Part 2- The Renovation Checklist: Hiring a Professional

16 Dec 2013
So you did your inspections and now have a complete list of what you want done. The next and most important activity is hiring a professional. Here we give you tips on the various roles and value that these professionals bring to your project.

So you did your inspections and now have a complete list of what you want done. The next and most important activity is hiring a professional. Here we give you tips on the various roles and value that these professionals bring to your project. Some professionals are Architects, Interior designers, Specialty contractor, or General contractor. Each of these do different things so read on to see which one(s) you may need for your rennovation. 

An Architect
blueprint showing kitchen layout

Consulting with an architect is always a good start for your renovation project. If your project involves an extension, removal of walls or other major structural changes, such as installing new windows or doors, then you really should hire an architect to produce technical drawings. The architect can also hire an engineer to calculate and design the required structural changes. Though it is possible for a general contractor to work directly with an engineer on some structural design items without an architect, you may find that an architect adds more aesthetically pleasing and creative solutions to some design problems.

Some architects may also get involved in certain aspects of designing such as selecting materials and finishes, like paint colours, tiles and other décore items. If your renovation is more cosmetic in nature, involving items such as bathroom and kitchen upgrades with limited to no change in layouts, such as plumbing and electrical, etc. then you probably do not need the services of an architect.

An Interior Designer
Interior Designer

Their title may be interior designers but almost all are more than willing to design both the interior and exterior aspects of your home.

You should consider hiring an interior designer to help you with room décor items and the selection of finishes. Some interior designers may also offer the production of technical drawings to be used by general contractors. Often in the Caribbean your interior designer can be used as your client representative handling all matters of construction for you.

In the Caribbean there is a wide range of “professionals” that call themselves designers, some of them have professional credentials and others with informal training via many years of practical experience.

Commonly interior designers assist in selecting materials and products and produce samples for your review, for the interior of your home, such as flooring, cabinetry, paint colours, wall finishes, furniture and other décor items.

As design can be very subjective, make sure to review the designer's approach and portfolio carefully to verify that their tastes and style match what you are looking for. You will also need to be very specific about your budget, timelines and specific requirements. Remember that designers quite often like to recommend high cost “designer” items. Designer fees generally can be expensive but if you have the budget for this and lack the time or ability to select these products yourself, hiring a designer is highly recommended. Designers in the Caribbean usually charge by a percentage of the total job cost, these percentages range from 10% up to 20%. Be sure to include this cost into your budget and formalize your payment terms in the contract.

Specialty Contractors
tools and measurements lined up in worksite

Hiring a general contractor to do all of the management for you is not always required, especially on smaller projects, you may want to hire the specific tradesmen yourself and manage them directly. “Specialty contractors” specialize in their particular trade, such as plumbing, electrical, finishing carpenter, masons etc. If the scope of your renovation project is limited to a few items, such as tiling and painting, then you can save some money on management fees by hiring these “Sub-Trades” directly. However, for larger projects that will require coordination of many specialty sub-trades it would be wiser to hire a general contractor.

General Contractor
gypsum tools on floor

Large renovation projects that entail a complete renovation of a bathroom, kitchen or more, it is recommended to hire a general contractor, also simply known as the GC, to manage the project. The GC will be your representative and primary point of contact for the project. They will also be the point person for all EMA, Town and Country Planning and other for permits and inspections. The GC can also work directly with an architect, designer and engineer. This person or company will manage all aspects of the project for you, and bring in their employees and sub-contractors to tackle all aspects of the job.

Large complex project may require you to have daily contact with your GC, so be certain that this is a person that you can see yourself dealing with on a daily basis.