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Lucia Di Sclafani

by Lucia Di Sclafani Content Manager | RenoAssistance

Reno Blog / Advice / Architect vs. Architectural Technologist: Which Should You Choose?
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Architect vs. Architectural Technologist: Which Should You Choose?

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You need a plan for a construction or renovation project, such as an addition, and you wonder what kind of professional should do it? Architects and architectural technologists have overlapping skills and knowledge, like drawing up plans, however, there are certain skills that only architects can offer you. To demystify the nuances between the two, read on!

The Biggest Difference: Schooling and Skills

A university degree is required to become an architect, while only a college level diploma is required to become an architectural technologist. There is therefore a significant difference in not only the training of a technologist and an architect, but also the skill set. Technologist training is focused on the technical side side of building, with courses aimed to teach how to draw and build models, understand building codes, etc. A bachelor’s degree in Architecture deepens this knowledge by taking into consideration elements of design, such as lighting, environment and history of a building or a neighbourhood. Both professions are self-regulated, thanks to associations that have been granted the ability to do so. In Ontario, these are the Ontario Association of Architects and the Association of Architectural Technologists of Ontario. In Quebec, there is the Ordre des architectes du Québec and the Ordre des technologues professionnels du Québec. In both provinces, architects are required by law to have liability insurance to protect themselves and their work, while architectural technologists do not.

graduate student holding his diploma in his hand

Battle Of The Professions 

In Quebec, there are differing opinions on the responsibility of each profession in terms of the aesthetics of Quebec homes. Architect associations argue that only an architect should have the right to draw plans for a home, as they are uniquely qualified to draw a plan that will meet the lifestyle and the needs of homeowners. Architects are trained to take into consideration the traditions, history, and environmental factors/needs of your neighbourhood.

Conversely, architectural technologist associations argue that Quebeckers are not very concerned with architecture, and therefore are not willing to pay for the more in-depth research that an architect would offer when it comes time to plan a house. As they are trained to understand the technical needs of building a home, many clients may consider that knowledge sufficient for their project. 

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The Architect’s Prerogative

With the additional training and skills of an architect comes a larger scope of responsibility. In Quebec, technologists cannot draw up plans for every type of building, like commercial ones. Even if it’s as simple as a small daycare centre, all commercial projects must be overseen by an architect. Furthermore, technologists cannot sign off on plans for residential projects exceeding 2 stories or 3200 ft2. In Ontario, technologists can do certain types of commercial projects, such as those listed in Section 9 of the Ontario Building Code, as long as the project does not exceed 600 mor 3 storeys. Additionally, a Licensed Technologist OAA can bridge the gap between the two professions – they are able to practice architecture with certain terms, conditions and limitations. . 

newhome under construction

The Client Is Always Right

…Or almost always! For a project that can be done by a technologist, it really comes down to the preference of the client, based on their priorities. If cost is important, a technologist will of course be less expensive, however, you are then limiting the detail and scope of research being done for your project when it comes to design. 

If you are putting an addition on a heritage home, for example, your priorities will likely shift to maintaining the history of the building and the neighbourhood. Therefore, you will likely be willing to spend the money on hiring an architect, to ensure the project maintains the integrity of your home and environment. 

Price Difference

In terms of cost, in Quebec, plans for a project like a home addition done by a technologist will cost around $2000, while you would likely not be able to get plans done by an architect for less than $4000. In Ontario, an architect’s fee will be between 10% and 20% of the project’s total cost.

Though an experienced architectural technologist could possibly draw the plans for a 5000 ftcharacter home in Yorkville, an architect would have additional skills that would get the most value out of that type of project. The difference between a beautiful home and an “architectural home” is in the details — details that take time and research to accomplish, but that are the cornerstone of such a “researched” design. This is where the additional investment in the skills of an architect are well worth it. 

plans architect

Penny-Pinching Plans

If you have technical drawing skills, and you would like to draw up your plans yourself, let us be the first to tell you it’s not that easy! Our experience has shown us time and time again that these plans are rarely approved by the city, and it is rather difficult to find an architect or technologist that will be willing to work with these plans and give them their seal of approval. Essentially, you will likely end up wasting time and energy on plans you have to scrap, and have to start again with a professional anyways.

Plans Provided By The Contractor

Certain contractors may propose to include plans in their quote, but note that the cost of getting these plans drawn by a professional will be included in the total quote. The disadvantage of this option is that you will not be able to have the plans in hand to help you get competitive quotes from various contractors. You will be stuck with the quote of the contractor who served as an intermediate to have your plans drawn.

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

What About Building Engineers?

Depending on the complexity of your project, like in the case of a storey addition, budgeting for the services of an engineer on top of those of your chosen professional can be necessary.

How To Pick Your Architect, Technologist & Co

As each professional has their specialty, and personality, it may not be easy to make the right choice. With years of experience under our belts, we have have extensive knowledge of different experts and after discussing the specifications of your project with you, our Renovation Advisors will be able to guide you towards the best technologists, architects and structural engineers for your needs. Call us or fill out our form today – it’s at no cost or obligation to you!

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