Making Renovations Happen With a Consultant

So you've decided to renovate, and set a budget. You're on your way! Now there are four general directions which can be taken. The first may be to engage an architect or a designer to provide assistance throughout the project. This consultant can get involved fairly early in the planning stages, follow through to the completed working drawings, help apply for permits, hire the contractors, and supervise the work. A consultant can also be engaged for just a portion of this process, whatever you need expertise with.

Architects, architectural technologists, interior designers, and designers will all be referred to as consultants for the purposes of this section. Essentially, we are talking about people who have educational backgrounds and experience in planning and executing residential improvement projects. These are people who do not get involved with contracting the work directly, but operate as a liaison between the contractors and the customer. Depending on their background, the fees of these people vary.

Architects are perhaps the most expensive, and a true architect will be a member of a recognized architectural association. While certainly well qualified for residential improvements, most architects do not specialize in residential renovations. They spend a good deal of time at school insuring that buildings will be structurally sound, safe, and comfortable to occupy and aesthetically pleasing. Many prefer to concentrate on the aesthetics, striving for a satisfying appearance.

Technologists & Designers
Because many houses are similar, and there are usually space and budget limitations, some architects do not involve themselves at all with residential work. However, architectural-type services are none the less necessary for many home owners, and people such as architectural technologists, designers, and the like help to fill this need. Many of these people are completely qualified to work in residential renovation and many, in fact, specialize in this area. Very often, the costs are somewhat less if you use this type of individual rather than an architect.

The consultant is available to provide assistance at any or all stages of the project. He will work on an hourly fee or, alternatively, on a percentage of the entire project. Fees do vary and it is certainly appropriate to ask about fees before hiring anyone - even for a preliminary interview. The steps involved in completing a project are outlined below and, as we have discussed, the consultant can help with any or all of the steps.


  • Prepare initial sketches and design drawings.
  • Prepare final working drawings and specifications.
  • Obtain building permits and variances, as required.
  • Prepare tender, and award contract.
  • Provide site supervision, authorize payment, and inspect as necessary.

Typically, the fees for completing step one would be four to six percent of the overall project. Payment of ten to twelve percent of the overall project would typically include preparation of the working drawings and obtaining the permits. To follow the project through, providing supervision and inspection, the fees may range from thirteen to eighteen percent.

Revising Your Plans
If you hire a consultant, it is important that he have all the information necessary to do a good job. He must know your budget to be able to help mesh the budget with your master plan. He may want to revise or refine your master plan, and he may rule out some of the things you have included. Do not be alarmed by this. It is part of what you are paying him to do. Listen carefully to his comments and advice, but if he has ruled out something that you feel particularly strongly about, do not sacrifice that component of the project. It is, after all, you who will be living with the finished product. It is often very helpful to have photographs, or illustrations from magazines, of rooms that you like, so that the consultant can get a feel for your tastes and preferences. He should be aware of construction materials and products available, and his assistance here can be invaluable.

Come back next week for the ways you can realize your dream project without hiring a consultant.

-Sourced from Sears Manage My Home

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