So you're not the perfect blend of Martha Stewart and Bob Vila. That's all
right. Your home can still look the way you imagine with a little help from
your area architects or designers.
The first step to remodeling your home is to determine whether you will need
an architect or a designer. Generally speaking, you need an architect if
you plan to tear down or move walls. Some research on the Internet or at
your local library should provide you with a good sense of which one is the
right person for your job. Once this is determined, contact several
architects or designers the area and begin the interview process. Interview
several candidates to get some perspective on the different options
available to you.
During the interview, find out what credentials your candidates hold in
their fields, but don't stop there. Once you have learned the credentials,
ask what organizations monitor these credentials, and find out what the
candidates did to earn these credentials.
Find out how long the candidate has worked in your area. Generally, the
longer the person has worked in one area, the better. It is difficult to do
business in one locale for a long time with a bad reputation hovering in the
Ask your candidates if they have any completed projects you could tour to
learn more about their ability and style. This may also give you an
opportunity to talk to former clients face to face. Be sure to ask for
references, and, of course, be wary if your candidate is reluctant to give
While "how much will this cost" is an important question, also ask how your
candidate will be paid. What up front fees must you pay and what amount
will be charged throughout the process? Find out if you will be charged to
make changes to the plans while in the floor-plan stage. And, asking what
would happen if the project goes over budget will help you determine who
will be responsible to pay for any changes necessary to scale back the
Be clear about the kind of services your candidate will provide. You will
find a range of responses to this question. Some candidates will only draw
up the plans and then turn them over to you to implement. Others will draw
the plans and work on the project to the end by overseeing the contractors.
In the same vein, ask the person you are interviewing what they can do to
"show" you how certain changes will look in your home. This can be done
through drawings depicting your remodeled home (called interior elevations),
scale models, or virtual reality computer programs that allow you to "walk
through" your remodeled home.
And remember, during this interview you shouldn't be doing all of the
talking. A competent candidate should be initiating questions about your
house, your family's lifestyle, and your tastes to gain a sense of your
wants and needs. These types of conversations generate new ideas that
expand the possibilities for your remodeled home.
Sources: Kathy M. Kristof, The Los Angeles Times