There are many property experts that can help you design your home such as architects, surveyors, engineers etc. You probably won’t need all of them, a lot depends on the type of work you are having done. The question is do you need to incur those costs when you feel you could do it yourself, especially if your budget is tight?
I have been involved with many residential projects, from purely changing the look and feel of a home to the complete refurbishment. Without exception the project runs smoother and meets timescales with a high standard of finish where both the planning and project management has been performed by a professional. Of course there are no guarantees that there won’t be any problems but they will have the resources to resolve them quickly.
Architects are trained to design buildings that meet your requirements and objectives, not only today but in the future too. They develop creative solutions on how to use space that is aesthetically pleasing, is energy efficient with a long term value that meets your budget. They can help with planning permission and project manage the build. When you are choosing an architect, you need to know if he has carried out similar size projects to your own. Look at his testimonials and most importantly you need to have a rapport so that he understands you and reflects this with the very best design.
Planning consultants are not needed for straight forward extensions, porches and new windows for example. However, they are essential if you want to do something in a protected area, the building is listed, create something very unusual or create something not in keeping with the surrounding buildings. Plans can be locked into a cycle of planning committees and without solid knowledge of the planning laws, a convincing argument supported by appropriate policy and material considerations, you could have delays in starting your project by years. Your planning application is not only going to be passed quicker but you are more likely to have the home of your dreams with minimal compromises.
There are many different types of surveyors. However, for a private residence the one you may need is a quantity surveyor. They are construction cost and project management experts. They can advise on procurement strategies, prepare tender documents, help negotiate contacts, provide an objective evaluation for the building works, help with insurance claims and assist in contractual disputes.
Structural engineers are concerned with the structural integrity of any building. If the planning officer has any concern with the design at all or part of a building, he may well require you to obtain a full structural report. They understand both the dynamic and static loads of a building and create designs that can support and resist the forces that a building can be subjected too. You may well need a structural engineer surveyor even if, all you are doing is pulling down an internal wall as it may be weight bearing and they will ensure your house doesn’t fall down.
Interior designers give advice on how to layout and present the interior of the home that is both functional and beautiful. They will give advice on all the finishes within a home, including the interior architecture such as fireplaces and internal doors. They will also advise on fabrics, furniture, lighting and flooring. Where there is a lot of building work they will often work closely with the professions above to complete the property refurbishment, with the design and management of all the furnishings, fixtures and fittings.
The different professions overlap to some extent, and when you are deciding who to employ you need to not only understand what they do but also what they don’t do. This way you won’t be expecting decisions on aspects they are not qualified to give an opinion on. Many professionals will give you free initial advice in order to help you find the right support. Unless you are very experienced in refurbishing properties I would always highly recommend that you obtain professional help, it will pay for itself in the long run. If you can’t afford the professional advice then I would respectfully question if you can afford the project.