Have Some Home Remodel Questions...

Updated on May 04, 2012
L.K. asks from Lafayette, CA
6 answers

SO, we are thinking about redoing our kitchen and possibly adding on to our home. My question is, if you have remodeled your home, did you use an architect and designer? Or, just an architect? Were you able to save money in any way? It seems like there are so many options: kitchen designer, architect, engineer, etc. Would love to hear others experience with this...


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answers from Los Angeles on

As an interior designer I can tell you most people don't hire one. If you don't, your architect may give you direction so you can select your own finishes. Some architects like to do some interior design. If you have an eye and are willing to take the time to research products and feel confident in pulling things together, then you'll be fine. A designer will almost always make for a more coherent and put together design, but they come with a price tag. if you don't hire one, your architect will likely send you to do your owns selections where you will get decent assistance. FYI, appliances are the first hurdle in designing your kitchen, since nothing will get fine tuned until the actual ones you want to use are specified. And even to work up a rough idea your designer/ architect will want a program from you (a list of your must haves, like double ovens, built- in vs fee standing, 48" cook top vs. the standard 36"....). Shopping appliances takes a long time and much to your dismay, your architect or designer are not likely to specify them for you (except the finish) since kitchen appliances are such a personal thing.

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answers from San Francisco on

We've done "add-on" and kitchen remodels. We hired an architect for the add-on (required by SJ), and did the actual work ourselves. His work was worth every penny! The kitchen remodel did not involve major wall moving, though permits were required for the electrical and gas upgrades. As to the kitchen, the layout of the room is determined by cabinet placement. We found a place, Santa Cruz Kitchen & Bath in Saratoga, that sent someone out at no charge and with no commitment to purchase, looked at our space and a week later presented us with a design which we could take home and review. We asked for a few changes and ultimately purchased our cabinets (to be installed by them) from them. The rest of the work we did ourselves or sub contracted out. We discovered in that process, that many places specializing in kitchen remodels, complete with design kitchen showrooms, will draw up the plans and sell you a a full package on the work. You don't get to take the plans with you until you sign a contract. If you're not sure about which cabinet style goes with which granite, etc an interior decorator can be of assistance. I was pretty clear on the look I wanted so made my own choices. The gentleman working on our cabinets gave us excellent referrals for granite, stone, fixtures, etc. Seaching for the components takes time. Plan ahead, purchase everything you need and have it on your property BEFORE you begin tear out. Our kitchen took about 45 days, start to finish (15 days longer than anticipated due to a snaphew with the cabinet install). We have friends whose kitchens took months to complete because they hadn't planned ahead and totally prepared everything before starting work.
Have fun with your project!



answers from Sacramento on

I am a land use planner for a private company and I get permits for people remodeling their home, business and many other things. I also just did a major remodel on our house. It is much more expensive to hire both an architect and an engineer. If you will be doing structural changes/additions I always suggest on hiring an engineer that has designers that work out of their office. There are many engineers out there that also do really beautiful designs. They know the building codes and can also do a nice layout for your kitchen, etc. We hired a contractor to do just the "rough" construction and are finishing it ourselves to save money. It can be hard because I just want it done but we are plugging along and will be done in a year or so. A couple of tips: order windows that are not custom sizes and try to get special order items through home depot, etc. rather than specialty stores. Much cheaper!


answers from San Francisco on

I am a construction manager by trade, so when we did a major addition, we hired an architect and an engineer (required because we were changing the roofline and removing a load-bearing wall). We did not hire a designer, BUT that was because A) I do this all the time for work, and B) I made a point of hiring an architect who has won awards due to her kitchen and bathroom designs.

My advice would be this. If you are adding on to your home, then you'll need a permit, which will mean that you have to hire an architect. Do your homework on this - check out the architect's portfolio, ask for references, and check them. Many times, if an engineer is required, the architect will have someone they've worked with before - unless you know an engineer, you're probably fine using whoever the architect prefers. (Actually, we used a fantastic architect in Walnut Creek if you want her name - I just noticed you're in Lafayette.)

If all you're doing is remodeling your kitchen, you can do just as good a job as anybody designing it yourself. Again, do your homework. Go to home design centers, IKEA, Lowe's, Ferguson's - see what you like. Snoop around in your friends' kitchens and see what good stuff they have that you might like. You know how you use your kitchen and what you want from it. You know what you hate about the kitchen you already have. Start there, and figure out the must-haves, and then everything else will fall into place.

Have fun - I'm so jealous. We are a few months from buying our next project house. I love kitchen remodels. So much fun!


answers from New York on

(Disclosure! I am an architect.)
So, it really depends on a few things: 1) where you live - if they REQUIRE a licensed professional's stamp on your plans, 2) how much you're planning to do, and 3) if you're affecting the structure of the building.
Obviously, if you have to have a "licensed pro", you need to hire either an architect or an engineer. No options there.
If you're just doing an interior remodel - I'd say probably not - you live in your home, you know what "style" is to your liking - if you're just replacing cabinets and light fixtures, there's really no need. (UNLESS of course, you're going all high-end, and you need someone with an in to get you into the showrooms and granite supply houses...)
If you're going to move walls and openings and change roof lines - HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. We know the most efficient way to rework the structure, and we can foresee the extent of work accurately enough to give you an idea of costs and timelines. (General contractors and builders tend to low-ball that kind of stuff; sorry - I know it sounds prejudiced - but my opinion is based on 15 years of experience reviewing bid packages and doing construction oversight.) Yes, you'll have to pay the professional's fee - but it will probably save you money in the long run. Good luck!



answers from Jackson on

It really depends on how extensive the project is and how creative you are. More importantly, the structural boundaries have to be taken into consideration. We remodeled our old house before we built our new house. It was a lot of work, but since I enjoy that sort of thing, it was a lot of fun also. I took measurements of every room and drew a floorplan almost to scale. I tweaked the floorplan so that it would flow to my liking. I thought about how I like to move in my space and created my design from there. By moving an existing kitchen wall over a couple of feet, I was able to get a larger master bedroom. On the other side of the bedroom, I moved another wall and built a walk-in closet and a private bath. By doing this, I eliminated a middle bedroom, but having a second bath and a walk-in closet was worth it. I ended up with a totally new house/floorplan without adding any square footage. It took about three months of planning on paper (I'm not architect...lol) and about a year to complete the project. This included gutting the entire kitchen and installing new cabinets, stove, dishwasher, sink, fridge, flooring, bathtubs, vanities, toilets, plumbing, new gas lines and re-wiring the entire house. Of course we called in professionals for the plumbing and electrical work. Everything else was pure sweat equity. You will miss having nights and weekends to yourself but you can do it!

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