Architects & DesignersConsumer Guides

Residential Designer

Many homeowners planning to remodel are often surprised when asked if they have plans for their project. While a contractor may be able to draw a set of building plans, residential designers are specialists who are trained to use space most efficiently and educated in all the newest trends and products available.

They not only draw plans, but also spend time with each client to determine their specific needs, lifestyles, priorities and budgets to design a custom room, addition or entire home.

Residential designers can best be described as a cross between an architect and an interior designer.

Q: Why seek out a residential designer to design my remodeling plans when so many contractors offer free design advice as part of their bid service?

A: Contractors generally tend to fill a client’s requests in the most straight-forward manner possible, keeping things simple to avoid confusion and spending any more extra time than necessary. Getting the job and building it are their number one priorities.

By contrast, the residential designer’s whole purpose is sit down with you and work out your design puzzle in its entirety, with the emphasis on finding the best solution rather than the most obvious. Helping you understand the complexities of the project fully before it goes to bid (or worse, gets built) prevents misunderstandings and possible regrets about your choices.

Q: But isn’t using a residential designer expensive?

A: Not at all. In addition to saving time and effort, it often saves you money. Most contractors are so thrilled to get well-documented, professionally designed plans that they often rebate some or all of the residential designer’s fees back to the consumer when they sign up with them. They recognize that detailed plans with full specifications and interpretive drawings result in a smooth-running project. A client who understands and wants exactly what he is getting saves the contractor from the potential barrage of change-orders, time and money over-runs, and bad feelings on both sides that can easily result from misunderstandings and/or ambiguities.

Having accurate plans before the bidding process even starts makes it easier on the contractors and the client. If multiple bids are obtained, everyone is bidding on EXACTLY the same materials, brands, models, etc.

Q: So when should I bring in a residential designer? Do I need to know precisely what I want before I talk to one?

A: Although ideally you’d meet fairly early in the project’s planning process, anytime prior to construction is appropriate. You need to have a basic idea of what you’d like to accomplish, but skilled questioning by the designer to help determine even your hidden wants and needs is a very important part of the process. An incredible array of products is available and getting guidance from a professional saves you time, effort and money.

Questions about your lifestyle, creative solutions, or suggestions for new/specialized products may even trigger your looking at your project in a whole different light. The designer takes everyday usage practicalities, future growth potential and multi-use possibilities into consideration when creating your final design.

Q: What is the range of services that a residential designer typically offers?

A: It varies, but generally includes development of design options, working out the final floor plan with notes and specifications, a custom electrical plan, cabinet elevations, room isometrics, and door/window/appliance/finish schedules are available as desired. Full working plans (i.e. permit-ready) for homes or additions are usually available also.

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