architect or technologist

For domestic building projects it’s always worthwhile using a design professional. They can help you find the best solution for your brief; they will advise you on where to spend your budget and where to save; they’ll guide you through the maze of planning, building regs, freeholder consent and party wall issues; they can even help you appoint a builder, get the right price and inspect their work.

Here at Design for Me We often get asked the difference between an architect and other architectural design professionals, so here’s the low-down:

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To call yourself an architect in the UK you must be registered with the Architect’s Registration Board (ARB), who is there to protect your interests as a member of the public. It’s members must adhere to their professional code of conduct. You can check whether your ‘architect’ really is an architect on their website here: Some architects also subscribe each year to be a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Typically, it takes an architect seven years to qualify, following a combination of theoretical and practical training, so you can be assured of their professional competence to deliver your project. The Architect’s Registration board also stipulates that its members must hold adequate insurance. However, it is always worthwhile double checking this with your architect before they start work.

Architects are able to offer you ‘full services’, from concept design to detailed construction drawings and specifications, but can also administer the contract between you and your builder throughout the construction phase.


Chartered Architectural Technologists MCIAT

Architectural Technologists also have a professional body – Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), who have a similar Code of Conduct for it’s members as the ARB. Chartered Architectural Technologist, MCIAT members can offer and deliver ‘the full range of architectural services’ akin to that of an architect as mentioned above. As with the ARB, CIAT also stipulates that its technologist members hold adequate insurance/s. Typically it will take approximately 5-6 years to qualify.


Some examples of work from some of the architectural technologists on Design for Me. Click the images below to see their full profiles:

Glass roof house

Timber self build

Timber frame and glass


So what’s the difference between an architect and a chartered architectural technologist?

The services that they would provide for a domestic project are broadly very similar. As a broad brush attempt to differentiate, architects are generally more ‘design led’ with greater interest, experience and training in the aesthetic and spatial qualities of a project. Whereas architectural technologists have often had more experience and training in the science and technology of building, e.g. how and why they are constructed in a certain way, using certain materials.

However, there are certainly many architects who are highly technical in their approach and many technologists who are very creative, so individuals should be considered on their own merit.


Other types of architectural professionals

Architectural technicians or (non-chartered) architectural technologists

Do not have to be registered with CIAT to describe themselves as such and may or may not have academic qualifications or experience to offer design services.

‘Part II’ or ‘Part I’ Architectural designers

are partially qualified architects (note, so not architects). Similar to architectural technicians, they will usually work within a practice under the direction of an architect.


“Architectural designers”

This is really a broad term covering all of the above and the title is not protected by a regulatory body. Therefore the title could apply to those with an architectural qualification as mentioned above… or in some cases, none at all. Qualifications, experience and expertise will vary from person to person. So, here are a few things to consider/ questions to ask when appointing any architectural design professional below


Examples of work from some of the architectural designers on Design for Me (who are not qualified architects or technologists). Click the images below to see their full profiles:

Basement extension ideas

Scandi design

marble worktop


  • Do they hold professional qualifications demonstrating their competence to deliver your project? Are they registered with the any of the following: ARB, RIBA or CIAT?
  • Do they hold adequate insurance to protect you from errors in their work (Professional Indemnity Insurance)?
  • If they do not hold adequate professional indemnity insurance, their drawings and specifications should not be used for construction. Instead, the design liability could to be passed onto your contractor (builder). For example, the architectural designer could prepare preliminary drawings for planning only. Then, the contractor can develop the design into construction drawings and take responsibility under their insurance.
  • Have they done similar projects before? Ask to see examples when you meet and get references from their past clients.


The key to a successful project is good research and planning and it’s wise to get a design professional involved as early as possible to help with this. Finding the right one can be a bit of a minefield, which is why we created Design for Me in the first place. You can register your project with us for free and we’ll find the right architectural design professional for you in no time.

Emily  Design for Me

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2 Responses to “What’s the difference between an architect and an architectural designer or technologist?”

  1. Ian McHugh

    Worth stressing that most builders do not hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) for liability for detailed design and specification, so be careful if they say they are insured as it can often be a different kind of insurance. Can be confusing but Architects can help with advice on this.

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