If you are planning on adding to your existing structure or completing new construction, you will likely need the expertise of a residential architect. You might also be unfamiliar with residential and commercial architecture differences and interested in becoming an architect. 

This article discusses the duties and requirements for becoming a residential architect. There are also some critical differences between becoming an architectural designer and a licensed architect you should familiarize yourself with before committing to becoming an architect. 

Continue reading to learn more about the responsibilities residential architects fulfill.  

What Is Residential Architecture?

Architecture is loosely defined as the act of designing and building habitable structures. However, this definition largely discounts the artistic element present within architectural design. Residential architects specialize in designing and building individual living spaces used as private residences. 

Client needs vary, and residential architecture has to accommodate these varying tastes. Residential architects need to consider tastes as well as functionality. They also need to adhere to local building codes and caters to client design preferences. 


What Is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Architecture?

You might tend to visualize architectural design as oddly shaped skyscrapers made by artists like I.M. Pei. However, commercial design is only half of the architectural design puzzle. Residential architecture has different safety protocols and control factors than commercial architecture. Architectural fees for commercial architects also vary compared to residential architects. 

While residential design favors comfort and amenities, commercial architecture must consider unique building needs such as elevators, escalators, larger bathrooms, and conference rooms. These differences highlight the need for architects who specialize in both commercial and residential architecture. They are two very different disciplines. 

What Is a Residential Architect?

Residential architects perform duties suggested in the title. They design residences including single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, apartments, and homes. They meet with clients to discuss their plans for their homes and discuss potential obstacles and adjusting to meet the clients’ needs through a series of meetings. 

After having a complete understanding of what the client wants, residential architects produce at-scale drawings using computer-aided software or designing the drawings by hand. Residential architects can either work in a firm or on their own. The job duties also require architects to travel to different sites to perform analysis on the sites themselves. 

If you use an architectural designer, you will likely only receive the drawings and concepts. However, if you use architectural consulting services, you will have a personal consultant throughout the design and construction phases. 

Architectural consultants can provide you with important guidance while planning your addition or new construction. They will be able to oversee the completion of your project as well. Residential construction comes with potential obstacles such as coding or awning restrictions and architectural consultants understand all of these rules and how to navigate them properly. 

As a residential architect, you complete most of the design process in the office. However, if you are a consultant, the design process involves more facetime with clients and onsite job duties. As the job progresses, an architectural consultant will likely have to travel more often to meet with various contractors to ensure proper budgeting and project management. 

What Are the Requirements for a Residential Architect?

A license is required to become a residential architect in any state. However, you can become an architectural designer without a permit. You can either become an architectural designer by trade or by earning your four-year degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in architectural design. Architecture degrees include bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs. 

The only difference between a licensed architect and an architectural designer is the state license. The state registration board dictates the requirements and details for licensing in each state. 

You can also sign up for a residential architectural internship. You can earn an apprenticeship through the Intern Development Program. It was developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). 

Licensed architects are the only ones who can perform the training in these programs, and they last around three years. The training includes project design assistance, building code research, and model builds. 

The final step before getting an architect’s license is passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). All states require licensed architects to pass the ARE because they consider it the most comprehensive examination for architects.

What Are the Possible Earnings for a Residential Architect?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the median annual wage for licensed architects is $82,320. 

What Are Some Related Careers?

Civil engineers share some of the same expertise as residential architects. Civil engineers design things such as buildings, bridges, and roads. They also perform tasks similar to residential architects, such as client proposals. 

Landscape architects are also similar to residential architects. They design plans for outdoor spaces, such as parks and gardens, and they must hold a bachelor’s degree. 

Construction managers use the architect’s design drawings to oversee the construction of the building until its completion. These professionals need to read blueprints and translate them into the structure, so the project stays on schedule and doesn’t exceed the budget. They must also hold a bachelor’s degree. 

Conclusion- What Does a Residential Architect Do?

Residential architects specialize in bringing residents’ construction dreams to light. From apartment buildings to mansions, they consider their clients’ preferences and consider various trends that add to residential structures’ overall functionality and aesthetics. 

This discipline differs from commercial architecture because each subsection of architectural design has its own unique needs. For example, residential architecture must account for stairway, attic, and basement design, while commercial architecture has various design challenges such as parking decks. 
Whether you want to be a residential or commercial architect, you will need to complete your ARE. Architectural designers have not completed their ARE, and though they may be proficient in architectural design, they are not considered licensed architects.

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