CapeBuff

Architectural Degree Required?

Recommended Posts

Hello,

I am contemplating whether or not I should start a residential design business using CA. I do not have a degree, but I do have 30 years of experience estimating for the concrete foundation and flatwork trades. I have generated over 6,000 estimates for both residential (90%) and commercial (10%) projects using Autodesk Design Review (read-only software, but it utilizes commands in much the same way as CA).

I have 2-3 hours daily that I could devote to learning CA (Dan Baumann courses...???) for however long it takes to become proficient (I'm in no hurry, but would hope to be at that point within 3 years....realistic?). My only concern is calculating design loads, I do not have the necessary education to perform that task. So.... I was hoping to get some advice from the experts, do I need to get an architectural degree (not required for business in my state) so that I can calculate/place loads? Is there software available that will do the calculating (I'm not opposed to getting a degree, I'm just looking at any and all possibilities)? I was told by a few people that they just send it to the lumber yard for calculations, but then wouldn't you be required to redraw/revise once you have that information (that would seem counterproductive to me...)? What do you do??

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi:

 

no, an architectural degree is not required to run a business using Chief Premier

 

I had zero training except as a software analyst/programmer and my partner had an art degree 

 

we ran a fairly successful design business - but we did design work and did NOT sell ourselves as architects

 

we worked with builders and remodelers to create plans with pretty pics and detailed cad drawings based on THEIR specs

 

they signed and submitted the permits

 

for a few homeowners who acted as their own GC's we acted as trainers

 

it is very important not to oversell your services and skills due to liability issues

your contract should contain disclaimers as to what you are and what you are NOT responsible for

 

I had to include a disclaimer that if the client printed our plans then they had reviewed and found them acceptable

 

If you want to - give me a call at 716  545  7101 and I can discuss more with you

 

I am now retired due to health reasons but my partner/friend is still active part-time

 

Lew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Design all you want but when it comes to "loads" on members (floor, roof, wall etc.) hire a structural engineer.  Also learn the building code and any zoning codes in your area.  Then hang your sign out there.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would strongly suggest you check with the planning department within the jurisdiction you will be operating in "and" any State statutes governing this. Here, the province has a separate Building Code Act that specifically defines the required qualifications of those offering design services to the public, it's fairly complex and varies according to the type, size and scope of the building project. On top of this each city planning department has their own requirements for permit submissions. You need to be cautious when interpreting these requirements, for example, though a municipality may not require stamped drawings for permit submission the State Statue may require that all persons involved in the preparation of the drawings hold a specific professional designation.

 

Initially this is likely going to appear discouraging however, you need to keep in mind that they are mostly looking for who is going to take responsibility for what is in the drawings and not necessarily who prepares the drawings. For example, you can prepare the structural drawings but if you are not a Structural Engineer you will need to find a Structural Engineer who will review your drawings and sign off on them. Now the Structural Engineer assumes responsibility, not you.

 

Understanding this is also important so that you don't when promoting your business misrepresent, intentionally or unintentionally, who and what you are.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TheKitchenAbode said:

I would strongly suggest you check with the planning department within the jurisdiction you will be operating in "and" any State statutes governing this. Here, the province has a separate Building Code Act that specifically defines the required qualifications of those offering design services to the public, it's fairly complex and varies according to the type, size and scope of the building project. On top of this each city planning department has their own requirements for permit submissions. You need to be cautious when interpreting these requirements, for example, though a municipality may not require stamped drawings for permit submission the State Statue may require that all persons involved in the preparation of the drawings hold a specific professional designation.

 

Initially this is likely going to appear discouraging however, you need to keep in mind that they are mostly looking for who is going to take responsibility for what is in the drawings and not necessarily who prepares the drawings. For example, you can prepare the structural drawings but if you are not a Structural Engineer you will need to find a Structural Engineer who will review your drawings and sign off on them. Now the Structural Engineer assumes responsibility, not you.

 

Understanding this is also important so that you don't when promoting your business misrepresent, intentionally or unintentionally, who and what you are.

THIS!!!!⬆️⬆️⬆️

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a building designer on the central California coast. In this area there are a few restriction on what you need an Architectural license to design. Basically you only need that licence to design a residence over 6400sqft of commercial over 1000 sqft. However I have gone over those limits and not had an issue. The important part is that a structural engineer sign off. There is no way around that one and for good reason. Even an architect has no business preforming complex structural calculations unless they also went to school to learn the math required to assess force loads, which is not an in depth part of the architectural curriculum. 

I could go of on a long tangent here but basically I suggest "De Architectura" by Marcus Vitruvius Polio (of Vitruvian man fame). He lays out a very clear case for a building designer to be a structural engineer, general contractor and designer before they can call themselves Architect (Greek for Master Builder). It makes a lot of sense because you have to know what you are building with, the material availability and the labor force before you finalize a design. But that was in Augustus's Rome. With the complex nature of supply, labor, design and structural suitability required of today's buildings each aspect must be delegated to professionals in their respective field.

