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Designer or Architect?

Do you need an Architect or Designer?

A lot of people ask themselves this question once they begin to look for professional services. The project budget and proposed estimate will often drive the decision of the professional hired. Every project is different and depending on the scale and complexity, there are levels of services that can be provided. The level of need will determine if you need an Architect, or if you could use a Designer.

Architects and Designers can provide most of the same services, but Designers are limited to the scale, and use of the proposed development. The "Practice of Architecture" is defined by Oregon Revised Statutes and outlines what is considered to be Architectural Services. These Services Include; Analysis, calculations, research, graphic presentation, literary expression, and advice essential to the preparation of necessary documents for the design and construction of buildings, structures and their related environment whether interior or exterior.

Designers can perform many of these same services, if the project is within the exemption guidelines listed below;

The creation of drawings or specifications for, or observing the erection, enlargement or alteration of, a building, or an appurtenance to a building, if:

  • It has a ground area of 4,000 square feet or less and

  • Is not more than 20 feet in height from the top surface of lowest flooring to the highest interior overhead finish of the structure and

  • The proposed use should be for a single family residential dwelling or farm building; or the structure is used in connection with, or auxiliary to, a single family residential dwelling or farm building, including but not limited to a three-car garage, barn or shed or a shelter used for the housing of domestic animals or livestock.


The planning, designing, specifying or observing the alterations or repairs to a building if;

  • The structural part of the building is not involved, and

  • The building code classification by use or occupancy of the building is not changed and

  • The building code classification by type of construction of the building is not changed.

Many smaller scale projects can be completed by a Designer who can provide professional services at a lower rate. If your project falls within the specifications listed above you may benefit from a Designer. If you are not sure, feel free to contact the Studio and we can talk about your needs.

Links to More Information on Oregon Administrative Rules and Oregon Revised Statutes

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