Spotlight on Specializations: Architecture and Design

Spotlight on Specializations: Architecture and Design

There are many specializations in the construction industry, covering everything from electrical work to roofing to concrete. When you think of most of these specializations, you likely picture a contractor who follows plans that someone else has made and brings them to life. That isn’t always the case, however.

One specialization that’s often overlooked despite its importance is architecture and design. These are the contractors who work on creating the plans and designing the vision of the property itself. There are a number of ways that architecture and design are implemented as a contracting specialization, giving you several options if you think a future in design might be right for you.

Independent Designers

While most people think of architecture as being separate from the world of contractors and construction, the architects and designers who draft floorplans and come up with building designs are actually an important part of the construction process. They work as separate but equal components of the build, communicating directly with the client in much the same way that a general contractor does. These designers are often involved in early discussions with builders and in some cases may oversee large portions of construction projects as well. Architects and designers typically don’t work as subcontractors, though some general contractors do like to have designers available in case problems should arise and the original architect is unavailable.


Another way that designers and architects can work in contracting is using what’s known as the “design-build” system. In homes and other buildings constructed with a design-build setup, there is only a single point of communication with the client. Either the architect is in charge of the entire build (resulting in a designer-led design-build project) or a general contractor is in charge (which is a contractor-led design-build). In either scenario, the designer on the project is an important part of the team and works in conjunction with other contractors and subs.

Contracted Designers

Design is a broad term, and some designers work with contractors and clients once construction enters its late stages. Interior designers, landscapers and others in the field are an important part of realizing the final vision of a construction project. These designers add all of the touches that really bring a property to life and help it to convey the message that the client desires. The more care there that goes into the final design, the more breathtaking the end result can be.

Specializing in Design

Architecture and design is typically a harder specialization to break into than many others in the construction industry. Design and architecture skills typically require formal education to learn, especially if you plan on working as an independent architect and getting licensed. Even acting as an assistant can take a significant amount of training and knowledge of drafting and specialty computer software. Going all the way requires training, degrees, licenses, certifications and on-the-job experience on top of everything else.

With all of that said, working as an architect or professional designer can be an incredibly rewarding career. Not everyone gets to design homes and buildings that will stand and see use for decades or longer into the future. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, the end result may very well be worth it.

Have you ever thought about how much work goes into designing homes and office buildings?