When it comes to hiring professionals for help with home improvements, few homeowners have done it enough to become experts. Many people dread this part of the process; it puts them on edge because they’re afraid they’ll be taken advantage of. Although general awareness and careful scrutiny are important, finding the best professionals for your project is primarily a matter of asking the right questions.
Before any work starts, it’s essential that both parties know exactly what is to be done with the bathroom furniture and how much money is involved. Depending on the size of your kitchen remodel, you may be hiring professionals from several different fields, such as designers, carpenters, plumbers and flooring installers. Some hiring decisions will simply be based on your budget or on your skills as a do-it-yourselfer. Start by identifying the kind of help you need – then ask around for referrals of reputable contractors. lf you’re managing the job yourself, you’ll need to interview with many different subcontractors to find the best person for each job. On the other hand, if you hire a general contractor the rest of the hiring will be done for you, so finding the right person for that job is critical. This chapter walks you through the entire hiring process, from finding prospective contractors and conducting the first interviews to making sure that the contracts you sign leave nothing to chance.
Most of the major remodelling trades fall into three categories:
It’s best to familiarise yourself with each trade and consider how each one might contribute to your project.
Designers specialise in turning your rough ideas into working plans or blueprints for actual construction. They work under different professional labels and generally command substantial fees for their time. Bathroom furniture designers specialise in planning bathroom spaces. As a group, they offer a wide range of services, from helping you choose colours to act as general contractors. There are many kitchen design firms out there as well as individuals, and it’s important to find the right one for your project. Start by looking for designers who are certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (look for the initials CKD, meaning “Certified Kitchen Designer”). You can contact the NKBA to get a list of certified designers in your area. Kitchen designers charge their fees in a variety of ways. Some charge a flat fee or charge by the hour (about £40-£100 per hour).
Depending on what kind of help they give you, designers may charge a percentage of the project materials or the total project cost. Using a designer often results in a close working relationship, so be sure to interview several candidates before hiring one. Interior designers are designers at a more general level: they work with all areas of the home. They can help you choose materials and appliances to achieve a specific mood or style. Designers generally charge between £40 and £80 per hour, plus a percentage of the cost of interior finishes and furnishings. However, some very talented designers work for building contractors, custom – cabinet firms and home centres. Before hiring an independent designer, find out if your general contractor, building contractor or cabinet maker can provide this service at a lower cost. Architects are licensed professionals who design and prepare detailed construction plans for homes and buildings. An architect may be helpful if you’re planning radical changes, such as removing or adding exterior walls, building an addition, or vaulting a ceiling.
Architects charge substantially for their expertise, and only the most complex projects warrant this kind of help. They generally charge either a percentage of the budget (8% to 15%) or an hourly rate (£80 to £200 per hour). Building designers have similar skills to architects, but usually, don’t have as much engineering background. Although they charge less (£60 to £100 per hour), most have extensive experience in construction and design. Many building design companies offer design, project management and a construction specialty A building designer is a good choice if your plans call for extensive redesign work. Design/Build Firms are companies that offer a complete remodeling package in one service. They have their own designers and contractors who work together to complete the project from the first stages of drawing the plans to the final finish construction and decorating. ln most cases, you’ll pay one fee for this turnkey service.