Designers are expensive. My project is small and I am planning to do part of work myself. My contractor said he had done many similar projects and would help me with selecting products materials.
The truth is you can’t afford not having a designer. Designers are more than having fancy styles and good taste and know how to shop. In order to be professional designers, one has invested years of hard work to gain knowledge, skills, and experience. A good designer guides you through options, organizes the information, and prevents mistakes. Without a designer, you are risking spending more money and time and settling for a less-satisfactory result. You should figure 10% – 15% of your budget for design. You don’t always need a full-service package. Even small projects can use design input. If you can’t afford hiring a designer, you can’t afford the project.
Contractors are not designers. They may be design enthusiasts like yourself, but there is a reason they didn’t choose to work as designers. (Some firms do offer design and build services. In such case, you should check their qualifications for designing and building.) On the other hand, ask questions if a designers offers to act as a general contractor.
In the State of California, not all building projects need to be designed by a licensed architect. According to the chart posted on California Architects Board‘s website, unlicensed persons may design the following:
Single-family dwelling of woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height.
Multiple dwellings containing not more than four dwelling units of woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height. No more than four dwelling units per lot.
Garages or other structures appurtenant to single-family dwelling, or woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height.
Agricultural and ranch buildings of woodframe construction, unless the building official having jurisdiction deems that an undue risk to the public health, safety, or welfare is involved.
Nonstructural or nonseismic storefronts, interior alterations or additions, fixtures, cabinetwork, furniture, or other appliances or equipment, including nonstructural or nonseismic work necessary to provide for their installation.
If structural design is necessary, the designer (licensed architect or not) will work with an engineer.
I was surprised to find some major landmarks such as LAX were designed by Chinese American Architects. One of four architects was a female. Architect Helen Liu Fong. She designed many restaurants and coffee shops including Norms Restaurants. Here is an article in L.A. Time about Helen Liu Fong when she passed away in 2005: http://articles.latimes.com/2005/apr/26/local/me-fong26.
As an Asian designer and a Los Angeles resident, I am going to see the exhibit before it closes. How am I going to get there? Metro! Of course!