Designer and Contractor – What They Do and How They Work Together!
Written for Huffington Post (By Gail Green)
So, you’ve just purchased the apartment next door and you want to combine the two spaces into a larger simplex. You can imagine the space, but you’re not sure what all will go into it, and you want to make sure the two spaces flow together smoothly. But how do you get started? You know it’s not a matter of just putting a hole through one wall! So to whom do you turn to make this happen?
You’re at the top of this pyramid as the Client: your wants and needs dictate the project. The Client hires the Architect/Designer team, who will transform your wish list into concepts on paper. After that comes the Contractor, who executes those concepts and designs into the finished space for you!
But exactly what is the difference between a DESIGNER and a CONTRACTOR?
INTERIOR DESIGNERS generally specialize in form, function, space, and aesthetics. They are professionally trained to create pleasing environments through interior space manipulation and planning, such as architecture. Qualified through education and experience, interior designers create concepts and identify, research, and tackle design challenges the original space presents.
CONTRACTORS implement a designer’s concepts, following their specified location of walls, details, and finishes; while the designer develops the 2D model on paper, the contractor uses the 3D materials to execute and fulfill the parameters of the design in a real, living space. Contractors do NOT play designer or architect, but they work with the designer to solve space issues while creating a beautifully finished product for the client.
Because these differences are important for clients to understand during the renovation process, I joined forces with one of Manhattan’s top contractors, Chip Brian, founder and owner of the renowned Best & Company, to create a list of ways your designer and contractor work in tandem to make renovation easier on your budget, timeline, and wrinkle lines.
Contractors are experts in maximizing a home’s structural bones by implementing a designer’s plans.
Interior designers keep the renovation process smooth by listening to a client’s needs and then designing and picking out everything for them, from lighting to wall color. During the planning phase, we solve design problems in our reconfigured design ideas. Contractors implement our design ideas while also solving structural problems, such as how to open up a space without knocking your house down. The final product is the perfect confluence of aesthetic idea and functional reality. How do contractors do this?
Best & Company Director of Business Development Dana Sandberg says, “We help the designers find the existing wall studs, the water pipes, and how much labor would be involved in moving them; we help designers figure out where to safely conceal the wiring, mechanicals, and ductwork that go into creating a comfortable 21st century home and still stay comfortably within your budget.”
“The most effective architecture and design teams provide the client and contractor with detailed ‘Before’ and ‘After’ drawings,” says Chip Brian. “That way, we know what’s staying, what’s going, what’s being moved around in the existing footprint, and what’s completely new.”
Contractors and designers respect clients and neighbors during labor-intensive construction.
The construction phase of a project can be daunting, especially for clients who have never undertaken large-scale renovation projects. It is that transition time when drawings are in the process of evolving into reality, but are not quite complete, and the client sees half of the picture–it can be scary for them! It can also be difficult for a designer, who is only seeing pieces of the design. So how can contractors make this time easier for the clients and designers?
Chip says, “Even well-executed building projects come with inconveniences for the client and their immediate neighbors. It takes a little hammering, dust, and a stream of deliveries to complete a project. We do everything we can to reduce the stress by clearly defining what hours we will be on site, who is responsible for carting away what, and how.”
Contractors aim to keep all of the “behind the scenes magic” that designers conjure as invisible as they can by planning in advance and communicating every step of the way. However, they urge homeowners to live off-site during major renovations, for their own safety, comfort, and convenience. Chip says, “Really, living off-site can keep the project on time and saves day-to-day distress. If a client decides to stay in the residence during construction, we do our best to make the process as painless as possible, like sealing off adjacent spaces, protecting original surfaces in common passageways, and leaving a clean worksite at each day’s end.”
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