Architect and Builder – Knowing the Difference and Who You Really Need

July 8, 2023  

When building a home, you can choose to work with an architect who designs custom homes or employ a home builder to take care of both the design and construction process.

Understanding who’s responsible for which aspects of your build will ensure you engage the right person to design your dream home.

There’s no simple answer as to which is a better option. There are many differences between the two design routes. To give you a better understanding of which option is right for you, let’s look at their different roles during the building process, from design through to completion.

The Difference Between an Architect and Home Builder

A home builder in Sydney that takes care of both the design and construction aspects of your new home essentially offers two professions in one service – a building designer and a builder. An architect prepares your design, giving specific construction details, but isn’t involved in the actual construction process. However, they will visit your building site to guide the construction operation.

A Home Builder…

  • Is a one-stop shop for building design and construction.
  • Will usually offer set designs to choose from.
  • Can  customise their standard designs if they have in-house team of building design experts.
  • Has the ability to design and custom built new homes to suit your needs, depending on their specialty and experience.
  • Will oversee the entire process. They can help resolve construction problems, manage subcontractors, track costs, handle paperwork and approvals.
  • Is a more affordable option.

An Architect…

  • Is a licensed professional with formal education and technical expertise in building design.
  • Will create a unique design specifically for your family and site.
  • A registered architect will charge more for their services due to their formal training and experience.

Factors to Consider Before Engaging a Home Builder or Architect

Choosing between an architect and home builder for your project depends on what you hope to achieve, your construction timeline and your budget.


Architects use a systematic procedure to design your home. This includes extensive upfront planning, such as site assessments and researching deed restrictions. They then develop a brief, come up with concept designs and refine those designs before developing the final design. Their expertise can add thousands to the cost of your project but it can be worth it if you’re looking for a niche, luxurious final product that makes the most of your block of land.

If you’re looking for cost savings, you can do without the services of a licensed architect for your dream home construction, especially if you are after a simpler design. Choosing new house builders in Sydney can slash the cost of your build and still deliver a high-quality custom-built home. Home builders are also more likely to be focussed on finding high-quality yet cost-effective materials and solutions for your build.

While some architects charge a percentage of your total build cost (depending on what they are responsible for), most architects charge a fixed price for their services. This is normally based on the size and complexity of your build. However, if something changes, their fees can too. So, choosing to work with a home builder can help reduce costly changes.

Read here for more information on how to build a custom home on a budget.


Because home builders offer all of their services in-house, the process is much faster. They usually have several projects on the go at one time, and this can mean faster delivery of materials and availability of tradespeople. And because home builders often offer standard designs from which to use as a starting point, they  have the finer details already sorted.

A straightforward home design often means your project can be completed faster and you can be in your dream home sooner. However, if you’re looking to build your dream home, customised to suit your need – then engaging a custom home builder could be the right option for you!

So when it comes to the approvals process, a straightforward design can usually be sent for both planning and construction approval at the same time as it’s unlikely to require design changes. However, a more tailored home that pushes design boundaries may require more changes by authorities, which can end up costing you time and money.

The look you’re trying to achieve

Whether to choose an architect or best builders in Sydney often comes down to what you are trying to achieve with your home build. Architects study both the art of science of the designing and building process. They will work with a custom home builder to make your design come to life. They can help refine your ideas and provide you with conceptual sketches to help you visualise your home design.

Home builders can also customise their designs to suit your needs and they often have display homes that can help you get a feel for the look and flow of a home.

Material selection and personalisation

Although many building designers will accommodate all of your ideas into your build, architects will push the envelope when it comes to new concepts and ideas. An architect may specify the use of particular materials or building products but it’s up to your custom builder to source the product and deal with supplier pay requests. So you need to ensure that your builder is committed to the vision set out by the architect.

You won’t be able to select your own tradespeople or shop for particular finishes or fixes with a home builder, but you may prefer not having to make those decisions and instead leave them up to a professional team.

Level of involvement

The beauty of using a home builder is that you can leave many of the decisions on those smaller details up to the experts. However, if you like to have full control over your build, it’s important to discuss this with your architect who will be using their own creative ideas and expertise to design your home.

Home Builder vs Architect – Which is the Better Option?

Whether you use choose a home builder for an all-in-one service or an architect to design and guide your project all depends on your site, individual situation, how much involvement you want to have with the project and your budget.

Your first starting point before you make your final decision should be Sydney home builder New South Homes. (Don’t live in Sydney? Here are the best custom home builders in Australia.)

From architecturally pre-designed floor plans to custom new home designs, New South Homes’ team of experts can make your vision come to life. With a focus on customer satisfaction and service, get in touch by calling 1300 527 088 to see what we can do for you.




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