Home Building Professionals
Architects represent one of the most highly educated and trained categories of home building professionals. 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. In addition, an architect can be an excellent resource for other professionals, as they often have already established a pool of designers and general contractors they have worked with in the past.
Drafts-persons primarily prepare technical drawings of designs created by others, although some can assist with design. If the architect is the lawyer for your new home, the drafts-person is the highly-skilled paralegal. 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 drafts-person to draw the blueprints and have them checked by an engineer before speaking with general contractors about completing the project.
Structural Engineers need to be consulted if your project requires any structural changes to the existing building. A structural engineer will provide the required stamped drawings that must be submitted, along with the architectural drawings, to the building department for approval. Not all home building professionals are huge companies. Don't underestimate the value of these niche contractors.
Residential Designers or Interior Designers specialize in designing residential interiors. Trained to use space most efficiently, residential designers 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 or bathroom designer to devote special attention to specific areas of the home. Although residential designers have a different educational and training background, their roles frequently overlap with interior designers.
Kitchen and Bathroom Designers are more specialized remodeling professionals, although still very similar to residential or interior designers. They may lack construction experience or miss design opportunities associated with additions or movement of walls, for example. Yet, bathroom designers and kitchen designers are often best for high-end interiors where expensive materials, cabinets, and appliances will be used.
Home Decorators are specialists who offer advice on furniture, wall coverings, colors, styles, and overall physical appearance of your project. Home decorators can save you both time and money by helping you to narrow down your choices and utilizing professional discounts for materials such as furniture, home accessories, wallpaper or paint. When you meet an interior decorator, expect to talk about your personal style and preferences. From that, the decorator will develop some ideas that would work for you and help you translate your artistic sensibility into reality.
General Contractors coordinate and construct projects that typically involve three or more subcontractor trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, painting, roofing, or electrical work. In most states, general contractors need a license to operate their business. Most general contractors focus on major home remodeling projects and home additions, although you may find some general contractors who will undertake a new home construction project or small remodeling projects.
Design/Build Contractors offer 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. Many design/build contractors offer, or even focus on, landscaping services.
Final Tip: When looking for service professionals to help you build your new home, keep in mind that it's not as important to focus on the titles of architect, designer, builder, contractor or some hybrid of these. Rather, look for the individuals or companies whose experience, designs and ideas best matches the type of home you want.
After all, to them, it's a job, but to you, it's a home.