5 Misconceptions About the Design Profession

Misconception # 1 Difference between architect and designer.

This is really a clarification, what is the difference between an architect and a designer? Well, here you go. An architect carries a license and generally concentrates on large commercial and publicly owned projects. These projects include schools, hospitals, fire departments, high rises, etc. Designers, on the other hand, perform virtually the same services, yet in the specialized field of residential and smaller commercial design.

Once I completed my six-year internship in pursuit of becoming a licensed architect, I changed course and decided to become a professional building designer. This gave me the opportunity to work one on one with people, helping families and entrepreneurs make their dreams become a reality. My joy comes from the feeling that I can make a difference in people’s lives. I really help people – not only in the moment, but for years to come. That is what made me fall in love with this avenue of design and why I am so passionate about it to this day.

As an architect, you deal more with committees and bureaucracy. Some projects today require that we re-enter that realm but getting to work with families and entrepreneurs is what makes our job so great!

Misconception # 2All building designers are licensed, Right? 

This is not true. Although many professional fields require an individual to have a license, there are currently no licenses required for designers in Oregon. Does this mean you cannot find a professional designer who is completely qualified and has the expertise to design your dream home or project? No, it does not. As you will see from some of the answers we’ve provided, it’s possible. In fact, there are some highly qualified, professional designers. But how do you find them? The process will take some work on your part since there are at least as many, if not more, “design professionals” that do not have the years of experience or expertise to satisfy the needs of their clients. Sadly, some are more interested in their bottom line than the needs of their client.

I have seen some designers that have been in business for many years, but have not continued to grow in knowledge, or keep up with technology, trends, and construction law. Some even seem to get bored with the whole process and are no longer giving it their all. With so much of your hard-earned money on the line, we believe a designer MUST keep building on their knowledge. We have made it our practice to devote over a month’s worth of time each year to continuing education. We feel this is a crucial part of a designer’s job if they intend to take good care of their client and treat their client’s financial investment as if it were their own.

Misconception # 3 – Plans submitted to the building department by architects, designers or plans with an engineers stamp are never rejected!

Big misconception. Believe it or not, the building departments in this area report that initially, they reject 67-75% of all plans submitted to them. These include plans created by architects, engineers, and designers. Why? Mostly due to wrong or missing information, in other words, they are incomplete and inaccurate. Inaccurate how? Here is one example; did you know that the building codes change every 3 years? Even more than that, every week new interpretations and rulings go into effect by the State Building Codes Division. Early on, I tried to keep up with these changes, but the fact of the matter is, if you are not a building inspector or plans examiner, you will not be informed of these important changes until your plans are rejected or worse, the errors get missed until after they are built and paid for, then the building inspector catches it in the field after the fact.

Even though these errors slipped past the plans examiner, the law requires that the violation must be torn out or corrected. Generally, this ends up coming out of homeowner’s, (in other words, your) pocket. So, what do you do? In my case, there was a solution. I had the education and experience required to take the state license exams. I did so and received my certifications for both building inspector and plans examiner, State of Oregon, in 1994. Currently, our office is well versed in the following building codes: The IRC, IBC, OSSC, OPSC, OMSC, OEESC, IFC, UFC, and UBC. In layman’s terms, almost all the building codes used in the western United States.

This specialized knowledge has become one of the greatest benefits we can offer our clients, and why we are willing and able to offer you an unconditional 100% money back guarantee. We guarantee that the plans we provide will pass the rigorous requirements of the building department. I am unaware of any other designer, architect, or engineer who offers this guarantee.

Misconception # 4Purchasing plans from a magazine or via the internet will save you money?

Far too many people have learned the hard way that their super-duper deal on plans has ended up costing them thousands of dollars in construction and other costs, assuming they are not totally rejected by the building department, as we considered in Misconception #3. This cost could be due to many factors: one, most stock plans are out of date and two, it is standard practice to market these plans outside the region they were designed for. In other words, not designed for the latest code requirements nor for the area where the house will be built!

Misconception # 5All a professional designer really needs to provide you with, are plans capable of getting a permit?

Although many designers do just that, it is not what we feel a professional designer should do. Our job is not just to prepare workable drawings: it’s to provide a level of service that carries you and your family step by step through literally hundreds of decisions that must be made during the design process, and then aid you and/or your contractor in wading through the red tape of the plan submitting process down at the building department and beyond.

If you elect our full-service package, we will be with you through the entire process, from helping you locate the home on your lot to suggesting which building materials are best suited for your project, helping you to refine the design so it functions the way you and your family will live in the home, and even down to helping you choose a quality building contractor. Should questions arise during construction, as they always do, we are there for you. In general, we are with you from the design concept to the dedication party.