Basically my advice is that it is great that you have a solid knowledge of materials and construction. Focus on designing the space, that is a difficult enough task, let an engineer do the rest (and accept the liability if it falls down).   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've run a design/build business and then design only business for the last 40 years in MA.  I do all the design and have a structural engineer stamp the structural plans.  For a simple addition it costs about $500, for  a complicated house it could run a couple thousand.  Very few architects I know stamp their own plans around here, they all hire engineers.  In some cases, the building inspector will require an engineer even if the Architect stamps the drawings.   It's good to understand loads, so you can design stuff that is easily engineered.  For example, it's good to be able to read span tables to figure out how deep your joists should be, so you can set your floor levels correctly and not have to go back and change stuff if the engineer says you need deeper joists, etc.   CA is just a tool, so knowing the program doesn't mean that you will be able to design houses that work on a functional and aesthetic level.  For example, knowing how to use a table saw does not make you a cabinetmaker.  So while it's good to think about what tools you want to use, I would really focus on how you are going to learn how to design.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Alchemyjim said:

Basically you only need that licence to design a residence over 6400sqft of commercial over 1000 sqft

 

We have a similar statement in our Building Code Act but within the Act there are numerous other requirements that impose qualification requirements on those providing design services on buildings of lesser size. Just suggest that one reviews the entire Act or Statute to make sure they fully understand all of the implications.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a bachelors degree in Construction Management and a vo-tech degree (during high school) for architectural drafting. So you definitely don't need an architectural degree do start a drafting & design business. Just don't advertise your services as an architect and you'll be fine. Many architects would rather focus their time on designing and then hire drafters to do the drawings. It's a win-win in my view.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, nVisionTEKBIM said:

I have a bachelors degree in Construction Management and a vo-tech degree (during high school) for architectural drafting. So you definitely don't need an architectural degree do start a drafting & design business. Just don't advertise your services as an architect and you'll be fine. Many architects would rather focus their time on designing and then hire drafters to do the drawings. It's a win-win in my view.

 

 

 

This is true but the reason it works is that you are working on behalf of a Professional Architect. In this situation it is the Architect who is undertaking the project. The issue is when you are providing design services directly to the public. Here, the Building Code Act has very specific requirements for anyone offering design services directly to the public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/2/2019 at 5:23 PM, CapeBuff said:

Hello,

I am contemplating whether or not I should start a residential design business using CA. I do not have a degree, but I do have 30 years of experience estimating for the concrete foundation and flatwork trades. I have generated over 6,000 estimates for both residential (90%) and commercial (10%) projects using Autodesk Design Review (read-only software, but it utilizes commands in much the same way as CA).Do you currently own a Chief License? I learned the initial basics by purchasing a Demo Disk with the Manual for $25 back in 1997 (I think they still have a Free Demo Download?

I have 2-3 hours daily that I could devote to learning CA (Dan Baumann courses...???) for however long it takes to become proficient (I'm in no hurry, but would hope to be at that point within 3 years....realistic?). You could easily be proficient in 6 months depending on your CAD and drafting aptitude. I would go to a 3 day Beginner's sponsored by Chief and then maybe find someone local or via internet (Michael etc) for periodic help per hour. My only concern is calculating design loads (you can learn span tables and there are programs that you could learn: BeamCheck, I-Struct (Weyerhauser-free), I do not have the necessary education to perform that task. So.... I was hoping to get some advice from the experts, do I need to get an architectural degree An architecture degree from an accredited school will take 5 years plus at least 3 years of documented apprenticeship with an architectural firm in order to qualify for testing for your license with(not required for business in my state) so that I can calculate/place loads? Is there software available that will do the calculating (I'm not opposed to getting a degree, I'm just looking at any and all possibilities)? I was told by a few people that they just send it to the lumber yard for calculations, but then wouldn't you be required to redraw/revise once you have that information (that would seem counterproductive to me...)? What do you do?? If you feel deficient regarding your drafting skills, I would recommend a drafting course at a community college or local vo-tech facility and that would give you a good base to add to your work experience.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you

Otherwise, sounds like something you would be able to do. Good luck. -Brad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here, the Building Code Act has very specific requirements for anyone offering design services directly to the public.

 
Graham:
 
yes, Ontario has very strict requirements
 
some USA states are also very strict - many are not
 
so yes, one must study the local requirements before running afoul of the law
 
with the internet it is possible to have design clients world-wide
 
my partner and I did project across the USA and even designed a chalet in France while the client was stationed in Saudia Arabia
 
Lew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The elephant in the living room may be "insurance". I can't imagine operating at any level in the construction industry without liability and/or error and omissions insurance, and it's my understanding that if you don't have a "stamp" (registered, licensed architect), then the insurance companies will not cover you for any aspect of construction design, even if the plans are stamped by an engineer. That may vary from state to state, but I would check with your insurance agent before doing anything

Obviously, if you're "drafting" for a licensed architect and it's under HIS/HER roof, then it's a different matter. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, DG1949 said:

The elephant in the living room may be "insurance". I can't imagine operating at any level in the construction industry without liability and/or error and omissions insurance, and it's my understanding that if you don't have a "stamp" (registered, licensed architect), then the insurance companies will not cover you for any aspect of construction design, even if the plans are stamped by an engineer. That may vary from state to state, but I would check with your insurance agent before doing anything

Obviously, if you're "drafting" for a licensed architect and it's under HIS/HER roof, then it's a different matter. 

