where to start..kitchen designer? Architect?

slorettoFebruary 25, 2014

Hello-My wife and I are starting to explore options for a complete kitchen renovation. We will have to do quite a bit of re-configuring based on our desire to open the kitchen up. May also require the relocation of our basement access staircase, as well as raising the ceiling height. bottom line it's not as simple as just keeping our current configuration and replacing cabinets, appliances and counters. my question is how do we start? should we start with an architect or are there specific kitchen designers that know enough about construction to advise on the structural changes? Can a contractor do it all? any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks

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Reconstructing the house, I would hire an architect who will have a structural engineer on board. No way would I rely on a self taught building contractor.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:51AM
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As far as the kitchen...I would get a separate kitchen designer or just get help here. Then go back to the architect and let them incorporate your kitchen plan.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Start with a reputable KD. I was just in a kitchen designed by an architect and damn near threw up. Horrible.

You don't tell your lawyer who to cross-examine. You don't tell your dentist how you want your tooth filled. Give your KD some ideas of your tastes and budget and then do as you're told. If she wants/needs an archy or engineer, I'm sure she'll let you know.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 7:31PM
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There are architects who do kitchens well but not typically, there are KDS who can and will work on the architecture but certainly not the norm. If there is major structural work someone certified has to sign off on it, either engineer or architect.

You will only know by talking with them.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Architects don't necessarily do the kitchens themselves. You might look for a company who has assembled a team of expertise in the various specialties. Depends on the depth of your needs and budget. But I would not trust the general building community with a project like that. There is too much slack out there.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:48PM
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I started with an architect because I removed a sun room and used that footprint for an addition. The architect drew up the floor plans and had the structural engineer sign off.

Then I shopped the statement of work and the resultant plans and chose a GC for the renovation. The GC recommended several cabinet makers and I interviewed and selected one that fit my budget and best incorporated my ideas. So I guess I used all three different types of pros.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:19PM
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Start with the architect and tell them that you are going to also hire a KD so no need to spend oodles of time designing and drawing the details. Since you are re-configuring things and will definitely need a structural engineer, there may be a few ideas that the architect brings up.....take those ideas to the KD and see what they say. That way you have input from both people. In an ideal world, everyone could sit at the table and harmoniously give-and-take ideas, but this may not be feasible. Be the middleman and take ideas from everyone (including our amazing layout gurus on this website!). It's a process, and like many things, takes patience, data gathering, listening to your inner voice and assessment of practicality/budget for yourself.

I call the architect/GC/designer triad, the "holy trinity", and if all goes well, you have in the end, exactly what you had hoped for. I do think you are best served by having all three though and not trying to have people wear more than one hat unless they are extremely talented. That's not to say that their jobs won't overlap, it's just that each of us always has a forte, even if we have some skill in other areas.

Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:38PM
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Be wary of "hierarchy worship."

This is where architects like to perpetuate the myth that they don't put their pants on one leg at a time. The problem is, these guys can draw any damn thing and they do. Code violation? Not their problem, check the AIA documents you signed.

I've had architects draw a 12' long backisland for a retail store. Had he looked at his own prints, he would have seen the 10' long freight elevator to the second floor. We cut it in half in the shop before the mall started fining everyone for opening late.

I"ve seen winding stairs drawn out of code and when the carpenter fixes that he increases the run, putting the Newall post further out than the customers liked. Not the architect's fault?

Renovating a college dorm, a plumber showed me how the pipes could have been rerun to look and perform better while saving time and money. The architect would have none of it.

When you've got a guy with dust on his pants working on his 268th kitchen correcting a guy who lifts nothing heavier than a pencil all day, I'd pay attention to what he has to say.


The building inspector doesn't care about the architect-specified floor joists that the building inspector himself signed off on. If he wakes up one morning and doesn't like them, your General Contractor, not you, not your architect, is getting a red tag until they are replaced. And folks here wonder why GC's charge so much.

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 7:27

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:08AM
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" ... You don't tell your dentist how you want your tooth filled. Give your KD some ideas of your tastes and budget and then do as you're told. If she wants/needs an archy or engineer, I'm sure she'll let you know."

I have to disagree. Just using your example, there is a lot of mediocrity in dentistry. I would never just blindly "do as I am told" by any professional. There is nothing wrong with homeowners being involved in the decision-making on their own homes. No one is going to look out for your best interest better than you.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:42PM
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People hire me because of my experience and knowledge. I want homeowner input and satisfaction, but every single thing done on a job of mine has my approval, expressed or implied. Homeowners do not tell me how I will do their job. Ever.

You would be astounded at how many people don't know what they don't know. I have been fortunate enough to know what I don't know. This is why I hire accountants and lawn sprinkler people. I wouldn't dream of telling either how to do their jobs.

I told a customer no today. I was refinishing his solid surface countertops and he asked about refinishing his sink. Usually this is no problem, but he had an acrylic sink with the 1/8" acrylic layer and the fiberglas backing. I may have been able to do it, but If I sanded through the 1/8" acrylic he would be staring at fiberglas until I replaced that sink. I'm not gonna bet $1,500.00 to make an extra $90.00. Fortunately he understood, but then I pick the understanding kind of customer. If anyone's paying for a new sink, it's going to be him, not me.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:52PM
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" ... You would be astounded at how many people don't know what they don't know."

No, I wouldn't, and that's my point. These professionals are mere mortals, not gods, and they often make mistakes, just like anyone else. To trust them blindly is foolish, IMHO. This forum is full of people who put their blind trust in professionals and lived to regret it. In any case, I wasn't talking about you, Tre, as you are obviously perfect. I was talking about everyone else. ;-)

Your "lawn sprinkler people' is a perfect example. I hired licensed "professionals" to do our sprinklers and they installed our valves in way that did not provide for proper back-flow prevention. What they "didn't know" was that I had just moved out of a rental house where the landlord had made the very same mistake and it leached dirty water into the water supply. They also "didn't know" water sprinkler basics. I'm sure the guy with the license knew, but the guy he sent to work on my job that day sure didn't. So, no, I am not astounded at all.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:42PM
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I never claimed to be perfect; please don't put words into my mouth. I get into enough trouble with the words I put there myself.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 8:10PM
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You know I'm teasing you.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 8:11PM
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