When you are planning to build a new home, you know that an architect needs to be involved. However, home renovations are different. This leads many to ask whether it is better to hire an architect or a contractor. The answer is that it depends on the type of renovations you are doing. Let’s look at when it is better to hire an architect over a contractor as well as those occasions when you may need to involve both.
If you’re replacing the cabinets or enlarging a window opening, the answer is no, you don’t need to hire an architect. Contractors and homeowners can do the work themselves, as long as you aren’t touching load-bearing structures. For smaller projects and basic remodels, an experienced contractor is as qualified as an architect but costs less.
The next question is when something counts as a small project versus a large one. A good rule of thumb is five percent. If the renovation costs more than 5 percent of the home’s value, it is big enough to count as a major renovation and requires at least a consultation with an architect.
Major renovations are literally a mixed bag. When the only changes are cosmetic like replacing the furniture and putting up new decorations, you may not even need a contractor. When you’re replacing all the flooring or repainting, there’s no need for an architect, though you may want to enlist a designer to ensure the home reflects your aesthetic vision. If you’re renovating the kitchen, you want to bring in an architect to at least verify that opening up the dining room won’t cause any ceiling to collapse. When you’re renovating kitchens or bathrooms, an architect should at least review the plans when you’re moving walls and water pipes. For whole house renovations, an architect should be involved if not supervising the work.
If your plan is to make an addition to your home, you’ll need to bring in an architect. One of the main reasons is to make sure that it conforms to local building codes. A team like Norrsken Ko for instance will make sure that your second story addition, mother-in-law’s suite or additional bedroom is approved. If you want to learn more about what they can do for you, visit norrskenko.com.au to learn more about what they do.
Another benefit of working with professionals is that any additions will look that they’re actually part of the house. The new roof line will blend in with the old, and future home buyers won’t be able to see at first glance where you added on.
Anything that involves structural changes must include an architect. This includes anything that adds weight to the foundation and load-bearing walls. It also includes plans to open up your living space or move a wall.
A designer might consult with a structural engineer when creating plans for a new addition or major renovations, but an architect will do all of this plus maintain the same overall design scheme. Considering that an architect can also manage the contractors doing the work, it is better to just bring in the architect to supervise everything from the design stage to the finishing touches.
For small projects, you might be able to rely on just a contractor. However, larger projects and those that affect the structural elements of your home should include an architect.
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