Hiring a professional
Your remodeling pro must submit design plans
to your local city and/or county building code enforcement officials to obtain
the proper permits to begin work. If your project is a simple one, a schematic
may suffice. More involved projects usually require construction drawings and
blueprints from an architect or designer.
Architects must have
a degree in architecture, three years of experience with an architectural firm
and a state license. Note: Many architects specialize in structural design for
commercial properties or custom homes and do not accept remodel projects.
Designers do not need a license
to practice, though many find it beneficial
to earn professional certification from any
of several industry groups, ASID from the
American Society of Interior Designers is
one. Designers excel at the kind of creative
interior makeovers featured on HGTV. Many
designers are self-taught.
For most home remodels, an architect is too costly. Designers, however, can frustrate
a contractor with structural problems.
Jim Strite, president
of Strite Design & Remodel of Boise, Idaho, says design/remodel firms such
as his, which integrate professional design and construction, offer homeowners
the best value for their dollar.
"We start out discussing
the ideas and the investment right upfront before we start putting pen to paper,"
he says. "A good design/remodel firm will be constantly comparing the cost
to the design and the design to the cost. Having a design/remodel firm, both the
designer and the construction department are working toward the same aim: to maximize
the project for the homeowner."
Strite tells horror stories
of how independent designers and contractors have turned into warring camps over
either bad design by the former or poor execution by the latter.
remodelers are technicians; they're left-brain, linear thinkers. They know how
to put the erector set together once they see the plan but they don't have the
right brain, which is the creative side," he say. "Conversely, contractors
often find that what the designer thought was an existing structure is not, so
now the erector set isn't going to go together as anticipated and the inspector
wants some more plans and the designer is down the road on other projects and
may get back to you in two weeks."