3 Types of Remodelers: General Contractor vs. Architect/Designer vs. Design Build

By Taylor Kirk of Greymark Construction

When it comes to remodeling your home, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Do I want to do this project myself or hire out professionals? Is this wall load bearing? How hard is it to move a toilet? Is YouTube reliable (short answer: maybe)? How do I design the layout? Do I need a permit?

As overwhelming as taking on any remodel can be, there are options out there to alleviate the stressors that come with opening a wall.

General Contractor

General contractors (GC) are the people who hire and manage sub-contractors (plumbers, painters, carpenters, etc.). GCs should have knowledge on the process of building a house without having to know the full in-depth detail of each aspect. ‘Jack of all Trades, Master of None’ kind of deal. GCs know which sub-contractor can do what (and how well) and whether or not a sub-contractor is blowing smoke for more money. The way general contractors stay in business and become successful is by maintaining relationships with their sub-contractors, while protecting the homeowner. It’s a fine line to dance on and the good ones do it well.

However, GCs aren’t necessarily privy to design themes nor where to look for great prices for designing a home. Also, GCs typically do not create drawings that can be submitted to the city for review and permit approval. GCs will need those drawings to effectively manage any project. So who does these drawings?

Architects/Designers

Architects (or Professional Building Designers) create drawings for city and builders to use for construction. Architects and designers are the ones that can bring your vision to paper or introduce you to concepts that you may not have thought of. Architects/designers charge a fee for their services and may know of a general contractor to work with, but typically do not manage an ongoing remodeling project directly. There are firms out there that can do both design the conceptual finish product and follow through with building out the concept.

Design/Build Firm

A Design/Build firm is a business that takes in the best of both worlds. They have an on-staff architect or professional building designer who comes up with the drawings needed to get your project permitted, as well as being able to bring in trade professionals to work on the project. Some Design/Build firms will also employ interior designers to help with selections so you don’t need to shop for appliances, plumbing, tile, etc. by yourself. Design/Build Firms can work with outside architects/designers or interior designers as well, but if you do not know any, then a Design/Build firm is your best place to start.