Who’s Who In Your Home Improvement

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So you’ve decided to remodel your home! If you’re like most homeowners, you know there will be loads of people involved (many of whom will be in your house on a regular basis), but you may not know who they are, or what they do. Here’s a quick guide to all the parties you’ll be dealing with over the next few months.

1. The General Contractor: The star of the show, and the person capable of managing the entire process. Each general contractor will be responsible for the coordination of the project, including engaging the right subcontractors, and the final delivery of the work. You’ll hire him/her directly.

Be sure to keep track of your subcontractors’ names and phone numbers. You always want a record of who is entering your home.

2. The Architect: Typically responsible for the design and paperwork and can often be responsible for ongoing design management. You’ll also want to hire him/her directly — unless you decide to work with a design-build firm, in which case the contractor and architect will be a package deal.

3. The Engineer: If you’re doing a structural project, this person is crucial, for the simple reason that you don’t want your builder being responsible for building a structure that affects the integrity of the building such as a load bearing wall.

4. The Suppliers: These people will be your lifeline, the source of all your materials for the project. You may not deal with them directly – usually (once you know what you want) it’s better to let your contractor interface with suppliers, since they can negotiate better prices (professional discounts and all) as well as manage late or incorrect shipments.

You’re in for a nasty surprise if an inspector finds the work isn’t up to code (in some municipalities, not having the right permit could even land you in jail).

5. The Subcontractors: Your army of specialists, who will see to every detail of your remodel. This category includes plumbers, electricians, glazers (a.k.a. window specialists), carpenters, plasterers, painters, tilers, and home entertainment installation experts, to name a few. They will be hired and managed by your general contractor – though be sure to keep track of their names and phone numbers. You always want a record of who is entering your home (plus if they wind up in any pay disputes with your contractor, a subcontractor could put a lien on your home – if that happens, you’ll want to know how to get in touch with them).

6. The Interior Designer: Chances are you already know who this person is – the aesthetics-led style maven who will help turn your newly-remodeled home into a stylish, comfortable sanctum that reflects your personality and tastes. You’ll hire your interior designer directly.

7. The Inspector: This less glamorous and oft-overlooked party is nonetheless one of the most important. It’s easy to forget or put off the proper inspections in the bustle of finishing a remodeling project, but you’re in for a nasty surprise if an inspector finds the work isn’t up to code (in some municipalities, not having the right permit could even land you in jail). Make the local building department your new friend, and be sure to have all the necessary inspections done on time, to ensure that your new electrical system or plumbing won’t need to be ripped out.

8. The Loan Officer: If you’re taking a home equity loan to finance your project, be sure to stay on good terms with this person. He/she will hold the key (and the source of funds) to a successful completion of your project.