CHANTILLY, VA, Apr 18, 2015—Many different home improvement professionals may enter the scene when you're renovating your home, from the contractor to the architect and even an interior designer. However, when it comes to planning your project, opinions vary about which professional to call first, according to Scott MacDonald, President of RE/MAX Gateway.
Some say the architect comes first because you have to design it before you can build it. The architect, who is trained to resolve problems creatively, can help define the project in ways that provide meaningful guidance for the design.
“The architect can also do site studies, help secure planning and zoning approvals, and perform a variety of other pre-design tasks,” says MacDonald.
On the other hand, MacDonald notes, a contractor will be the one you interact with on a regular basis and the person who will likely be in your home every day, possibly for an extended period depending on the scope of your work. Many contractors have in-house design services, or design/build firms, and can possibly offer better price and integration between design and implementation. Others may have several architects with whom they work directly, which could also provide a smooth integration between design and implementation.
When deciding who to bring aboard first, it’s important to have a clear idea of what each professional's role includes.
“Beyond having the architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities,” says MacDonald. The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion. The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural detail. Since many jurisdictions require architectural drawings to be reviewed to ensure the plans sufficiently meet local codes, the architect may also be responsible for applying for and securing the permits. Make sure that everyone, you included, understands who is responsible for what before work begins in your home.
Of course, MacDonald explains, it doesn't hurt to have a situation where the architect and contractor already have an existing working relationship. In fact, such an association could benefit a project by ensuring the smooth integration between the design and implementation. In a residential project, there is sometimes a triangle of tension between the architect, the contractor and the homeowner in terms of finger pointing and assigning blame. There is greater coordination of efforts, and generally less stress, with a design/build firm where the architects and contractors are accustomed to working together and are knowledgeable about construction costs and can fit design plans and specifications to your budget.
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