The majority of homes are designed by a building designer, ie. a person who has been trained in building design. Many belong to the Building Designers Association which means they are obliged to adhere to the Association's code of ethics, professional standards and professional development requirements. Some Association members are architects but generally building designers are not architects.
The Building Designers Association has offices in every capital city and can supply the names and contact details of their members in your area. Some designers specialise in Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) and the Association encourages all members to undertake professional development in ESD.
You can vary the designer's input to suit your needs and budget. They can do everything from just drawing up the plans to creating the whole design concept.
You have expert advice to avoid costly mistakes and simplify the Council's Development Application process.
The designer's charges are usually a set fee according to the work required and can be negotiated before the design is commenced. This makes it easier to contain costs.
Engaging a member of the Building Designers Association provides greater security in terms of the quality of work done.
There are costs involved and the better, more experienced designers may be more expensive to engage.
Typically the designer will work with your ideas to create the final design. If you have little concept of what you really want and are looking for a lot of input from the designer, choose one of the more creative building designers or an architect.
Things to keep in mind
Choose a designer that is experienced in the type of work you are looking for. For example, a designer who draws plans for industrial units is unlikely to succeed at designing your seaside dream home.
Check the designer's past work and discuss your ideas with them before engaging them. Irrespective of their experience and ability, if they don't think along the same lines as you, the design process will be frustrating and ineffective, rather than enjoyable and exciting.