What you see is what you get

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of an architect.

What follows is the 3rd of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

3. What you see is what you get


The name, architect, is protected in Australia by the Architects Act, first established in 1922 to govern the registration and performance of architects. Only someone meeting the educational and accreditation requirements described by the Act is permitted to call herself an architect.

Thus, when you engage an architect, you know with certainty that she must have studied and graduated from an approved 5 year Bachelor or Master of Architecture degree. She must have trained for a minimum of two years under an already registered architect, and gained experience across a broad range of professional activities. She must have passed written and oral examinations that test her contractual, administrative and construction knowledge.

You also know that once accredited, an architect must be registered by the relevant State authority, which in Victoria is the Architects Registration Board of Victoria.[1] You know that in order to maintain registration, she must be covered by a professional indemnity insurance policy with a minimum $1,000,000 coverage. And depending on the State, she must undertake a minimum of 20 hours of continuing professional development each year.[2] You can view the national list of architect registration boards here or view the database of Victorian architects here.

Many architects, ourselves included, are also members of the Australian Institute of Architects, the professional representative body for architects in Australia. The AIA maintains a professional code of conduct, which requires members to uphold values of “ethical behaviour, equal opportunity, social justice, aspiration to excellence and competent professional performance”. The AIA also provides professional support and advocacy, and recognises the best new architecture each year via an extensive awards programme.

The minimum expertise of an architect is therefore well established, all that remains is your connection to our work ethic, client engagement and design philosophy.


  1. The ARBV is soon to be absorbed into the newly formed Victorian Building Authority, however its existing course accreditation, professional examinations and registration, and disciplinary processes will remain. The Architects Act will also remain as the regulatory framework within which architects practice.
  2. Continuing professional development is compulsory in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. It is also compulsory for A+ members of the AIA nationally.

Image source:

  1. WYSIWYG, author’s own image.

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