 

Excellent point, any and all insurance policies will have a number of clauses that will exclude the insurance company from any activities you do that are not legal or you do not have the required level of competency to perform that type of work.

 

The act of doing design work does not in itself make you a designer, when I tell or imply to someone that I'm a designer there is an implied expectation that I have a reasonable level of knowledge, qualifications and competency in the area of design I'm offering. You need to keep in mind that most descriptors such as Draftsman, Designer, Contractor, Architect, Engineer have defined meanings so you need to make sure if you use one of these terms to describe yourself that you actually conform to the defined meaning.

 

Don't assume that just because you are working under an Architect that you are fully protected, especially when working as an outside contractor. Though initially it is the Architect that will be sued, the Architect or the Architects insurance company could in turn sue you if it can be evidenced that you misrepresented yourself to the Architect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Georgia, you don't need a license to do residential. And you don't need a license to purchase E & O insurance. I don't know how premiums are calculated, but I would imagine that they factor in the type of work (errors and omissions for only residential is probably less than that for commercial), as well as whether or not you are Licensed in your area.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe it comes down to two things,

 

1.) What specific requirements are imposed by the State.

The State will dictate what form of licensing is required and where it is required.

 

and

 

2.) How you represent yourself/business.

This will impact on what your business activities relate to and what you may be considered as.

 

For example, in Georgia it would appear that they do not require a Registered Architects Stamp for residential work.

 

However, they do have a section that prohibits non registered Architects from performing what is defined as "Practice of Architecture".

 

What I believe is of importance here is that the State wants it to be clear for persons seeking design services as to whether or not they are actually dealing with an Architect. It appears that by default, if you perform duties as defined under "Practice of Architecture" then you are acting as if you are an Architect. To avoid this, one who is not an Architect but provides services that fall under "Practice of Architecture" needs to make certain that it is clear to clients that they are not an actual Architect.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 https://www.designevolutions.com/house-plans-questions/does-my-state-require-house-plans-to-be-stamped-by-a-licensed-architect/ this site gives a state by state list of residential design requirements for architectural stamped drawings. Apparently, New York State is a "prick" in regards to residential design! (sucks to be Lew. -hey Lew!).

 

In PA you don't need a license for single and two family dwellings not more than 3-stories in hgt plus accessory structures and farm utility structures. We need a professional's stamp on most commercial and apartments etc. I have an engineer (PE) stamp my drawings when necessary which includes any residential details(structrural, electrical or mechanical) that don't fall under the prescriptive code language in the IRC 2015.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bradley:

 

when I first moved back to NY I mis-read the requirements and assumed only architects and engineers can practice there

 

turns out that it is legal to have an architect or engineer review and stamp each page of the permit set

 

I was doing a addition to my house and hired an architect to review and stamp

 

since I am retired now - I no longer need to worry about any of this :)

 

The elephant in the living room may be "insurance". I can't imagine operating at any level in the construction industry without liability and/or error and omissions insurance

 

yes, it is very difficult to get E&O without being licensed

 

one of the builder associations offers it to its members (can't remember which one)

 

the caveat is that the more certifications you add to your business card increases your liability risk

as a disclaimer can transfer liability to a "higher" entity but not to a "lower entity"

 

If you plan on being a "designer" only - have a good contract and disclaimers stating what you are responsible for

and what your clients are responsible for

 

NOTE: its best if your clients are builders or remodelers etc who are licensed to sign/submit the permit sets

 

In most states a homeowner can sign/submit but the courts disfavor trying to transfer liability to them

as they are an entity with "lesser knowledge"

 

for our homeowner clients we offered 3D drawings and basic floorplans

we did not create any structural details or cad drawings showing structure etc

 

IOW - we offered to create "pretty pictures" for them

 

Lew

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/6/2019 at 5:45 AM, Archnot-Boltz said:

 https://www.designevolutions.com/house-plans-questions/does-my-state-require-house-plans-to-be-stamped-by-a-licensed-architect/ this site gives a state by state list of residential design requirements for architectural stamped drawings. Apparently, New York State is a "prick" in regards to residential design! (sucks to be Lew. -hey Lew!).

 

In PA you don't need a license for single and two family dwellings not more than 3-stories in hgt plus accessory structures and farm utility structures. We need a professional's stamp on most commercial and apartments etc. I have an engineer (PE) stamp my drawings when necessary which includes any residential details(structrural, electrical or mechanical) that don't fall under the prescriptive code language in the IRC 2015.

In California I have had a structural engineer stamp all drawings for 30 years now mainly for all beam sizes (calcs) and lateral shear walls,  pretty much required in the big cities here.. We also have to do energy calc's  which have gotten very complicated lately. The cities here have all gone mad.!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Member Statistics

    28448
    Total Members
    9156
    Most Online
    Burtonmadness
    Newest Member
    Burtonmadness
    Joined