Remodeling your house can be a big job. There can be a lot of moving parts in getting everything to come together in the way you would like it. Contractors need to be hired. Permits might need to be applied for. One important consideration you will have is whether or not you need an architect or designer to complete the home remodeling.
For a lot of small home remodeling jobs, an architect or designer is completely unnecessary. If you are simply re-tiling the floors, expanding a window, or making modifications to a wall that is not load bearing, then teaming up with a good contractor might be enough. However, for larger jobs, hiring a designer or architect could be very important to the success of a project. In fact, if you are doing more extensive work, the chances are that your municipality will require a set of design plans to give you a permit. Unless you know how to create those plans yourself, chances are you will need to consult an expert anyway.
Also, realize that mistakes in planning can cost you a lot of money down the line. This is particularly true of remodeling jobs since a set of cookie cutter plans are not available for the finished product. Architects and designers also have the expertise to come up with ways to save money both in terms of alternative designs and the use of different sources of materials.
Understanding the Difference Between an Architect and Designer
An architect is a professional with a strong engineering background. A common prerequisite for practicing is five years of study at the undergraduate level and three years of interning for another architect. They then have to be licensed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and pass a rigorous exam. Architects will have a good understanding of historical styles and aesthetics. At the same time, they also will understand all the engineering concerns that go into building a solid structure.
Designers, on the other hand, have less academic schooling. Some of them might have completed years of study and just fallen short of the requirements for being a full architect. Most of them are fully capable of designing plans that you can submit to contractors and the city planners. They might have to get sign off from a structural engineer or other specialists for some aspects of their work since they do not have the same engineering as most architects.
So Which Should You Choose?
If you are looking to outsource as much of the work as possible, then consider going with an architect. Unlike designers, architects can be hired to oversee the construction. Simply go to the architect and have them make the plans for your renovations. Then submit those plans to bid with some contractors. The architect will oversee the work on an ongoing basis to make sure the work is completed according to specifications. This can be particularly helpful if you are working with a contractor you do not know who might be trying to cut corners along the way to increase his profits. With this setup, there is little work for the homeowner to do as most of the oversight is in the hands of a skilled professional.
If you go this route, an architect will charge more than a designer. Architect fees can range between $65 to $150 per hour depending on the part of the country you live in. Designers, on the other hand, cost between $35 to $70 per hour. If you are having the architect oversee the construction, they will also charge an additional fee for those services. That generally costs between 5% to 10% of the total project.
If the cost to have an architect involved is too much for your budget, then consider hiring a designer instead. Designers actually tend to work more on home construction issues. Architects are most often used for larger commercial projects. If you do decide to hire a designer, make sure you are working with a contractor you trust or you have an expert you know or an inspector overseeing the work.
Take your remodeling job seriously. If working on an ambitious addition to your home, seriously consider hiring an architect or designer to make sure the process goes smoothly.