As a homeowner, you undoubtedly have a laundry list of home improvement projects that you would like to have completed in the next few years. From removing a wall between your family room and kitchen to upgrading your bathrooms and refinishing the floors, you have no shortage of things to do.

    In addition to making cosmetic decisions related to each project — tile versus laminate, what colors to paint the walls and if you prefer can lights or hanging pendants — you also need to choose the right professional to handle each job. Pros who are often hired for home improvement jobs are contractors, architects and designers. To help decide which one is best for your variety of projects, let’s start by looking at their respective specialties and when each one is needed:


    Many small projects, like making a window larger or taking out a non-load-bearing wall, do not require either an architect or a designer. In these instances, a contractor should be sufficient to work with you to handle both the design and the construction.


    If you are planning a large addition to your home, a renovation of the entire space and/or knocking out load-bearing walls to create an open concept, hiring an architect is a good choice. Architects are responsible for ensuring your home will not fall down and should be hired for any work that requires a building permit and inspections. Also, because they are trained in design theory and engineering, architects can help come up with creative ideas to solve problems with your home’s design, as well as making sure that the solutions will still be aesthetically pleasing. If you determine that you need an architect, it is wise to consult a few firms and get multiple bids to help decide who can do the work for the best price.


    Most designers do not have training in engineering, but they are knowledgeable in how to plan an interior space and can handle simple additions. If you hope to renovate your bedroom into a master suite of your dreams, a designer can work with you to put your vision on paper and come up with workable plans. Depending on their level of education and training, a designer can be knowledgeable about construction and the types of materials that are best for each project.

    In most cases, a designer is capable of handling most residential remodels; he or she will also usually work in tandem with the contractor. A great example of a home improvement project that most designers can handle is a kitchen renovation involving reworking the space and moving appliances. As you plan your kitchen remodel budget, keep in mind that you will have to factor in the fees associated with hiring a professional designer and/or remodeling company.

    Now that you have a good idea of what each professional can handle, the next project you tackle should go even smoother.