By Dan Fritschen

Home design is a big job, particularly when moving or adding walls, changing the grade of land, planning drainage, and ensuring structural stability. Fortunately, the remodeling and home construction industries are well populated with trained, certified and licensed professionals to help you with every stage of your home remodel or addition.

There are two main areas in which you might want to seek out professional help for your home remodel, renovation or addition. These are when designing the project or when building it. At each of these stages, you will have some choice in the kind of professional you will hire.

At the design stage, the type of professional you need will depend on the scope and complexity of the project you are planning and the laws, zoning ordinances and building codes of your state and locality. Design professionals include the following:

Architect — a formally trained and licensed design professional with expertise in structural design, construction drawings, project definition, and drawing of job specifications, including electrical and plumbing, ventilation and heating/cooling mechanisms. Architects should be consulted if you are building an addition to your home, extending part of it, adding a floor, or making major changes that affect the structural integrity of the home. Architects are trained and certified to design buildings of all sizes, including residential homes.

Certified ProfessionalBuilding Designer (Home Designer) – These professionals are trained and certified in all aspects of design and construction of smaller structures, such as residential homes. They will be competent to design electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling, and other appropriate systems for your home. The fees charged by home designers are generally lower than those charged by architects.

Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) or Certified Bath Designer (CBD) – These professionals specialize in kitchen or bathroom design. They are trained and certified in all aspects of design and construction of these specific rooms, as well as all equipment, fixtures and systems necessary to build or remodel these rooms. The fees of kitchen and bath designers are generally the same as or slightly less than home designers.

If your remodel is relatively simple, you might find that you will be well served by a general contractor with design qualifications (if permitted by your state).

The construction phase of your project will probably be handled by contractors and their work crews. Some states require that a remodeling project of a certain size be managed by a General Contractor. Some states require that certain types of work be performed only by certified and licensed professionals. You will need to check with your local building codes and inspections office to find out about all requirements for professionals before you begin work.

General Contractor – A general contractor is often certified or licensed by the state. They work from plans prepared by other professionals to manage a construction or remodeling project. They often do work that does not require a licensed professional. They usually obtain permits and inspections, coordinate and oversee the work of other contractors and manage cost and quality of the total job.

Remodeling Contractors – In most states, remodeling contractors are general contractors who specialize in remodeling and home renovation. In some states, remodeling contractors have special training and separate licensing. They perform essentially the same function as a general contractor, but they are especially skilled with and knowledgeable in the issues that can arise in home remodeling and renovation, as well as the more specialized materials.

In a number of states, some sub-contractors require certification and state licensing. The work they do cannot be performed by persons who are not licensed for the specific type of work.

Sewer/Sannitation Contractors – These are contractors that specialize in installing connections to municipal sewer lines or installing sanitation systems for homes that are not served by city or county sewer services.

HVAC Contractors — These contractors specialize in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

Plumbing Contractors – Plumbing contractors handle all aspects of plumbing, plumbing fixtures, and connection to water sources and to drainage and sewer systems. Many plumbing contractors also work with gas lines and interior connections of appliances to gas lines.

Electrical – Electrical contractors are licensed to work with electrical wiring, circuits and connections.

In many cases, once you hire a general contractor, you will not have to find and hire sub-contractors. This will be done by the general contractor. Most general contractors either employ teams of sub-contractors and workers or have people with whom they customarily work.