There are two common ways of organizing your service providers when engaging in a major home construction project.
You can use:
1) A single design-build firm, or
2) An architect/designer and a separate general contractor, and possibly additional specialty design-related firms
Option 1: You will hire a single firm that will handle all key tasks including, as the name implies, designing and building your project. In short, you have one key point of contact throughout the whole process. Think, "Option 1 = 1 firm."
Option 2: You will hire at least two firms, one to design your project and one to build your project. You will coordinate the interaction of these two firms, and possibly more firms. Think, "Option 2 = 2 or more firms."
Breakdown of Firms You Need to Hire
Option 1: 1 firm...
1. a design-build contractor
Option 2: 2+ firms, a combination of...
1. An architect
2. A structural engineering firm
3. An interior designer
4. A general contractor
Pros for Option 1: Design-Build Pros
• Single point of contact for the homeowner to work with
• Fewer decisions and meetings for the homeowner
• Generally faster completion time
Pros for Option 2: Architect + Contractors
• Homeowner gets more opinions to consider when making decisions
• Homeowner typically reviews more finishes and reviews more bids
If you are excited about the work of a local design-build firm (option 1), it’s typically a good bet to go with them. There will be fewer decisions for you to make and the process will go faster. If, on the other hand, you can’t find a design-build firm who has completed jobs that appeal to your sense of design and quality, then you may be better off hiring your own architect and then a separate contractor (option 2).
The most important thing you can do in deciding on option 1 vs option 2 is to get out and look at the real world results of the firms in your area. Talk to actual clients of these firms. When you find the right firm, you’ve done the most you can do to ensure success.