One of the hardest parts of a home remodel is finding the right team to take your renovation from concept to reality. Maybe you’ve got a solid Pinterest board or some inspiration photos, but do you know who to hire to renovate your home?
Today, we’re exploring the roles of general contractors, interior designers, and architects, so you can find the right team for your Twin Cities home remodel.
If you’re planning a home renovation, you’ll need a licensed contractor in your corner, no doubt. Someone to bring your plans to life, handle necessary permits, and ensure everything’s up to code.
But do you need an interior designer for a home remodel?
What types of building projects require an architect?
Keep reading to better understand who you need to hire for your home renovation.
Interior Designer, Architect, or Contractor: What’s the Difference and Why It Matters
First, let’s break down the key differences between a general contractor, an interior designer, and an architect. Their roles have some overlap, which makes it confusing for homeowners questioning who to hire for their projects. But there are key differences between contractors, architects, and designers.
What is a general contractor’s role in a home renovation?
Simply put, a general contractor oversees a building or renovation project from start to finish. This includes:
- Developing building plans for your project
- Securing permits and ensuring your project is compliant with local building codes
- Finding, hiring, and managing specialists (or subcontractors)
- Overseeing and approving construction and installations. A general contractor will verify that all subcontracted work is completed correctly and to their satisfaction. If not, they’re responsible for making it right, not you.
- Securing the worksite, removing all construction debris, and resolving any on-site issues
Essentially, when you hire a general contractor, you hire a construction CEO. This person handles your project from brainstorming possibilities to the final installation. They are also financially responsible for any deficiencies throughout the process.
A general contractor is an expert in both construction and project management. And while a general contractor can ensure your home remodel is completed with code and safety in mind, you want your home to look and feel just right, too.
That’s where an interior designer comes in…
What does an interior designer do?
According to CIDQ (the Council for Interior Design Qualification), an interior designer applies “specialized knowledge…to the planning and design of interior environments that promote health, safety, and welfare while supporting and enhancing the human experience.”
Most states don’t require a license to practice interior design, however, many choose to become licensed anyway. This requires a degree in interior design and many hours working in the field while supervised by a fellow licensed designer.
So should you hire a designer for your home remodel? An interior designer can help you with the selection of beautiful finishes and fixtures of course, but their expertise extends far beyond decoration. An interior designer is also adept at:
- Designing and drafting detailed floor plans and renderings of your remodel
- Managing your project from early space conception to the final decorative touches
- Uncovering client goals to deliver a space that balances form and function so it feels just right
- Custom product design, from cabinetry and furniture to one-of-a-kind art and lighting
- Purchasing furnishings, fixtures, and accessories for your home
- Communication. Homeowners often have different styles and aesthetic goals. This can make home renovations stressful for partners when disagreements arise. An interior designer can help find a solution that’s a true win-win (rather than a compromise).
Like their architectural counterparts, interior designers can plan and design some structures and select architectural and building materials. But there are some key differences between interior designers and architects.
Interior designers vs architects — what’s the difference?
While interior designers don’t have to be licensed, architects do. That’s because architects make design decisions that affect the structural integrity and safety of buildings. They need to have a firm understanding of the engineering behind their choices and they’re liable for deficiencies in their designs.
An example for any Fixer Upper fans: when Joanna Gaines wants to open up that wall, she needs an architect or licensed contractor to sign off on that design to ensure that it’s structurally sound.
Architects also typically have more experience with exterior redesigns than their design colleagues. If a remodel involves moving lots of windows, doorways, or altering rooflines, an architect or contractor is typically a better fit for the project.
Finally, if a project exceeds 3 units (like an apartment building or office park), an architect might be needed to give a contractor’s plans the green light.
So, do I need all 3 — architect, contractor, and interior designer — for a whole-house remodel?
The short answer? No.
While each skill set is different, there is some overlap. And all 3 are capable of working together when necessary. But, when delays or issues arise on the job site (and they always do somewhere along the way), things can get sticky with multiple project leads. Homeowners can get caught between the back and forth as each team sorts out who’s ultimately responsible.
Luckily, there’s another option out there for homeowners who don’t want to juggle multiple contracts and players throughout their project: the design-build firm.
Is a design-build firm the same as a general contractor?
Not exactly. This is a little like “all trees are plants but not all plants are trees.” All design-build firms offer general contracting services, but not all general contractors can offer interior design expertise.
A design-build firm is the sweet spot where the roles of general contractor, interior designer, and architect overlap.
Instead of having 2 or 3 contacts for your home renovation, when you work with a design-build firm, you have one. One team that can design, coordinate, and execute your build with clarity and precision. One team to touch base with. One team responsible for delivering expert results from start to finish.
Benefits of Hiring a Design-Build Firm for Your Remodel
If you know you need a general contractor, but also want an expert designer to get the form and function just right, a design-build firm could be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Nope, not a typo. Working with an interior designer or architect on your home renovation could save you money over the course of your project.
Why? Because partnering with a professional design-build team at the onset means:
- You start your project with a clear plan and open communication between designer and contractor.
- Savings — of both time and money. The efficiency of a design-build firm often translates to less delays and unexpected expenses, keeping you on time and on budget throughout your project.
- Friendly collaboration, since all members work together, for the same organization, toward a common goal.
- Better end results. Because one company is in charge, each step of the process is handled with equal investment and care.
When you work with a reputable design-build firm, you’re partnering with experienced, invested professionals every step of the way.
Scott Rajavuori, president of Titus Contracting in Burnsville, MN explains it this way:
“At Titus, we are a turnkey contractor. Everything is taken care of from start to finish. That includes space planning and design concepts, engineering and surveys, permits, zoning, and inspections.
“We have an in-house interior design team to guide the process and help you with selections down to the smallest details that really take your home remodel to the next level.
“We consider ourselves ‘construction guides’. Like hiring a fishing guide, we know exactly how to navigate you through the process, to the payoff at the end! When you partner with Titus, you hire one company to see you through every aspect, from the outset to the final reveal.”