It’s time to remodel your house? Yay! So, who does what?
This Primer assumes that you are not redecorating, but remodeling: moving walls or some other kind of project that will be messier than new carpet, drapes and new furniture.
You can start by calling almost any design or construction professional: Architect, Contractor, Designer (decorator). Maybe a cabinetmaker, electrical contractor or other specialist will recognize or advise that you need to put this project together properly. You might even learn that the project could require a building permit, which means you need an architect.
An Architect will work with you to provide a structural layout with construction details and draw up the plans for your project. You can get a recommendation from a builder/contractor or a Designer, friend or neighbor or possibly even the building department in your town.
A General Contractor is just what the name says: a person who will put together a construction team of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and whoever else you will need to execute the project as drawn and specified. He/she will do the scheduling, troubleshooting and oversee the entire project. Yes, if you want to devote a HUGE amount of time to the project, you can look for, hire and oversee the subcontractors yourself…That’s a HUGE job if you are unfamiliar with the scope of what you want to do and how to get it done. Many (probably most) GCs have their own crews, especially carpenters but also their own “team” of other tradesmen.
I like pre-selecting a Contractor and negotiating a budget. It’s infinitely more common to bid out the job based on the Architect’s plans. This takes more time and you need to (usually with the Architect’s help) be sure that each of the proposals you get contains the same items (“apples” to “apples”).
An Interior Designer has a team too (at least most of us do). A Designer will work with the Architect and the Contractor to choose affordable products (within the budget you approve) at the same time as you work together on a plan for your interior spaces. Designers are often able to present plans that include architectural elements (such as lighting layouts) as well, but are not qualified to obtain building permits. A Designer will likely assemble the products you will be purchasing, get your approval and probably purchase them for you. You may or may not want to do your own purchasing. As a Designer, I’d love to not get involved with “products”. I can’t even imagine how many problems in my industry are totally product related, but its part of my job and a homeowner will never be able to find and purchase from the resources I have. No way. (A blog topic, maybe?)
Often, as a Designer, I act as a Project Manager. There’s a clause in my contract to cover that and it’s not always “standard”. Some projects don’t require a GC or an Architect, but someone has to be “Boss”. With the interior furnishing such as upholstered pieces (sofas, chairs), case goods (cabinets, tables), window, wall and floor coverings and related items – a Designer is already putting those parts together to make a whole. BUT, a project can involve a plumber and an electrician and a painter even without carpentry and a GC, and someone has to call everyone to make sure that work is done in order and in a timely way. That’s Project Management, as I describe it.
Again, you can try this yourself or you can find a contractor to coordinate “the trades” for a small job. But if it’s the beginning steps of a project that will primarily evolve into mostly Interior Design, the Designer should be able to take on this role for a reasonable fee (I just add in the hours) and you will need a bit smaller workforce.
Each person I've listed has responsibilities and workers to corral so that the project gets done. By understanding these roles and how we work together, hopefully your project will be run smoothly and professionally.
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