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Building Designer

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2018: 25,001 to 50,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1201 to $1500 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief Building designers play a central and defining role in the aesthetics, functionality and design documentation of much of the built environment.

There are approximately 100 building designers registered with the Building Designers Association of South Australia. Majority of South Australian registered building designers are males and mainly employed in the Property and Business Services industry.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Building Designer

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The role of building designers and architectural drafters covers a wide range of professional services including: site evaluation; feasibility studies; interpreting plans, regulations and codes of practice; conceptual design; design development; council submissions; supervision; project management; and contract administration. Building designers are integral to each of these processes.

In South Australia approximately 85% of the work of building designers is within the residential sector and 15% within the commercial sector. Most of the residential design work relates to design of new homes or major renovations. Most of the commercial design work relates to low to medium rise developments of the kind associated with development along Greenhill Rd. (The statistics for architectural firms are generally the reverse, with 85% of the work likely to be large commercial projects and 15% for private residential housing.)

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Education Requirements

Entry into this occupation is generally through a Certificate IV or higher qualification. For those interested in the construction side of building design, you may want to consider doing courses in both building design and engineering. Interior design courses may also be of value. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers the following courses to help you find employment in this occupation: Certificate IV in Residential Drafting and Diploma of Building Design.

Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as AutoCAD Introduction. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

Career Path

Building designers and architectural practice design teams often specialise in a particular area of design or construction, from houses to hospitals, shopping centres or sustainable communities, or the restoration of religious buildings. Anything that can be built, a building designer can specialise in. However, designers aren't necessarily limited to their area of speciality as many start in one area and move to another, or continually take on a variety of projects. They work primarily in offices but also spend time on building sites, working regular hours, although extra hours may need to be invested in order to meet project deadlines.

Various employment avenues exist for building designers, such as working for design firms, consultancies, government departments, residential developers or self-employment. With experience, building designers may move into senior management positions. Those with their own consulting firms usually have extensive business experience. Demand for building designers is currently strong; however, fluctuations in the economy affect the work available. Industry bodies forecast continued good opportunities for people dedicated to their craft.

If you're interested in becoming a building designer, practice drawing and design and building things. Try replicating houses or buildings and making them more eye-catching. It may be useful to phone a building designer to talk to them about their job. Read books from the library and the many architectural magazines you can find at newsagents. Also surf the Net to learn as much as you can about this exciting and evolving occupation. As far as technical skills are concerned, computer skills are of central importance. Graduates with strong CAD (computer-aided design) skills, both 2D and 3D, will find their employability greatly enhanced. Building designers also need to be able to visualise ideas in three-dimensional form, and have good problem solving, organisational, supervisory and communication skills.

Nature of the Job

To be a building designer requires creativity, imagination and an understanding of materials and construction. One industry professional sheds some light on how he feels upon the completion of a building: 'It’s a real achievement when you create and complete a building that someone lives or works in and enjoys’.

The experienced building designer and client go through a series of steps to arrive at the desired space or building. The first phase informs the building designer of the goals of the owner and the boundaries of the project. It includes collecting and organising the information and ideas that will drive the project. It is important that the client expresses their desires for the project, which in turn enables the designer to learn the functional requirements and the imagery and style desired by the client. Building designers will then go through a series of steps to bring the project into focus.

Typical Physical Working Environment

The first of these steps is writing an architectural brief, which involves the listing of the spaces, their sizes, functions and the type of space that would best suit their use according to the requirements of owners and users. For example, an owner may wish to have a home office and prefer for this to be centrally located within the home. The building designer would then produce a set of diagrams to present a clear and logical order to plan the form of the building. Then, to give the owner an appreciation of what their concepts will become, the designer may present a series of sketches, or computer generated images of the proposed buildings, and sometimes models. Building designers estimate construction costs throughout the design process. The owner can then add or subtract from the design according to their budget. The building designer must heed council planning and design regulations to ensure planning approval for the project at this point.

Typical Occupational Example

Once this stage has been approved, building designers can provide the owner with a series of construction drawings including floor plans, elevations, and sections. Once final adjustments are made and with the client's approval, the building designer can then complete the construction documents. Once these documents have been approved by the council building surveyor they provide builders with the information required to cost the project and to construct the building. They indicate all the dimensions, details and materials to be used. If required, building designers can provide help with the terms of the building contract and then provide follow on site supervision.

For further information, contact:

Building Designers Association of South Australia
PO Box 10193, Adelaide BC SA 5000
Ph: 1800 423 272

Construction Industry Training Board SA
5 Greenhill Rd, Wayville SA 5034
Ph: (08) 8172 9500
Fax: (08) 8172 9501

Australian Institute of Architects (SA Chapter)
PO Box 3420, Rundle Mall SA 5000
Ph: (08) 8402 5900

Building Designers Australia
PO Box 592, HRMC NSW 2310
Ph: 1300 669 854
Fax: (02) 4968 9981

Earning Potential

Salaries begin around $35,000 per year. Those in senior management or with extensive experience can earn $50,000 or more.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online