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Building Professionals You’ll Need For Your Home Improvement Project

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

Considering a loft extension, adding a conservatory or being a bit more ambitious and knocking down a couple of walls to create an open-plan ‘living space’? As well as calculating costs, you’re going to need to think about which building professionals you’ll need for your home improvement project.

Here are some of the builders, contractors and professionals you may need to consult during the project planning stage. The expert you consult and hire will depend on the size and circumstances of your project.

What does an architect do?

An architect will help with the overall design of your project in terms of layout and aesthetics. They will also decide which walls need to be moved and if any other structural changes need to be made. Their expertise will be particularly useful if you’re looking to do something out of the ordinary. Besides this, an architect is only necessary for large projects. If you’re just remodelling a kitchen or bathroom, you should be fine with just a plumber or electrician.

What is a speciality contractor?

A speciality contractor is a worker whose specific expertise is needed for your project. This includes flooring installation, plasterers, plumbers and electricians.

If you’re hiring speciality contractors individually, their work has to be scheduled to ensure the project runs smoothly. The last thing you want is work overlapping causing issues for the next contractor.

What is a general contractor?

If you’re working on a large project which involves completely renovating at least one room, you may be better off hiring a general building contractor. The general contractor will oversee the work of all other professionals and sub-contractors.

They will manage the whole build and will bring in contractors they’ve worked with in the past who they can trust to do the work required. They’ll normally liaise with the architect and other planning officials.

Whether it’s a one-man operation or company, a general building contractor should be able to keep a project on schedule through co-ordinating materials, tools and labour, etc.

What does a project manager do?

If you’re working on a large project which involves both building and design work, a project manager can oversee both aspects. This is a similar role to the general contractor but on a larger scale. This will also encompass the interior design of the building. A project manager could, for example, be an architect designer. This will add to your costs but might save some time and trouble along the way.

What is a chartered building surveyor?

A chartered building surveyor possesses specialised knowledge of buildings. They will be able to outline building defects and advise on specific repairs.

What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineers work with the architects to ensure planned renovations are actually feasible. They’ll calculate whether the building is strong enough to withstand the proposed changes and ensure it won’t negatively affect the fabric of the building.

Structural engineers can also be consulted by surveyors on topics, like subsidence or other possible issues.

What is a party wall surveyor?

If the project is adjoining another property, you may need to hire a party wall surveyor. In small projects, this can be the building surveyor or structural engineer.

Party wall surveyors are responsible for preparing a document which sets out details of the proposed works, existing condition of adjoining property and recompense for any damage.

What does a quantity surveyor do?

A quantity surveyor is only really used on larger projects. They’ll be able to tell you how much a project is likely to cost – taking into consideration manpower, materials, planning applications and other necessary admin.

What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer will help to choose the finishing touches to your project. This includes interior décor like flooring, wall coverings, fabrics, furniture, lighting layouts, colour schemes and more.

Interior designers can look at individual rooms or the entire aesthetic flow of a house. There can often be a crossover between architects and interior designers. 

Do you need to use a professional?

It can be tempting to tackle some of the work yourself in order to cut back on costs. Professionals exist for a reason, they’ve studied their specialism for years and have extensive experience. If you don’t want your renovation project to go wrong, it pays to consult the experts.

If you’re hiring a contractor to do the work you need, ensure you check reviews and preferably look at some of their recent projects similar to your own. Always compare at least three quotes and, if possible, work with local professionals. If anything, there’s more of a chance they’ll turn up on time! 

Get quotes from local building professionals here. 

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