What does an architect do?

What exactly does and architect do?


This answer is all over the internet. We are basically space designers. The problem is, everyone thinks they can design spaces without qualifications or experience - the truth is, anyone can design spaces, we as architects are just far better at it!

On Hofman Architects’s website there is a very clear explanation (check it out) as to what exactly architects, specifically in South Africa, do.  

“Architects are highly skilled and professionally trained to provide a service from a project’s inception to its completion and beyond.
If one thinks that architects just design spaces and issue drawings for council approval, then you are making a mistake - however, because people think this is all we do, we offer it as a off-the-shelf-service to clients.

Why appoint an architect?

According to the South African Institute of Architects’ Working with an architect - A Client’s Guide:If one appoint an architect the architect will assist you in setting a viable brief and budget for the project and becomes the creative interpreter of your needs and aspirations. An architect is able to assist you in the selection of other consultants such as surveyors and engineers and is able to lead the professional team by fulfilling the role of principal consultant.   Furthermore, architects are trained to administer the construction contract as the client’s principal agent, thereby guiding the building delivery process to successful completion.”  

“To register as a professional architect requires the completion of a Master’s degree at a tertiary institution, a minimum of 3200 hours (that is 400 full working days) of practical training, and the successful completion of a professional practice examination. Therefore, while architectural technologists and draftspersons may offer some of the services that an architect carries out, it is only by employing a registered professional architect that a client may expect to tap into the full range of skills and services that an architect provides
“In South Africa, the title ‘architect’ is reserved by law to a person who is academically and professionally qualified and registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). All registered persons must comply with a Code of Professional Conduct which sets out the standards expected of an architect in professional practice. To remain abreast of developments in the construction industry, registered professional must engage in a process of continued professional development throughout their career (on an ongoing basis).“

The architect’s service

You will have to prepare, in as much detail as possible, your requirements for your project before setting up a meeting with your preferred architect.  

We have developed a template that clients can use to effectively prepare for the first meeting with an architect. Send us an email (hope@plans123.co.za) and we will gladly forward the MS Word document to you.  

“Architects are trained to evaluate the numerous parameters applicable on your project before starting the design process, and are able to give guidance on aspects of your project from the design through to documentation (planning) and construction.”
“The standard scope of an architect’s service comprises that of design consultant, principal consultant and principal agent. This means that the architect will (not only) act as the designer of the project, and as leader of the professional team and will proceed to procurement of the contractor(s) and will administrate the construction project on your behalf. The standard service of an architect is a full service, through the six work stages of the project.”
If an architects is therefore not appointed for the full service then someone else will have to fulfill those duties.  This is often where the ball is dropped in construction processes, because clients are often oblivious of what it takes to complete a building project. Having a Professional Architect involved throughout the construction process will save you a lot of time and money - guaranteed!
An investment in the services of a professional architect will safeguard the overall investment in the project” - According to SAIA.  
Unfortunately, however, there are many people who call themselves architects after doing an online draftsman course. Clients are advised to always check the registration of architects with SACAP, to ensure that you will be protected should thing not work out - which happens too often.


This is a very technical explanation and it may seem confusing to the end users. At Plans123 we have simplified it into an isolated service where you can buy the plans from registered professionals. By buying from us you are assured that the house was properly designed by a highly qualified architect, who has all the necessary expertise to design a building that will both be beautiful and practical to live in, and complies to the South African National Building Standards.  

Please give us a call or send us an email (support@plans123.co.za) if you have any questions on the legitimacy of an 'architect' - we will help you make sure you ask the right questions before making this huge decision!

We do all our customer support live via chat, email or telephone - 082 470 0342