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Interior Designer vs. Renovation Contractor: Who Should You Choose For Your Project?

Posted by Walnut Street Finance Team on Sep 16, 2018

When embarking on a renovation journey, you want to be sure you choose the right person to help you succeed. Depending on the level of work you’re planning to do, you might want an interior designer or a renovation contractor to help with your investment project. If you’re new to the renovation game, you might be wondering how the two differ and what the pros and cons are for each.

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Interior Designer vs. Renovation Contractor

An interior designer is someone who has gone to school to study design and has in-depth knowledge of how spaces function, as well as how to maximize the usability of a space. An interior designer may also have decorating skills, but they differ from an interior decorator in that they can design structural changes as well as decorate, while an interior decorator doesn’t necessarily have technical design skills.

A renovation contractor is someone who provides materials, labor, equipment, and other necessary services on a renovation project. The general renovation contractor may also hire sub-contractors to do specialized work when needed.

Interior Designer v. Renovation ContractorWhen to Hire an Interior Designer

  • You’re planning on doing renovation work yourself, but need help reconfiguring a living space.
  • You want help picking out finishes that will attract your target homebuyer. Interior designers are trained to design with a specific audience in mind and understand current trends well. You’ll likely have a much easier time selling if you’re able to keep your personal taste out of design decisions.
  • You don’t have time to pick out finishes and source other materials. Maybe you’re working on multiple projects at once or you have a day job that keeps you tied up. No matter the reason, interior designers can save you time and work with your budget.
  • You need someone with connections. Often, interior designers will have connections with skilled workers in your area or specialty shops where unique materials can be sourced.

When to Hire a Renovation Contractor

  • You’re not confident enough to DIY the construction aspects of your fix and flip. A house won’t sell if there’s shoddy workmanship, no matter how beautifully it’s decorated, so it’s best to hire a professional to bridge gaps in your skillset.
  • There’s a lot of construction work. Time is of the essence when it comes to making a profit on your investment property. If there’s a lot of work to be done, having more (experienced) hands on deck will keep your project moving more quickly than going it alone.
  • You’re totally changing the nature of the home. It’s one thing to reconfigure a space by moving a window or shifting where the toilet sits in a bathroom layout, which are big enough projects as is. But if you’re changing load bearing walls, making major changes to several rooms, or going down to the studs, a renovation contractor might be the right resource for your project. (Click the infographic to download the full size image.)

So Who Will It Be?

You might be wondering whether you need an interior designer or a renovation contractor (or a mix of both) to complete your project on time and on budget. Here are three simple considerations to help you when deciding whether an interior designer or a renovation contractor is the right fit for you.

Step One: Know Your Numbers

Create a plan for exactly what parts of the house you want to renovate and how you want to renovate them. Is it a total gut job or do you just want to change a few finishes out? Know what your budget is and what kind of timeline you’re working with.

Get estimates from multiple contractors and/or interior designers. This is especially important if you’re working on a tight budget. There may be some things you can DIY in order to have more money available for the bigger ticket items.

It’s important to remember that someone else will be living in the house so you want to consider what the majority wants and needs rather than your personal taste. Do people want a dream kitchen? Do they care more about closet space than living areas?

Step Two: Do Your Research

Don’t just go with the first person who pops up in a Google search. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Ask to meet with designers and contractors in person to see what they can offer you.

It’s important to remember that cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to hiring someone who’s going to work on your investment project. You want to be sure that the work is done correctly, for safety and liability reasons.

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Step Three: Be Willing to Collaborate

Remember that you’re hiring professionals for a reason. The designer and/or contractor will want your opinion, but ultimately you’re creating this house for someone else. A designer and contractor can help you stay neutral and make decisions with selling the house in mind.

Even after following these steps, you might still be curious whether an interior designer or a renovation contractor is the right fit for you. As mentioned above, determine the scope of your project and the depth of your skills and hire accordingly.

We know choosing people to work on your fix and flip can be a tough decision, but the more planning and research you do up front, the better your experience will be. If you’re looking to get started on your first real estate investment project, give us a call. We not only help fund your fix and flip projects (and more), we can help guide and support you every step of the way

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Walnut Street Finance Team

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