Home improvement projects are one of the biggest, most personal things that many homeowners will take on in their lifetime. People often have big dreams for the places that they live, and it’s only natural that you’ll want everything done right. Part of the equation in getting the look, style, and function you want out of your home is finding the right Pro to hire. Unfortunately, many homeowners tend to believe that for smaller projects it makes more sense to just hire a contractor or a handyman to do the work than to hire a more specialized Pro such as an architect, designer, or design firm. There are definitely times when a contractor or handyman is the right person to call for the job, but there are just as many times when a designer is essential to get the finished project you’re after. Learn when to hire each one to ensure you get everything you want on the job.

What Design Pros Can Do

Pros that can design for you – architects, kitchen designers, bathroom designers, design firms, interior designers, and some builders – can offer you a specialized service that even the most competent contractor just can’t do. A contractor can make changes to your home, but they often need you to tell them exactly what those changes should be before they begin. Likewise, even if they have their own vision for the job, they aren’t likely to be able to communicate it well to you, or they may not be able to collaborate with you on the planning stages.

Architect vs. Designer

A simple way to figure out which design pros to hire is to ask, will there be changes to the existing structure, e.g., roof, ceiling, walls, floor, or foundation? If yes, then hire an architect. Architects design building while designers focus on interior space and use furniture, fixtures, and other accessories to create a desired look and function for spaces inside a building. So hire an architect when you want a new building, new facades, additions, a new configuration of the existing space, historical preservation, or efficient and sustainable design. Many architects can also design beautiful interior space, but often they rely on their designers to create the finishing touch. Bring a designer onboard when your primary focus is interior space planning and no structural changes, e.g., no change to the existing walls or roofline or adding new walls.

Designers offer visual and space planning services that are necessary if you’re doing anything more than a cosmetic update of existing surfaces in the room. Meaning that if you want to move walls, enlarge spaces, add storage areas, change the layout of a room such as moving the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen, or if you want to build an entirely new area onto your home, they can help you plan those spaces properly. A designer is able to look at the space, find the best way for you to utilize it, and help you see how those changes will work for you and your family. A designer can also collaborate with you if, for example, you have specific items you’d like to include.

One example of this would be if you wanted to remodel your mudroom to include built-in storage. A contractor can purchase material and build storage cabinets, but a designer can help you brainstorm and plan where to put the type of storage you decide on, determine how large it should be within the confines of the room, and help you pick out the type of custom storage that will meet your needs. While you may think you know what kind of storage you would want, would you be able to figure out if it would impede foot traffic through the room? Or would you know if another solution would actually work better in your particular space? A contractor couldn’t answer these questions for you, but a designer could. In other words, a Pro who is also a designer can help you make better decisions about what you’ll do in your home.

Designers May Save You Money

One of the biggest hesitations that homeowners face when it comes to hiring a designer is the thought that you’ll be sacrificing part of your budget for the project, money that you think you could save and put toward other things if you do the designing yourself. Often, however, the opposite is true. Hiring a designer means that the work gets done right the first time, so you have less chance of having to rip out and redo things, or prolong the project with unnecessary expenses. At the same time, a designer may be able to make suggestions for you that can actually save you money, so in effect hiring a designer could cost you nothing or even save you money in the long run.

Working with Designers and Contractors

Often, you’ll find that designers and contractors work together on large projects. In some cases, you’ll find that you’ll want to coordinate these efforts yourself. In other words, you may hire your own designer, get the space planned, then hire the contractor to do the job. Other times, you may hire Pros that work together in a team, such as a design firm, or a designer that has worked well with a contractor in the past and teams up with them on other projects. So hiring a designer won’t necessarily mean that you won’t be working with a qualified Pro who can build for you as well.

Make the Right Choice

Designers are Pros that can visualize and plan the space in your home with your input and to your specifications. Hiring one will help ensure the project gets done to your satisfaction, and making sure that your home is left in the best possible hands.


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