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In order to legally use the “architect” title, a designer must have a professional degree, have completed a supervised internship, and have passed a series of tests. Architects are licensed by the state to practice and must meet minimum performance and continuing education standards. However, not every renovation project legally requires the participation of a registered architect, and not every architect is an expert in renovation design. For the purposes of this section, the term “design professional” refers to both registered architects and unlicensed renovation designers.
Why Hire a Design Professional?
There are four broad categories of “value added” reasons to involve a design professional in a renovation project.
- Skills and Knowledge – Through education and practice, design professionals learn the ins and outs of the renovation process. A design professional can help you make sure that things get done how and when they need to be done as well as ensure that applicable building and historic codes are followed. A complete and accurate set of construction documents helps contractors estimate accurately, helps you acquire the appropriate permits, and provides you with a legal foundation if disputes arise.
- Time Commitment – A design professional can assist you through decision-making processes and save you time in permitting, contractor selection, and construction administration.
- Technology and Experience – Today, computer aided drafting can greatly speed the design process. Many design professionals today use CAD to produce accurate and complete construction documents in a time-efficient manner.
- Design Talent and Idea Source – Design professionals are spatially oriented people. They became designers because they love creating interesting and unique spaces. They can help you make decisions that help increase the visual impact usability, and resale value of your home.
Design professionals and firms that focus on renovation do so because they believe that adaptive reuse of our existing building stock is key to rebuilding and maintaining a vibrant urban core.
Services Provided by Design Professionals
Design Professionals can perform a broad range of services throughout the renovation process. Some of these include:
- Design and Construction Documents – A design professional’s primary job is design and production of construction documents for bidding, permitting and construction of your project.
- Feasibility Study – Feasibility studies are used to give a client options or help establish direction if a client is unsure of what they want or what is possible to achieve with a project. Design professionals can perform a wide range of studies for clients that include:
- What will need to be replaced vs. retained in a deteriorated building
- What options are available for adding on to an existing structure
- What type and how many residential units can be put into an existing structure
- Tax Credit Applications – Some design professionals are experienced with the requirements, forms, and processes of application for Historic Tax Credits. If your project is located in a designated historic district and could qualify for tax credits, make sure you understand the potential implications on design and construction budget.
- Contractor Selection – The process of selecting a contractor is as important as selecting your designer. Design professionals with experience rehabilitation work can assist with this process and help ensure that the contractor is properly qualified.
- Construction Administration – This component of services typically includes site visits to review the progress and quality of work being done. In addition the design professional can verify that work is being preformed as indicated on the Construction Documents.
Selecting the right design professional to work with can be a critical factor in the success of the project and your overall enjoyment of the process.