Article excerpt from Toronto Star, By Jackie Burns, Star Touch Sat., Nov. 12, 2016

The difference between architects and architectural technologists

One of the first calls people make before undertaking an addition or major renovation to their home is often to an architect, possibly unaware there is a less-costly alternative.

That’s what Mike and Leah Leon did when they set out to plan their two-storey addition, before the designer they hired suggested using an architectural technologist instead.

“Very few people know we exist,” says Richard De Oliveira of Re:Placement Design Inc., who was hired as consultant on the Leons’ addition. “You don’t always have to go with an architect.”

Since architectural technologists can be registered through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and may hold professional liability insurance, they can arrange all of the permits through the City and also make sure all the proposed renovations meet building code requirements.

In De Oliveira’s case, he can draw up all the design plans, too, but since the Leons already had a designer, his fingerprint on their project was more technical.

While it depends on which architectural firm people choose, as well as the scope of their project, on average it can cost about a third less to go with an architectural technologist than an architect. The Leons estimate they saved about $11,000 by going this route.

De Oliveira says his company, which he owns with foreign-registered architect Erik Calhoun, has worked on more than 100 projects already this year in Toronto.

“The number of third-storey additions we’re doing now in the GTA because people can’t afford to move is incredible,” he says. “Also, a lot of people are adding apartments for affordability.”

Calhoun adds that while architects tend to be interested in larger projects, their company has focused on renovations or additions to houses, projects which are not complex enough in scope to require an architect.

Facts and figures

  • Architects require a five-year bachelor of architecture or a master’s degree in architecture, while architectural technologists require a college diploma (2-3 years).
  • Like architects, architectural technologists can work in large firms and perform many tasks within the spectrum.
  • Fees differ from firm to firm, but on average, it can cost about 1/3 less to hire an architectural technologist.
  • Architects fall under the Ontario Association of Architects while architectural technologists may be registered through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.The Building Code stipulates what qualification is required for each different building type. An OAA-registered architect is generally required when you are dealing with complex buildings, such as hospitals, museums, universities or multi-storey condominium projects.