FAQ for Consumers

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Where do I look to select the right design professional to design my home?

A: Selecting the right design professional is an important first step in the building design process. Talking to others who have recently built a home is a great place to start in getting referrals. Asking others in the building industry such as builders, realtors and other peers is another source. AIBD members are dedicated professionals with a passion for excellent home design. Our website has a searchable database where you can find building designers in your area.

Q: What do I need to ask when interviewing a potential designer?

A: Asking the right questions are important in making an informed decision. Discussing with candidates candidly about issues regarding their experience, process and fee structure is essential. Feel free to ask to see examples of their work and references of past clients to call. If planning a home rénovation or historical restoration, make sure the candidate has experience with this type of project. Personal chemistry is important as well as you will be working with this person closely for a rather lengthy period of time. Make sure this designer will listen and respond to your requests in creating your new dream home.

Q: What do I need to bring to my interviews with potential designers?

A: It’s important to bring as much information as possible so that candidates can give you the most informed responses regarding your home design program and its site. Make sure you bring a site survey or plat, any possible community deed restrictions or covenants, photos of site, a list or program of required rooms and features, clippings of magazine pictures reflecting interior and exterior styling preferences and anything else that may assist you in communicating your home design wishes. Ask the designer when scheduling your interview for desired collaterals to bring.

Q: Who do I hire first in the building process? The builder or design professional?

A: This issue is always the proverbial “egg or the chicken” question. While hiring the right builder is critical to ensure the most successful outcome, it is just as important to have the proper design to maximize satisfaction and return. Starting first with either can impact the results greatly. Hiring the Design Professional first allows you to design the home directly with the designer without being tied to a particular builder. Some home owners will prefer to be able to bid the house plans with several builders and may not want to bring a builder on board right off the bat. Once the conceptual plans for your home have been developed, you could have them bidded for preliminary pricing to see if the design is within reach budget wise. This also allows to start communication with the builders you may have in mind and to get a preliminary idea of how much the home might cost before completing the entire set of drawings and realizing that it might cost more than anticipated. Starting this communication early with these builders in the process will help you see which builder you may want to continue to work with. Hiring the building designer first will give the designer more freedom to express his creativeness without having a builder trying to control the project too much and maybe over simplifying the project so much that you may not get what you invisioned. On the other hand, you have a choice of hiring a design-builder that may handle the entire process from design to construction. A design-builder may have an in-house design professional or can guide you to their prefered design professional to design your home. But, if you take this route, it is because you know that this is the builder who you want to build your home. Do keep in mind that the drawings as intellectual property produced by the design-builder may not be transferable to another builder and you may have to start the entire process all over again with another builder. Each professional whether the builder or the design professional views the process of construction from a different perspective. One from a design perspective and the other from a monetary/execution view. Utilizing each’s strengths in a strategic way can help ensure your project is both beautiful and well crafted.

Q. What Is A Professional Building Designer?

A: A Building Designer is first and foremost a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style and budget of the client. A Building Designer may offer a complete array of professional services to you as the client and may consist of:

• Residential Design, both single and multi-family, and commercial structures as permitted by the architectural statutes of each state.

• Conferring with you to ascertain type, size, and ultimate usage of the structure during the initial planning stage.

• Approaching any design problem based on the practical, functional and economical solutions that will best fulfill your requirements, while translating these factors into a concept that is both aesthetic and utilitarian.

• Offering recommendations regarding the site, interior and exterior layout, materials to be used, and architectural and exterior treatments.

• Furnishing you preliminary and detailed designs for the proposed structure, ranging from the initial concept to complete working drawings and specifications that will comply with all applicable building codes and regulations.

• When the conceptual designs are accepted by you, the building designer may present a contract detailing the extent of the services to be furnished and outline the related responsibilities, fees, and structural, mechanical and electrical considerations.

• Helping you select contractors and overseeing construction. You may retain a Building Designer to provide all or any part of the planning, design, and construction process as you desire. These services are subject to the policies and services of the individual designer you select.

• When retained to do so, he may assist you by preparing and publishing bid proposals for construction, and may also interpret and explain bid proposals to you with any recommendations.

• As your agent, he may as allowed by some states to conduct on-site inspections or observations of your construction, ensuring that all work meets the recognized standards.

A Building Designer that is a member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) has met the requirements of the AIBD ByLaws and the work experience standards deemed necessary to gain comprehensive knowledge of the profession of building design. The American Institute of Building Design established an independent body known as the National Council of Building Designer Certification to create and administer an examination and certification program. Those persons so certified are permitted to use the title of Certified Professional Building Designer(CPBD).Certified members are deemed qualified to perform services required in any portion of planning, design and construction, as permitted in their state of residence or practice. For more information on this certification process, please visit NCBDC.com.

Q. Why Hire A Professional Building Designer?

A: Building a home represents the greatest financial investment most people will make in a lifetime and few envision how complex the process is until they are entangled in a jungle of restrictive covenants, building codes, zoning ordinances, design options, vendor and contractor choices and so on. Yet, most states do not have a licensing requirement for residential building designers.

When a new home or addition is in your future, a specialist in the discipline of residential design is your best choice to guide you through the design/building experience. Accordingly, it makes sense to secure design services from a qualified, experienced source, a professional member of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD).

Since 1950, AIBD has provided building designers with educational resources, and has developed nationwide design standards and a code of ethics for the building design profession. Today, AIBD is a nationally recognized association with professional and associate members in 48 states, throughout Canada and in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Bahamas. Its chartered state societies are active in their respective legislative arenas and work to promote public awareness of the building design profession.

AIBD is also meeting the challenge of the future by educating members about new and improved building materials and innovative technologies that will impact how we live in the future.

In response to the ever-changing needs of the design profession and to ensure greater credibility to the public, the AIBD Board of Directors established the National Council of Building Designer Certification (NCBDC), and has charged its leadership with overseeing the Designer Certification Program. For those who have chosen the profession of building design, there is no greater evidence of competency than achieving the status of Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD).
Application for this credential is available to building designers, both professional members of the AIBD and non-AIBD members who qualify. Alternately, the credential of Professional Building Designer is the highest classification level, which a professional member of the AIBD can attain. To qualify, an individual must first possess a minimum of five years of educational and professional design experience. As with the CPBD credential, a Professional Building Designer must subscribe to a scrupulous code of professional ethics. Equally significant, both require a commitment to professional development through a continuing education policy.



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