Q: We are in the process of planning a second story addition as well as some updating to the rest of the house. There are so many choices and decisions to be made that I am beginning to realize that I might need more than a contractor’s help. Is this where a “designer” comes in or an architect? Help!
A:The process of obtaining design assistance can be difficult for the homeowner because there are often no clearly defined boundaries among various home improvement design professionals. Ultimately, you need to find the individual or organization that understands the nature of your project and can serve your needs. The best way to do this is to contact several residential designers, architects and contractors. Tell them what you want to accomplish and see who is the right fit for what you want to do. If they are quality professionals, they will be honest about what they can and cannot do for you.
Some contractors who can only build what you tell them usually prefer to build according to plans supplied to them, and will provide little design assistance. At the other extreme are designers or architects who only design but cannot build. The most common complaint I hear about many designers and architects is that because they are not in touch with construction costs, many beautifully designed projects are never built because they end up costing more than the owner expected.