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Question DetailsAsked on 4/4/2014

Do I need an architect to draw up plans for a large remodel or is a contractor able to do this?

We're planning a sizeable remodel of the back of our house including enlarging a bedroom, adding a bathroom, and redoing a deck. Is it best to get plans drawn by an architect before looking for a contractor?

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Voted Best Answer

Unless you are knowledgable in structure and codes you are probably actually way better off getting an architect. It will level the bidding field as all contractors will have the same plans to work with. It is possible in some states to have the contractor draw up the plans and submit them to the town as if you drew them. If you have a knowledgable contractor this can work at some times but besides the trust factor in having it drawn to a safe structural design if you have three contractors you are getting prices from each drawing his own thoughts as to how the project should be done you really can not compare apples with apples. I have on numerous times drawn plans for a simple one story addition or even a few add a levels and most often it is as simple as checking the loading requirements for joists and beams. If there are any doubts I have a few engineers I work with that will check beam sizes for me. But if it is not a referal I prefer to work off a set of plans done by an architect so all are bidding on the same thing. It really depends on your state laws. I have worked on jobs designed by some architects that I have found structural problems and have had to have them revise the plans for the town but still I started off with a set of plans that everyone bid on. My own home was designed by me but I went to an architect to draw up the plans for the town just to speed up the process. A set of plans drawn by a pro generally make it through the process faster.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


In addition to Don's excellent comments, especially about having a set of plans in the bidding phase so all bidders are bidding on the same exact scope of work, a couple of other thoughts:

1) If the contractor does the plans or has them done by an architect subbing to him, then he is the one doing any needed mods - and is he the one that decides they need to be modified ? How do you tell in that case what is a design change you pay for, and what is a design change due to faulty plans, and who pays ?

2) An architect can also help a lot more with layout alternatives and choosing amenities and getting the overall "look" right, getting good functionality and flow in the space, and use of different materials to achieve a consistent "feel" to the addition. Also, he/she can help get planning and zoning permits, select fixtures and cabinets and flooring and color schemes and other architectural items, and help with construction inspection as well as reviewing any contractor-requested change orders.

3) In many jurisdictions a project like this would not make it past the building permit counter without architect/engineer's plans. Also, if you are getting a loan for this, many banks will not loan on self-made or contractor-drawn plans.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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