Large scale, custom home renovations take a lot of planning and input from several experts. As you begin planning your next home renovation, you might be asking yourself “who should I call first?”

General contractors, designers and architects are commonly called upon for their expertise while renovating kitchens, bathrooms or adding additions to a home. Before you start making phone calls and obtaining project proposals, make sure you understand your needs and the differences between these professionals because each one brings very different skill sets to the table.

The Contactor

A contractor – sometimes referred to as a general contractor – is the primary point person overseeing the day-to-day tasks during a remodeling project. The general contractor may hire additional contractors such as electricians, plumbers or heating and cooling technicians to complete specialized tasks within a larger project. Working with a general contractor is often ideal for the homeowner who already has a complete set of plans prepared by a professional designer or licensed architect.

Contractors are often the first phone call homeowners make when they start planning a home renovation. However, unless the contractor also offers design services (more on Design-Build Contractors later on), this may not be the right place to start.

The Designer

Designers bring specialized knowledge of how spaces function, along with expertise on how to maximize the usability of a space. For example, they would have insight on the ideal layout of a kitchen based on how your family uses the space.

Designers should be first on homeowner’s minds when they want to change the style or design of their home. They can help you create a functional space that matches your checklist of must-haves. Designers come in a wide variety of budgets and can be a very helpful resource during your project.

Keep in mind that not every designer will be able to speak to the structural or construction needs of a renovation the same way that a contractor or architect will.

The Architect

Architects are licensed professionals who plan and design homes (or buildings) and advise in their construction. Architects are skilled at dealing with the complexities of designing entire homes or large additions to existing homes. They bring expertise in the functional, aesthetic and safety elements of a home’s design. They often work with engineers who assist with complex structural calculations.

An architect’s core work is in the planning and drafting of the plans, where as a contractor is responsible for the execution of these plans and manages the day-to-day activities on the job site. Architects are an important component to a large home renovation project that involves structural changes or additions.

An architect may be your first call when planning a large-scale renovation. However, keep in mind that you’ll still need to hire a contractor to manage and perform the work once the plans are complete.

Is There a Hybrid Option?

The Design-Build Contractor

More established and experienced contractors have recognized the desire from homeowners to have one point of contact during a renovation. Given this need, some general contracting companies provide a more robust range of in-house or contracted services that include interior design, architectural planning and engineering.

A design-build contractor may be best suited for a homeowner who:

  • Lacks the time or desire to oversee and manage a custom home renovation project.
  • Wants to interact with a single point person (or company) during a renovation project.

As a homeowner, you’ll need to have conversations with several design-build contractors to further understand their background and what they bring to the table in terms of complementary services.

Who Should You Call First?

While there are no hard and fast rules about who you should call, here are some common considerations for those native to the Cleveland, Ohio area:

  • If you are planning a basement refinishing project, you likely won’t need the specialized services of an architect, but an interior design professional may be needed.
  • If you’re replacing the toilet and vanity in your bathroom and the new fixtures will remain in the same location, you may not need design help at all.
  • If you want to make changes to the layout of an interior space, or reconfigure your floor plan, either an interior designer or a design-build contractor is likely your best option.
  • If you know you’ll need help selecting fixtures and finishes, partner with a contractor who either offers design services or has partnered with a reputable designer.
  • If you want to expand the footprint of your home with an addition, partner with a contractor who either offers architectural design and engineering services or has partnered with a reputable architect.

As you can see, the services of many professionals are commonly used in home renovations. The size and scope of the work to be completed will determine which ones are required for your project. With this insight, you should be better equipped to have meaningful conversations with potential contractors and design professionals.

Interested in discussing your upcoming renovation project? Contact Advance Design and Remodel to request a phone consultation.