Drafter vs Architect: What’s the difference?

When it comes to building or remodeling a home, it’s important to find the right team of professionals to meet your expectations and needs.

From finding a reliable and experienced contractor to interviewing architects, drafters, and designers it can be challenging to know who you need for a major construction project.  

One of the first decisions to make as a homeowner is whether or not to hire an architect, drafter, or both, especially as you start mapping out your budget.

And while there are some similarities in the roles an architect and a drafter play in designing your future home, their jobs are not entirely the same. Understanding the differences between the two will help you know who to hire, when, and what to expect once you get started on your project. 

Architect vs. Drafter

There are a few major differences between a drafter and an architect. An architect is responsible for creating the overall design of the building. 

Architects create a design based on required building codes, safety considerations, and the intended function of a space— as well as aesthetic considerations and the preferences of the client. 

A drafter or draftsperson produces the technical drawings and plans used by the contractor and construction team in order to build or remodel a building or home. When working with an architect, the drafter will use the architect’s plan in order to make the technical plans or blueprints for the project.

A most important difference between an architect or a drafter is that an architect is licensed within the jurisdiction where they practice. Additionally, Architects are required to be involved in the project until it is completed.

In Hawaii, the building department requires permit drawings for construction projects valued at $50K or more. These drawings must be stamped and signed by either a licensed architect or structural engineer.

The stamp provided by a registered professional is governed by the State of Hawaii licensing board.  When plans are stamped the following statement is required below the stamp: “This work was prepared by me or under my supervision.  Construction of this project will be under my observation.”  

Some architects and engineers also have the following statement: “Supervision as defined in Title XVI, Chapter 115, Section 16-115-2 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Professional Engineers, Architects and Surveyors of the State of Hawaii.”

On the other hand, a drafting company is a person or entity that provides drafting services only.  There is no license required for a draftsperson.

Drafting companies normally have relationships with either a licensed architect or structural engineer and will provide a cost to the client for these services in addition to the drafting services provided. They are not involved with the project from beginning to end. 

Knowing Who to Hire

So when it comes to remodeling or building a new home, who should you hire? Do you need  to hire both? Can you get away with hiring only a draftsman and an experienced contractor? 

It depends on the scope of your project and  the type of home being built. 

A qualified architect’s extensive education and experience means that their services are often more expensive than a drafters. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid hiring one in an attempt to save money. Architects can often provide insight and design expertise that a drafter can’t, which will save you money long term by preventing costly construction issues.

However, some projects are straightforward enough that a draftsman is perfectly capable of completing the required plans. In those situations, hiring an architect might be unnecessary. 

Things to Consider

If you are building a new home designed by a residential construction company as part of a new development, an architect is most likely unnecessary. 

Your builder will provide the plans for the home, and you might hire a draftsman only if you plan on making some personalized changes to the provided plans—like adding an outdoor kitchen, porch, or other additions not included in the builder upgrade options.

Additionally, if you are remodeling your home and the remodel is fairly simple and primarily occurring within the original footprint of the home, a drafter can be very useful in creating blueprints and plans for your new kitchen layout or bathroom renovation. 

Drafters have the skills necessary to understand the construction, electrical, and plumbing requirements for these types of projects, and can help ensure you get the results you want.

On the other hand, if you are designing a completely original home, resist the urge to save money and rely on a draftsman to design your home plan. 

Unless your home relies very heavily on existing blueprints from other homes, a drafter rarely has the design background or foundational knowledge to design a new home completely from scratch.

Similarly, if you are planning a complicated remodel that includes additions to the existing layout, an architect is usually necessary to help you make the best use of both your existing and new spaces. 

Architects are also experts in matching your new addition to the existing style of your house, which can prevent your addition from looking too obviously different from the rest of your home. 

Contact Us

If you’re wondering where to find the right professionals for your project, or you’re still not sure if an architect or drafter is right for you, it’s time to contact Home Planning Hawaii. 

We can help you determine the best fit for your project, as well as connect you with the experienced professionals  needed for every phase of construction. And don’t forget to check out our free online estimator as you get started on your budget!

Phone Number

(808) 222-4069

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Sunday - Closed


200 N Vineyard Blvd.
Ste A325 - 5145
Honolulu, HI 96817

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