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[10 on Tuesday] Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?


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Once you've decided whether you need to restore or rehabilitate your historic house, the next step is deciding whether you want to DIY-it or hire a professional.

Taking on a restoration or rehabilitation project can be enjoyable if you like hands-on work, whereas hiring a professional can save you time. Or, you might want to do a little of both, where you work on the projects you’re passionate about and contract experts to finish the rest.

Whatever approach you take, the decision involves knowing how much time and money you want to spend, what your interests are, and what skills you’re looking to hire someone for. This toolkit explains different types of professionals who can help you, plus important things to consider before hiring them.

Published in: Self Improvement, Business, Design
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[10 on Tuesday] Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?

  1. 1. Photo courtesy Wonderland, FlickrShould You DIY or Hire aProfessional?
  2. 2. A historical researcher typically provides the homeowner with awritten report detailing the history and architecture of thehouse, along with biographical sketches of former owners andinhabitants. Researchers can also complete nomination forms tolist properties on the National or state register or local list of historicbuildings.1. Contracting with a historical researcher.Photo courtesy mk30, Flickr
  3. 3. Architects can inspect the house to determineexisting conditions; develop an architecturalprogram to determine best uses for existingrooms; provide conceptual drawings; assisthomeowners with obtaining and reviewing bidsfrom contractors; and develop a constructionschedule and oversee work.Tip: To find an architect qualified for yourproject, contact your local or state chapter of theAmerican Institute of Architects (AIA) or yourstate historic preservation office (SHPO). Note:Neither the AIA nor the SHPO guarantees orendorses the work of the architects on the list.2. Choosing an architect.Photo courtesy Ken_Mayer, Flickr
  4. 4. An interior designer specializes in interior finishes, includingwall, floor, and ceiling surfaces, fixtures such aslighting, kitchen, and bathroom, and furniture.3. Selecting an interior designer.Photo courtesy …love Maegan, Flickr
  5. 5. A landscape architect or designer cananalyze the existing landscape, designone that is appropriate to yourhouse, and prepare drawings andspecifications for its restoration orrehabilitation. They can also help obtainbids from landscape contractors andoversee the work.Tip: Check your state chapter of theAmerican Society of LandscapeArchitects (ASLA) , as well as yourSHPO. As with architects, noendorsement is given or implied.4. Deciding on a landscapearchitect or designer.Photo courtesy LouiseLePierres, Flickr
  6. 6. A general contractor provides the constructionservices required to actually restore orrehabilitate your house. Typically, servicesinclude securing and providingmaterials, labor, and equipment, and managingsubcontractors and craftspeople. Generalcontractors also usually obtain building andother permits required by the local government.Tip: The National Association of Home Builders(NAHB) can provide you with a list of generalcontractors who have listed their expertise inresidential remodeling. Like the others, NAHBdoes not endorse or guarantee the work of thecontractors on the list.5. Choosing a generalcontractor.Photo courtesy Grand Canyon NPS, Flickr
  7. 7. When architects and contractors join together, they become a design/buildfirm, offering a full range of design and contracting services. Hiring adesign/build firm instead of an architect and contractor separately may save youtime and possibly money. But you won’t have the benefit of an independentarchitect acting on your behalf to oversee construction and make sure thecontractor is doing work properly.6. Considering a design/build firm.Photo courtesy Incase, Flickr
  8. 8. Subcontractors provide specialized building trades or services, such asfinished carpentry, plastering, masonry work, and plumbing. The generalcontractor is usually responsible for selecting thesubcontractors, coordinating their work, ensuring it is done correctly, andpaying them.7. Understanding your subcontractors.Photo courtesy MTAPhotos, Flickr
  9. 9. Craftspeople provide specific craftsor services not typically used in newconstruction, such as repairing orinstalling stained glass or applyinggold leaf to surfaces.Tip: To find craftspeople in yourarea, check with your SHPO orcontact professional or tradeassociations.8. Hiring craftspeople.Photo courtesy vastateparksstaff, Flickr
  10. 10. We can’t say it enough: Please remember thatlists from the SHPO and other professional andtrade associations do not constitute anendorsement or guarantee for contractors’ work.Ask family, friends, and neighbors forrecommendations as well, then interview thoseyou’re considering hiring -- as well as theirformer clients -- and visit completed projects.(More on this in the next tip.) Ultimately, selectprofessionals on the basis of the quality of theirwork, how well you like their work, and how wellyou think you can work with them.9. Finding qualifiedprofessionals.Photo courtesy Patty Y 1000, Flickr
  11. 11. If possible, visit completed projects. Some questions you can askinclude:• Did the professional listen to the owner’s ideas and explain howthey could be incorporated into the design, or why they should notbe?• Did the professional help define a reasonable project to fit yourbudget?• Was the design sensitive to the historic and architectural characterof the house?• Was the design produced on schedule and for the agreed-uponfee? If not, were the changes reasonable?10. Talk with former clients ofpotential professionals you’reconsidering hiring.
  12. 12. Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips,