Finding the right individual or team of professionals to plan, draw and build your new home can be a lengthy process because there are often no clearly defined boundaries among various home design professionals. Whether you decide to hire someone to design your home and another to build it, or find one firm to do it all, you need to find professionals who understand the nature of your project and can serve your needs. The more time spent during the hiring and planning phases, the fewer problems you should encounter during building and completion.
The best way to do this is to interview several different kinds of building industry professionals. Determine how well they understand your budget, timing and availability; whether their portfolio of past projects reflects your personal tastes; and how much involvement you want in the process. ServiceMagic can help you locate a variety of designers, architects and contractors to discuss all of your options.
Architects represent the most highly educated and trained category of designers, with a college degree and state certification. An architect is often the first person many consumers contact to discuss their building needs and site requirements, especially for more complicated, creative or sophisticated designs. Architects often have good resources for designers and General Contractors whom they feel comfortable working with to complete the team. Architects can help you detail exactly what you want, draw up plans and list material specifications; they may also provide oversight for your project while it is in progress. It is customary to interview several different architects, view their past works and verify that their portfolio includes experience with projects that fit your style and budget before hiring one to design your home.
Most states do not license or regulate “designers,” so it is important to verify their experience and professionalism. In addition to checking out their portfolio, look for design degrees from accredited universities and membership and/or certification from professional organizations such as the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), the National Council of Building Design Certification (NCBDC) the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), etc. These organizations help assure professional standards of education, field experience and adherence to a code of ethics.
Building Designers often have more practical residential design and even hands-on construction experience than many architects. Their designs tend to be more basic and practical to build, which often makes hiring a building designer a more sensible, affordable choice for some homeowners.
Residential Designers specialize in designing residential interiors. Trained to use space most efficiently, they tend to focus on floor plan design, detailed lifestyle evaluation and design functionality. It is not uncommon to consult with a residential/interior specialist to critique a floor plan or a Kitchen/Bath Designer to devote special attention to specific areas of the home. Because many Residential Designers can also offer advice about the latest trends and products, their roles could overlap with Interior Designers.
Interior Designer is a title applied to individuals who may also do some interior space planning, however most usually focus on “Interior Decorating” by selecting finishing touches such as picking carpets, drapes, paint colors, fabrics, furnishings, etc.
Draftspersonsprimarily prepare technical drawings of designs created by others, although some can assist with design. These days, most drafters work in Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) programs. If you have a good idea of the floor plan you want, you may just need to hire a draftsperson to draw the blueprints and have them checked by an engineer before speaking with general contractors to bid, apply for permits, and build.
General Contractors or G.C.s coordinate and construct projects that typically involve three or more subcontractor trades (carpentry, plumbing, painting, roofing, electrical, etc.). In most states, G.Cs, need a license to operate their business. Many who specialize in production concentrate on bidding and building from plans drawn by design specialists and do not offer much, if any, design or drawing services unless they advertise themselves as Design/Build Contractors.
“Design/Build” Contractorsoffer both architectural and construction services, and can carry a job from inception to move-in. Because one firm is accountable for the entire project, this approach can often result in a less expensive design that is practical to build (and causes less confusion between design and construction specialists who may not see eye-to-eye). These advantages have made the design/build approach popular in recent years.
When looking for service professionals to help you build your new home, don’t worry so much about whether they are called Architect, designer, builder, contractor or some hybrid of those titles. Rather, look for the individuals or companies with experience designing and/or building the type of home you want, and make sure you will be comfortable working with them.