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When Do You Need an Architect for a Remodel?

Beth Asaff

Your home is your castle, and during a renovation, you don't want to trust it to just anyone. Professionals such as architects are there to assist you through the process. Learn the right time to hire one to bring your home renovation project to a successful end.

Do You Need an Architect?

Architects are not always necessary for even large-scale projects, but some projects definitely benefit from their expertise. Whether you need an architect or not depends largely on the project being undertaken.

Architect Necessary

If you are undertaking any of the following, consider getting an architect involved:

  • Adding an addition to the house
  • Changing the roof line of the house
  • Making structural changes to the house, including the moving and placement of load-bearing walls
  • Undertaking a whole-house remodel, or one that encompasses several rooms

Consider Hiring an Architect

Projects that may benefit from an architect, but it isn't necessary to involve one include:

  • Kitchen design
  • Bathroom design
  • Adding a modular addition
  • Taking down non-load bearing walls
  • Making interior, non-structural changes to the home

Architect Unnecessary

Projects where an architect is never necessary include:

  • Updating or upgrading plumbing
  • Updating or upgrading electrical systems
  • Adding or moving ductwork
  • Adding garages or outdoor storage
  • Building decks or outdoor patios

Roles an Architect Plays in a Remodel

An architect can take on several roles during a remodel. In fact, many of the roles in a home remodel or renovation are fluid; one or more people may assume those roles given the scope and size of the project.


If you are doing a whole house renovation, or making structural changes to the home, consider hiring an architect for the design phase of the project. Architects can draw up plans, pull permits and design changes to the structure of your home so that they flow seamlessly through the space.

If you are making changes that do not change the structure of the home, such as adding a closet, or you are making a specific change, such as a kitchen remodel, an architect is not necessary. In these cases, a design-build contractor or a kitchen designer - someone with specialized knowledge of what it is you are undertaking - is the better choice for the job.

In a whole house remodel, an architect may subcontract out these jobs to the right people, but for small, localized work, you can forgo his services.

General Contracting

If you are doing a whole-house remodel, even if you aren't making an addition to the house or making major structural changes, an architect may act as a general contractor for the job. As general contractor, the architect draws up the plans, oversees the hiring of specialists and ensures the work goes according to plan. This is not always necessary, however; builders and design-build contractors may also take on this role for a whole-house remodel.

Contract Writer

If your remodel is going to be large-scale, and depending upon both specs and general contracting, an architect may also serve as the contract writer. The contract writer pulls all the pieces of the project together, including:

  • The specs
  • Estimate
  • Time frame
  • Job scope
  • Hiring of subcontractors

An architect is not the only one who can draw up a contract, but if you are undertaking a large-scale project, particularly one that requires a design stage, hiring an architect will ensure that not only does the design get done, but that everything else goes according to plan as well.

Get the Right Person for the Job

While an architect may not be the right person for every job, getting one involved right from the beginning on a large-scale project can smooth out the process for you. Having a qualified architect in charge as your general contractor and contract writer will increase the odds of your project getting done on time and on budget.

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When Do You Need an Architect for a Remodel?