Which professional should I consult?

stretchtex1September 25, 2013

Hi folks, Ive purchased a 1600 sq ft pier and beam home. I'm interested in changing the layout of the kitchen and potentially removing a wall to open it up to the living room. Also I would like to add plus or minus 150sq ft for a master bath/closet. Shall I contact an architect or interior designer or both to bounce ideas off of and produce plans?

This post was edited by stretchtex1 on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 11:42

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Don't be too fast to talk to an architect. They won't give much info unless you sign a contract and then you're backed into a corner (does that sound like experience talking?)

I'd talk to a number of contractors in the area. Ask everyone you know for references and even stop by construction sites that you drive by.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:16AM
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Make yourself a to scale drawing, mentally, place yourself in it, walk around, change to fit your life style, then call the contractors.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:31AM
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No simple answer-in each category there are those that will/won't can and can't. Architects who do kitchens well, interior designers who can work on structure, KD's who will work with house layout, contractors who will help with design. In each case it is not the norm, but they all exist.

Anyone who is any good will not go very far without some sort of commitment.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:07AM
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I know a handful of contractors and I have confidence in their structural knowledge but they don't strike me as folks that would have an inspiring vision when it comes to design. Ideally I'm interested in someone that could produce some kitchen layout drawings and I'm assuming that would be a design consultant. Do designers typically bill on an hourly basis?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Yes, anyone will charge or ask for a contract,. Ask the contractors that you know who they would talk to. A lot/most of kitchen design is done by the folks who sell cabinets.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:04PM
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I was a residential designer for many years. Most architects do not do well with residential plans. Their minds are too out there to do the mundane. :) I would make a scaled drawing, make several copies if you are doing this by hand, and play with the drawing. You can download SketchUP for free and play with that.
Anything can be engineered to fit your plan as long as it fits with the builiding codes in your area. Most reputable contractors will have the knowledge to help you or have an engineer they work with to sign off on it once he/she checks it out.
Before you go to the engineer/contractor/builder, bounce your ideas off on here. These people are really into cost cutting, up to date designs, and will help you with it, giving you insights that they have come across.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Thanks everyone for pointing me in the right direction. I've been watching too much TV where professionals arrive at home, pull out an iPad produce a rendering and 3 weeks later owner arrives in complete awe.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:55PM
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and 3 weeks later owner arrives in complete awe.

Ha Ha - now they do it while the owner is "out to dinner"!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:58PM
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I would not use a contractor or general contractor for planning or design -- that is not their area of focus or expertise. Although they might "design" things, it won't be to the same level as a designer should be able to provide. They also often do not take the exterior into careful consideration when making changes.

You might check out an ASID interior designer. They should be able to design thoroughly, addressing the interior and exterior of the house, and then direct to other professionals as needed; such as a structural engineer or architect to spec the construction needs for the addition. An accredited interior designer (versus a decorator) is trained for constructing an interior, although not things like what nails to use or how to spec a load.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 19:34

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 1:18PM
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jakuvall hit the nail on the head and is spot on

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Since you're considering both, I would interview at least one KD and one architect. Most skilled people who have the time to take a job will come out to your house for an in-person interview, without charge. It will give them time to get a sense of the work involved and give both of you an opportunity to decide if you can work well together. In the interview, give them some guiding principles for what you'd like to see, and see what answers they give in terms of how well they can turn your guidance into design ideas that you think make sense.

In my experience an architect will often have a better sense of overall form and layout, and how to organize space. Their design aesthetic a lot of times will be more minimalist & they may not be as up-to-speed on new kitchen inventions / fixtures, etc. If you have a lot of city building codes, architects may have better knowledge of requirements because they are often the people working on your behalf to get designs approved by the inspectors.

That being said, KDs and architects may overlap to some degree & people in one group may also be great at the core skills of the other discipline as well.

We started with a KD but we eventually threw her work away and started over. We then went with architect who we were very happy with because he told us when our ideas were dumb ones and always came up with a better solution. But we did spend our own time researching specific products / fixtures to put into the kitchen after the design was done.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 5:35PM
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We are not changing our foot print, but we are using an interior designer to layout our kitchen. We are using a contractor who our designer regularly works with do to the work. I had another contractor that she works with do a structural repair on another part of our house earlier this year. Both of the contractors bill them selves as "design build" firms. So if there are those types of contractors in your area that could be a place to start.

If you go the design/build route and the contractor doesn't use an engineer, it isn't that expensive to hire one to review plans. We paid around $600 for an evaluation of our home so that the contractor would know the scope of the work before he began work on our structural repair.

Good luck, take your time planning, and ask a lot of questions on Garden Web.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Anyone have thoughts on preserving a galley type kitchen as opposed to taking down the wall and opening up to a living area? I was able to take a pic of the home I just closed on and was convinced that I would take down the wall that the microwave is mounted on until I saw some before and after pics of galley kitchens. You can see the front door mat in the backdrop.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 1:00PM
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