When it comes to renovating your home or office, it’s important to consider whether to hire a contractor, an interior designer, or both. Each of those professions plays different yet complementary roles in the renovation process. In order for you to decide which of them to hire, here are some key distinctions between an interior designer and a contractor:

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What does an Interior Designer do?

Project Management and Budgeting

An interior designer is in charge of the creative parts of the renovation from concept to completion. They work closely with the clients to create a design plan, paying attention to the individual client’s personal style, preferences, and budget. Their job scope also includes being a project manager who hires a contractor and ensures the actual renovation meets client expectations.

Space and Layout Planning

An interior designer will assess the current floor plan and then give design advice and creative solutions to problems such as lack of space. It could be as simple as moving some furniture around to make the space feel larger. Or, it could be a huge construction project such as moving the bathroom to a different area, which will require the services of a contractor.

Concept and Design

An interior designer will ensure that their client’s property is not only aesthetically pleasing but functional as well. They will advise on colour schemes, materials, furniture, and lighting, to achieve their client’s vision and make the most of the existing space. Their design services include concept development, material selections, and 3D designs for the client to see the finished concept.

Close-up of construction worker with tool belt

What does a Contractor do?

Project Management and Budgeting

A contractor is in charge of the technical aspects of the entire renovation process. They provide construction services and execute the design plan created by the interior designer. They do not give advice on design or aesthetic aspects. If the client does not hire an interior designer, contractors will execute the renovation plans provided by the client. Contractors will also provide project cost estimates for materials and labour, making sure to stay within your renovation budget.

Subcontractor Coordination

In many cases, renovations may require the expertise of other professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. The contractor is responsible for hiring them, scheduling their work, and ensuring that they complete their tasks according to the project timeline and specifications.

Quality Control

A contractor is responsible for ensuring all the work meets the necessary quality standards and adheres to relevant building codes and regulations. They also make sure to use high-quality materials during the construction process without adding to renovation costs.

Multiracial group of architects gathering at table with papers and gadgets while sharing ideas about new project they are working on. Looking into the camera. Modern building design. Copy space.

Things to Consider

Now that you’ve learned the differences between an interior designer and a contractor, here are some things to consider before deciding on who to hire:

Is it a minor renovation?

Painting a wall is an example of a minor repair, and you could probably do it yourself to save costs. Minor renovations are cosmetic, such as installing new floors or installing air-conditioning. This would require professional services from a contractor, but not necessarily an interior designer.

Is it a major renovation?

Major renovations involve changing the layout of your home, like knocking down walls and moving utilities like a toilet or sink during bathroom renovations. This would require the services of contractors, especially if the renovation project requires permits.

Do you need a professional?

Contractors will execute the design plans they are given, but they do not have the design knowledge to consider space planning or overall look. When revamping the layout of a living space, hiring an interior designer is highly recommended. Their design expertise and creative ideas will give you a beautiful space while making the most of your square footage.

Are you ready for the cost of renovation?

Do you have a realistic budget? Will it cover unexpected additional costs? Are you willing to take out a renovation loan? Though there are pros and cons of hiring an interior designer, hiring a professional with vast experience, attention to detail, and creative design ideas is beneficial in the long run.

How involved do you want to be?

If you have an idea ready to go and you want to save on the design fee, you can hire a renovation contractor for your project that will execute your plan as is. However, you would have to be on-site during construction to ensure everything’s running smoothly. If you hire an interior designer as well, they will be in charge of the entire project while consulting you and making informed choices on your behalf.

Who Should You Hire?

Now that you’ve read about the differences between an interior designer and a contractor, you may be wondering who you should hire for your renovation journey. Ultimately, the decision depends on the scale of your project, how involved you want to be during the entire process, and how much you are willing to spend. Remember to do thorough research, ask for recommendations, and evaluate the services offered by different professionals before making a final decision.

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