Sacramento Bee Article:
By James and Morris Carey
January 22, 2005
With a remodel, you need to think about the high cost of replacing perfectly
good walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. Not to mention the plumbing,
heating and electrical systems.
A good designer spends a great deal of time attempting to reuse as much of what
exists as possible. In design, you shouldn't remove any walls unless absolutely
Windows convert to doors, doors become hallways, and hallways help to enlarge
rooms. People who specialize in drawing remodels acquire a certain capacity for
designing around what exists. This sensitivity can greatly reduce costs.
No law stipulates who can or can't draw a set of plans for your home remodeling
project. You can draw the plans yourself or have your neighbor do them.
However, some building departments require you to have literally a stamp of
approval from either a licensed architect or licensed engineer. Other building
departments require such approval only when the job involves structural work.
Mind you, this requirement normally has nothing to do with the aesthetic value
of the project - only its structural integrity.
If you don't have a relationship with an architect or an engineer, you may find
it difficult to locate someone to stamp your plans. The engineer takes a risk
stamping plans created by someone else.
Here's why: Once the drawings have been stamped, the responsibility for
correctness shifts to the person who stamped them. That person becomes
responsible for every mistake - no matter who made it. This stamp is usually
necessary only when structural work will take place. Kitchen and bath remodels
that don't incorporate structural changes normally don't need to be stamped.
Now about an architect you ask? Architects don't generally design small,
residential remodeling projects, because there's more money to be made doing
commercial work, subdivisions, and custom homes. Architects usually work for a
percentage of the construction budget.
If you remodel will cost $40,000, the architect would charge between 7 percent
and 15 percent, or somewhere between $2,800 and $6,000. Compare this to a 15
percent commission of $75,000 to design a $500,000 custom home, and you can see
why architects shy away from remodels.
The inequity between the high cost of becoming a licensed architect and the
small amount of design money available in the home remodeling industry caused a
whole new breed of artist to evolve - "the designer". Designers usually offer
some other product or service in conjunction with their drawing talent. The
consumer gets a professional design for less money and can purchase other
services and products through that designer.
The designer can afford to make a smaller profit on the design when the sale
includes other services or products. The consumer saves money, and the designer
makes a living. Because designers aren't licensed, they affiliate themselves
with architects or engineers who perform structural calculations. These
licensed professionals them stamp and sign the designer's plans.
Designers are everywhere. You may find an appliance store with its own kitchen
designer or discover a certified bath designer providing services for a
plumbing products company. Home centers now employ folks to design your kitchen
or bath on the computer while you wait.
The design-build remodeler has proved to be the most remodel savvy of them all.
About one-third of all U.S. remodelers provide both design and remodel services
under one roof.
This trend is one-stop shopping at its finest, and people are loving it.