If you’re embarking on a home renovation project for the first time, you may wonder who
exactly you should hire. You’ll need someone to draw the plans, coordinate with the contractor, help select the materials, and order the window treatments. There are so many contractors, architects, designers and decorators to choose from. How do you know who you need and want to work on your project?
Choosing a professional for your home renovation project comes down to a lot of factors like cost, location, and availability. I hope to give you a sense of what each brings to the picture so you can narrow the field.
If you are doing a major remodel (example: relocating walls, plumbing, wiring, or mechanicals) inside of your existing structure, or planning an addition to your home, you definitely need to hire a licensed General Contractor. Some contractors have in-house designers or Architects. If you are the kind of person who has a very specific vision, you may only need to hire a contractor to achieve your goals. If you go this route, you will be the person who is responsible for conveying your intentions to the contractor. You’ll be checking in on the schedule, and possibly providing some fixtures and finishes.
If you are doing a major remodel inside of your existing structure, or planning an addition to your home, you may choose to hire a licensed Architect. The architect draws out plans and works with a contractor to ensure that the plans are completed. Some Architects will help you to select finishes and fixtures, but not all do. Be sure to have a conversation about this with the Architects you are considering if you are expecting this.
If you are doing a minor or major remodel inside of your existing structure or would like to redecorate, you may hire a licensed Interior Designer. An Interior Designer draws up plans then works with a contractor to ensure those plans are carried out. They will help you to select finishes and fixtures, place and track orders, and oversee installation. Interior designers will also help you to choose furnishings, window and wall treatments to decorate your space, if you desire. Note that Interior Designers employ or consult with Architects so that they can do larger, more complex projects. If you are considering hiring an Interior Designer for a home addition, be sure to confirm that a licensed Architect is part of the designer or contractor’s team.
If you are redecorating, you could hire a decorator (not a licensed profession). A decorator will help you to choose furnishings, window and wall treatments to decorate your space. Furthermore, many decorators employ or consult with Interior Designers and Architects so that they can do a larger, more complex home renovation project. In most areas, a decorator alone is not qualified or licensed to do remodels or additions. If you are considering hiring a decorator for a home remodel, be sure to confirm that a licensed design professional will be a part of the decorator’s team.
As an Interior Designer, I’m obviously biased towards my own profession. As you can see, there are very good reasons to hire professional architects and decorators. Just be sure you know who is who on your home renovation team. While it’s a licensed profession in most states, many decorators persist in erroneously calling themselves Interior Designers.
A lack of a Title Act in a state does not remove the differences between a professional who has a degree, a minimum required amount of training under a licensed professional, and has passed a rigorous nationally recognized exam and someone who has only some or none of those things. If you’re not sure if your designer is qualified to perform the work for your project you can look them up on your state’s architectural board website, or the website of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
Who have you hired for home renovation project or design projects? Do you feel like you made the right choice? Let us know in the comments!