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Planning a Home Renovation Project? Who Should I Hire First?

When deciding to start a renovation project in your home, it is always so exciting! But after you make the decision to move forward, who do you hire first? A builder to give you an estimate for what you think you want to do? Or an interior designer to tell you what is possible and in alignment with your goals for your space?

This can quickly turn into a time consuming process to research contractors and designers to understand who can help you and when to bring them each on. But do not worry! I am going to walk you through the order in which I recommend hiring the team for your renovation project.

We recommend starting with an interior design firm, then the contractor, then the subcontractors when you are starting a renovation project. Keep reading for more.

Who Should I Hire First?

Start with the interior designer or design firm.

I recommend hiring an interior design firm with a portfolio or body of work that suits your design aesthetic and style. Hiring an interior designer first is beneficial in two ways: one, it ensures you have an experienced professional to help you navigate the process of finding and hiring a contractor, an architect or structural engineer if necessary, saving you endless time from having to search on your own. I have spent the last thirteen years developing a team of highly skilled tradespeople and artisans that have the same unwavering commitment to exceptional workmanship.

The other benefit of bringing a designer on first is that it ensures you have a concrete plan and aesthetic direction that you love. Having a floor plan and some elevation drawings from the start allows the contractor to understand your goals, envision your space and identify any challenges which may impact the design or your budget before you spend any money or start tearing down walls.

Design by Amber Interiors | Photo by Shade Degges


After the interior designer or design firm is booked,

I recommend contacting the contractor next.

Having brought your space to life virtually in the form of drawings, mood boards, and 3d renderings from the design team, you now have the information you need to collect bids from contractors to determine who to hire for your project. It is important to hire your contractor after the design work is underway so your contractor and designer can form a relationship and have a mutual understanding of where you want your project to go. This also means your designer can help navigate conversations with the contractor and review preliminary bids and timelines.

Our clients find this to be one of the most helpful aspects of partnering with us before hiring a contractor as we provide insights into things they don’t even know they should be asking for in their quotes. Things like insulation R-values and appropriate allowances for hardware, flooring and plumbing fixtures, to name a few


Hiring your own

General Contractor and SubTrades

If you decide to source your own contractor, I recommend finding a general contractor who can hire and manage sub trades on your behalf. Sub trades are the various subcontractors a general contractor will bring in to complete work like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, flooring (hardwood), and tile installation.

If you are unable to source a contractor who has a team of subcontractors, I suggest finding one who will recommend the others for you as they generally have a good network and know the best trades to recommend for your specific project. This will take a lot of effort off your plate and remove any undue stress of researching, and interviewing the right team for your project on your own.

In our Design Build + Project Management service, we handle all these details for our clients so they have a design and build team they are confident in, without having to do any legwork.


What is the best decision I could make?

Hiring a Full Service Design Firm

From my experience, hiring a design firm that offers a turnkey design build experience, (like us at Patti Wilson Design) is the best way to streamline the process and reduce the overwhelm that comes with a home renovation. When you hire a design firm to manage your project from design through to execution there is a single point of contact for you as a client. Read more about our Design Build + Project Management service here.


TAKEAWAY TIPS: It is important to understand the process and steps needed for your project to run smoothly. Who you hire first, and the direction you go in, can make a huge impact on how your project flows and the amount of work you, the homeowner, will put in throughout the course of your renovation.

If you would rather take the pressure off and have the work done for you, please contact us to discuss our services and the options we have in place that can help you with your design project from start to finish.

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