Architects and Architectural Engineers: What’s the Difference?

Architects and Architectural Engineers: What’s the Difference?

If you’re planning a remodel on your property or considering building a new home, you might be wondering who you’ll need to hire to get the job done. Most homeowners understand that residential construction projects often require a contractor, but there is often more confusion when it comes to other construction-related roles like architect and architectural engineer. So what’s the difference?

It might be best to think of architects as handling the conceptual side of a construction project while architectural engineers take care of the practical stuff. For example, an architect can help you design the look of your project, providing ideas and options for things like the layout, materials, and color scheme of your remodel or new home. An architect might also provide blueprints, a CAD (computer-aided design) drawing, or 3D model of their proposed design. An architectural engineer will then take those plans and determine how they can be built accurately and safely.

A man in a hardhat inspects an electrical system.
Architectural engineers fall under one of three categories: structural engineers, MEP engineers, and construction engineers.

It is also important to note that the term architectural engineer does not refer to a single job; instead, it is a catch-all category for multiple different specialties. In general, the work of architectural engineers falls under one of these three groups:

  • structural engineers
  • mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (or MEP) engineers
  • construction engineers

Structural engineers are concerned with the stability of a building. They make sure a building can stand under its own weight and withstand various environmental factors that might come into play over the course of the building’s life. MEP engineers focus on the various systems that make buildings livable and functional. They also make sure these systems are up-to-code when they are installed. Finally, construction engineers oversee the construction process and coordinate with the many tradespeople involved. They are similar to contractors except that they typically work on much larger or more complicated projects.

If you’re planning a construction project, and you’re unsure which experts you’ll need to get the job done safely while also remaining on schedule and within your budget, then give us a call. We have trained architectural engineers and experienced contractors on our team who can help you plan for your next project.