building. When a client or government authority meets to plan a building design, an architect is usually the professional with whom they meet. During their meeting, an architect will determine what the client wants and create the conceptual drawing that goes to a draftsperson for physical rendering.

Usually, an architect will specialize in certain types of buildings; working in hi-rises, landscaping, historic renovation or other niche design type. As they meet with clients, the architect works to determine what type of structure will meet the client's needs and their budget. During this planning phase, it is important for the architect to skillfully blend the artistic aspects of building design with the practical considerations of zoning and money restrictions.

Architects are required to complete training and educational requirements in addition to licensing requirements in order to use the title "architect." Professional architects need to have a healthy mix of artistic creativity and real-world design skills in order to make their client's needs a reality. In some cases, the architect will be part of the entire process of construction and in others they will only provide the concepts; leaving it to others to complete the actual process of construction.

Like an architect, a draftsperson often creates architectural drawings that display internal and external features of a project. Many times the draftsperson is responsible for taking an architect's ideas and rendering them into concrete plans for construction. Often, a draftsperson will work as a member of a team, using computer-aided design (CAD) programs to create 3-D renderings of a structure, drainage systems or landscaping.

The draftsperson is responsible for working with other specialists that include engineers, building inspectors or even town planners to ensure that the planned structure meets all local and state code requirements. If the construction group does not have a designated project manager, the draftsperson will fulfill the function of managing the construction project from the time that plans are written until construction is completed.

As the project develops, the draftsperson will often be responsible for selecting construction materials, as their training and expertise is often needed to make the architect's "dream design" become a realistic structure. As the draftsperson works to select building materials, they will also be responsible for making sure that the supply and labor costs associated with the building materials are feasible for the project.

Sometimes a draftsperson will specialize as a building designer. A building designer's duties include designing and preparing building plans directly on behalf of a client. In some cases, the building designer will function as architect as well as draftsperson. During the construction phase, the building designer will have an increased responsibility to liaise with the other professionals who are concerned with the project. These professionals can include builders and surveyors, electrical, hydraulic or mechanical consultants, or structural and civil engineers. All of these professionals work independently, but the building designer is responsible for ensuring that the input from each outside professional is considered and included in the progress of the building.

A successful draftsperson will have a selection of skills that make them adept at translating plans into reality. Often, these skills include an ability to draw neatly and accurately, even in freehand. They will need to have an eye for detail, particularly when measuring the dimensions of a building and its surrounding landscape. Since much of modern architectural work is done with CAD programs and in 3-D rendering, it is important that a draftsperson be proficient in using technology. A draftsperson is responsible for carrying out the practical aspects of building construction, so they are trained in mathematical skills including geometry, algebra and trigonometry.

While the work done by an architect and a draftsperson often overlap, the training required for architects requires additional education as well as licensing. While the architect is often called to blend the practical with the artistic, it is the draftsperson who is responsible for seeing that the client's wishes are carried out on a day to day basis.