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By Matthew Hichens, A.I.A., Licensed Architect
October 2, 2022

Architects and contractors come in many shapes and sizes.  Here are some of the people (and their titles) you will come across during the design and construction of your barndominium.

Architect, Designer, Interior Designer, Interior Decorator

An Architect is a licensed professional and must be licensed in the state where you are building your barndominium.  An architect should be both licensed and insured.

While architects are also considered designers, Designers are not architects.  Anyone could be considered a designer.  If you draw a floor plan for your new barndominium, you could be considered a designer.  In most cases, however, you will need construction documents signed and sealed by a licensed architect.  The terms architect and designer should not be used interchangeably.

An Interior Designer is also a licensed professional but does not have the same skill set as an architect.  While many architects deliver interior design as a part of their service offering, interior designers are not architects.  As you can imagine, the focus of interior designer is the interior of a building, and as such, they are properly trained and licensed to do so.  Interior Decorator s a term that would typically apply to someone who selects paint colors, wall coverings, window treatments. The terms interior designer and interior decorator should not be used interchangeably.

General Contractor, Builder, Contractor, Sub-Contractor

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they often do not mean the same thing.  A General Contractor is the “lead” contractor on your project.  They usually perform some of the work, such as the concrete work of carpentry work, but on some projects, they perform none of the work.  In this last case, they simply manage all of the individual contractors…and don’t put on a tool belt.

Each construction project requires multiple contractors or sub-contractors.  For example, you can expect different Contractors to complete the concrete, masonry, plumbing and electrical work…just to name a few.  If there is a general contractor on your project, each of the individual contractors (plumber, electrician, etc.) would be considered Sub-Contractors.

The term Builder is generic and incorrectly gets used in place of general contractor, contractor and sub-contractor.  While the term is still often used, it is typically referring to a general contractor.