Posted on February 03 2018
Congratulations for making it through January, through some of the coldest days of the year so far, the saddest day of the year and making a clean and fresh start. Did my last post put you off renovations? Or do you want to hold steadfast dreams of improving your homes?
I encourage anyone who has even the slightest desire, to just go for it. This rite of passage may be fraught with stressful times, but well worth the effort in the end. But do you want to forge ahead on your own, or seek professional help? Your scope of work will dictate which type of help you might need.
Here is a guide to finding the perfect professional, to help with achieving your end goals of improving and beautifying your spaces, whether you tackle it for your own enjoyment or for the purpose of selling and moving on.
Architect (and Structural Engineer):
If your project involves a new building or an addition or restructuring, an architect would be the right professional to hire. He/She will certainly consult a structural engineer to make sure all areas affected are structurally sound and to ensure that existing areas are strong enough to hold the new additions and that the 18 feet open span you want can actually be achieved.
They assess the feasibility of all weight loads spanning within one floor and floor to floor. Normally people gravitate towards an architect who's design sensibilities align with their own or the design that they wish to achieve.
- Architects have university education with professional designation and association membership (request to see their portfolios)
- They see the big picture, sight lines, flow, quality of light, quality of air flow
- They also design exterior facades
- They manage partial or complete builds/rebuilds including landscaping
- Complete set of architectural drawings for permit purposes to include: (Demolition Plan, Partition Plan, Furniture Plan, Electrical [Power and Communication] Plan, Ceiling Plan, HVAC [heating Ventilation air conditioning] Plan, Doors & Windows Drawings, Millwork [custom cabinetry] Details Drawing, Finishes Plan, Hardware Schedule)
- They or their company must have the ability to stamp approval for building permit purposes
- They liaise with the General Contractor who oversees all aspects of your building phases and sub‐trades
Interior Designer (and Structural Engineer):
If you would like to do an addition or restructure a portion of your home, an Interior Designer can do most of what you would expect an Architect to do. I really consider this profession to be interior architecture, covering all elements within exterior walls.
Regional areas have different requirements for interior designers to stamp approve for building permit purposes. And like an architect, people tend to gravitate to those with whom design sensibilities align. Or people may want to emulate a designer's signature style.
- They have university or accredited college education. Professional accreditation is not always necessary. (request to see their portfolios)
- Depending on your region, their ability to design complete homes is limited to certain square footage.
- They can manage your builds from concept to finishing touches.
- Their focus is also on interior spaces, furniture and room layouts, colours and finishes such as flooring, and kitchen cabinets.
- They will also need to consult a structural engineer as needed
- Take advantage of any trade discounts normally allowed for interior designers. That way you can potentially purchase your furniture and finishes like flooring and paint at a discount.
Architectural Technologist (and Structural Engineer):
If you are planning a renovation, consider employing an architectural technologist to do your drawings. Most people do not have scaled plans of their homes. An AT can do that for you. He/She will measure your interior and exterior spaces to created "As built Drawings". They can also help with any detailed drawings you would like for new custom cabinetry.
You can design it, they can put it to a technical drawing. These drawings will help you in your renovation journey to assist the architect or interior designer to better perform their tasks in a more concise manner.
- This type of professional normally has polytechnic or community college education. Local government standards testing are available them to provide you with stamped permit drawings.
- An AT is not your source for creative ideas. They do not dispense design advice. They are the technical workhorses who provide drawings for homeowners, architects or interior designers.
You do not want to move any wall, no construction at all, perhaps new custom built‐ins at most. If this sounds like you, an interior decorator may be the perfect professional option.
- They have completed a community college course or certificate program (request to see their portfolios)
- They pull ideas together to get a cohesive look and flow room to room, floor to floor, being mindful of sight lines and ergonomics.
- They assist with picking furniture and finishes
- They may also be able to provide professional discounts for your project.
Interior Stager or Stylist
Are you looking for a stylish eye to help you refresh a room, do you need someone who can help stage your home to sell? Then a stager or stylist may be perfect for you. A lot of stagers or stylist work alongside real estate agents or event planning companies or builders who have model suites for viewing.
- They may possess a community college certificate (portfolio necessary)
- Like setting a table, Stagers or Stylists set a stage for you or for open house staging or to refresh a room with purely decorative elements
- They can help with picking out furniture and accessories, colours and art.
It is likely you may need to hire more than one type of professional.
How do you go about finding the right professional for your project? One way people are doing it these days is by asking friends and neighbours via social media. I belong to a neighbourhood Facebook group. There, it's an open forum for discussing all things related to our homes, families, local happenings. You can get some really helpful advice and recommendations for professionals to hire. Some may themselves be available to help with your renovations.
Architects and accredited Interior Designers have their respective associations' publications and websites where their names and ratings are listed for public viewing. There you will find competent individuals or companies to help you. But in‐person interviews will really be the only way to see if you gel well with them or not. It's a bit like dating. There are some cyber or remote methods to get initially connected, but in the end, your personalities need to be compatible for a lasting and productive work relationship.
Good luck with realising your hopes and wishes into dreamy spaces to live and enjoy. Please feel free to let me know how your projects are going. I would love to read about your renovations!