Who Should I Hire?: Project Manager, Contractor or Interior Designer

Depending on your project and your background, you might need all, none or any of the combinations.  First, what do they all do?

Interior Designer: They make spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations. They will likely produce rough drawings for your home/space that you can use most of the time as a “conceptual drawing” but not something you would use to build to.

General Contractor: A general contractor wrangles all the subcontractors, buys the materials, provides specialized equipment when needed and is the one stop shop for your project. Although they should, they rarely provide the full suite of services offered by project managers. Often you just get a fixed or variable budget with some high level milestones for the schedule (which are never accurate). NOTE: I find contractors lose a lot of time because they don’t coordinate and communicate with their subcontractors very well. They also don’t plan very well. They also don’t budget very well. 🙂 All failings as a result of not studying and employing GOOD PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Project Manager: The Project Manager is definitely a role that SHOULD be played by the General Contractor but very seldomly is. The Project Manger also operates as the point person for the project, is responsible for the schedule, overall project scope and budget. He/She is responsible for the coordination of trades (subcontractors) quality of the project, managing risks, inevitable change orders, the communication plan for project (keeping you informed regularly) and generally handles all the details.

So …. there you go. Now onto me and my project, how I leverage the three of them.

ME & My Project: My background is in project management. I am an expert at that. I absolutely stink at interior design. I know this. Colors, layouts, flows, cabinet designs, etc baffle me. I am pretty skilled at most trades and frankly have acted as a general contractor many times with a lot of success. So! The solution for me is usually the following:

  1. Find a GREAT Interior Designer. Someone who gets what I want and can convert my ideas into actionable designs, layouts, colors, etc.
  2. Hire individual contractors as needed, sometimes to handle 2–3 trades. All depends on the contractors and what I feel comfortable giving them. For instance on my last project I hired one contractor who handled 1) Demolition, 2) Framing and 3) Plumbing. Just worked out that way. I hired other contractors to fill in the other 10 or so trades I needed.
  3. I acted as the PM! I built the schedule, I coordinated the crews, I personally didn’t want a day of downtime. Chop Chop!! 🙂 I also managed the budget, made purchasing decisions, etc. So, I did some of the general contractor duties and ALL of the Project Management duties.
    This is a complicated area and none of these job titles are performed exactly the same way each time. But, this will give you a good starting point. Good luck!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Chris