A few weeks ago I started a blog series titled: ‘Renovations: Reality vs. “Reality” TV’. My goal is to share with you years of experience in the design / building industry and to offer some insight on how to best prepare for the realities of renovating. Let’s dig into step 1 of 3:
Understand the scope of your project. Is it a ‘do it yourself-er’ or do trained professionals need to be involved? If it’s the latter, then become knowledgeable on what types of professional are available and their roles.
D.I.Y. has been a popular acronym for the past 20 years or so. (Actually according to Wikipedia, it was introduced in 1912 and came in to common usage in the 1950’s, but it really took hold once the world wide web and HGTV came along.) D.I.Y. primarily exists in the residential realm where homeowners plug into websites like Pinterest, Houzz, and You Tube where endless creative ideas exist. Do-It-Yourself is meant for simple projects where weekend warriors can roll up their sleeves, put in some time and elbow grease, save some money and feel proud about the fruits of their labour. IKEA was born out of the D.I.Y. movement. (A favourite place of mine, I’m not going to lie.)
So when does a project go from D.I.Y. to “bring in the professionals”? Here’s a top 5 list that indicates you should start hiring:
- Your renovation requires a permit and the stamp of a design professional.
- Your renovation requires structural, mechanical and / or electrical alterations.
- You have no design experience and don’t want to waste money on costly mistakes.
- You’ve never picked up a tool in your life and can’t decipher which end is up. Especially if the tools are sharp.
- Your time and energies are better spent focusing on what you’re good at so that you can pay a professional to do what they’re good at.
Once you’ve decided that your project is not a D.I.Y.er, what types of professionals should you be calling? Here’s a list of options and the types of work they do:
Architect: A licensed professional responsible for planning, designing, and reviewing the construction of buildings. They create total environments, focusing heavily on the building shell. Architects often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on major building / renovating projects, especially commercially.
Interior Designer: A professional responsible for designing functional and creative design solutions for interior environments. They work within the building shell to design for the health, safety and well-being of occupants. Interior Designers often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on interior focused commercial or residential projects.
Architectural Lighting Designer: A professional responsible for the design of lighting systems, including the control of natural light, electric light, or both, to enhance and strengthen design and to serve human needs. They work closely with Architects, Interior Designers and Electrical Engineers.
Structural Engineer: A professional responsible for ensuring that structures to withstand stresses and pressures imposed through environmental conditions and human use. They make sure the building doesn’t fall down.
Mechanical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Mechanical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of mechanical systems. This often focuses on heating, cooling, fire protection, plumbing and air quality systems.
Electrical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Electrical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of electrical devices. This often focuses on calculating & distributing electrical loads, wiring, communication & building controls and specifying electrical systems.
General Contractor: A general contractor, or G.C., is hired to take the plans created by the professionals and bring them to reality. He or she will orchestrate the comings and goings of the trades, order materials, inspect the work done and coordinate an ever-changing schedule.
So now that you know when a project has gone beyond D.I.Y and the range of professionals available for hire, where do you go from here?
Start by talking with design professionals who specialize in the area most appropriate for your project (see definitions above). Have phone conversations and / or face to face meetings with a few until you find someone you feel has the expertise you require and understands your needs. You’ll be working closely with this person / team, so don’t underestimate the importance of finding someone you mesh with.
In my next blog post we’ll dig deeper into how to establish clear goals and objectives. This will help you to focus yourself and the design professional(s) you select.
Until then, I wish you success in your D.I.Y. or in your search for the right team of professionals!