Architect vs. Architectural Technologist: Which Should You Choose?

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Are you looking for a professional to help you plan a renovation, construction, or expansion projectBoth architects and architectural technologists are trained to help with these tasks; however, the right one for the job will depend on your specific needs. Let‘s explore the differences. 

Education and licensing requirements  

A professional technologist has diploma in architectural technology and is a member of the Order of Professional Technologists of Quebec (l’Ordre des technologuesprofessionnels du Québec; OTPQ). 

 A professional architect has an architecture degree, has trained with an experienced architect for two years, completes 40 hours of professional development activities every two years, and is a member of the Order of Architects of Quebec (Ordre des architectes du Québec; OAQ). 

graduate student holding his diploma in his hand

A battle among orders

The battle between the OAQ and the OTPQ has been going on for years. 

The OAQ believes that only architects should have the right to create residential floorplans because they’re the only ones capable of integrating people’s lifestyles and needs into them. Architects are trained to maintain the traditions and histories of neighbourhoods and to conduct environmental assessments. 

 The OTPQ believes that its members are fully capable of helping clients with their construction and renovation projects. Technologists can also create plans, analyze space and implementation requirements, and prepare quotes.  

In any case, it’s up to you to decide which professional is best suited for your project. Focus on finding someone you’re comfortable working with that can provide the services you need. After all, talent cannot be acquired – it’s an innate gift! 

Do you need an architect or a technologist for your project?

Commercial 

If you’re looking to construct a building that will be used for commercial purposes (retail), gatherings (restaurants, daycares, schools), businesses (offices), or industrial needsyou’ll need to get your plans certified by an architect. Commercial and business constructions less than 300 sq. m. (3,229 sq. ft.) can be certified by a technologist.

Residential

Only an architect can approve multi-unit constructions over 300 sq. m. (3,229 sq. ft.) and, since 2020, single family homes over 600 sq. m. (6,458 sq. ft.)That said, very few residential construction projects are this largeImost cases, a professional technologist can work on the floorplans for your single family home. 

newhome under construction

Price differences between architects and technologists

In general, architects’ fees range between 8% and 10% of the value of your construction project. This includes all the work, making cost estimates, managing offers, and supervising the construction. The professional technologists we contacted stated that they generally charge between 1% and 3% of the value of the construction. They provide services based on their clients’ needs and develop detailed architectural designs. They can provide extra services, but costs will increase accordinglyWhile an architect’s fees may seem a lot higher by comparison, it’s important to evaluate your needs and hire the right professional for your project. 

plans architect

Can I create my own technical designs? 

Even if you have technical design skills, we wouldn’t recommend drafting your own designsThrough our experience in the field, we have learned that many of these projects end up being rejected by the municipalityIt is also very difficult to find a technologist or an architect willing to work from these plans and approve them. In some cases, it would be illegal or in violation of the code of ethics for their respective professional orders to approve them. You may have to start from scratch, which can be very frustrating if you’ve already invested hours of your time working on your designs.  

Do contractors include plans in their quotes?

Some contractors may offer to include architectural plans in their quotes. Be aware that you will still be paying for them, as the contractor will add the price they paid for the plans to the cost of the project. This approach may seem convenient but is not without risk. For instance, if you are dissatisfied with your contactor’s work and wish to terminate your contract, you will no longer have access to the plans – you will need to start over and purchase new ones. A more cautious approach would be to purchase the plans separately from the start to ensure you are not stuck with a specific contractor. 

general contractor with blue shirt and yellow helmet under the arm working on blueprints

What about structural engineers? 

If your project involves making changes to the structure of the building, such as building an addition or adding a storey, youll also need to call a structural engineers. They will calculate the impact of the change and ensure the structural integrity of your home.  

Now it’s up to you to choose the professional(s) that best suit the needs of your project. Be sure to clearly express your expectations and choose the professional(s) you feel most comfortable with. You can also contact a Renovation Advisor at 1-877-736-6360 to get some recommendations.  

Author: Yves Carignan – Drummond House Plans

Originally from Windsor, ON, Yves Carignan has a degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing from the University of Sherbrooke. In 1997, he started at Dessins Drummond in network development. In 2002he and his wife MarieFrance Roger purchased the company and have been managing it ever since. Yves is a father of three and spends his free time practicing hockey, golf, and cycling. He also enjoys going on walks and taking trips.