The two main services to consider for your bathroom renovation are build service and design service. Depending on your needs, you have some options for what types of firms to hire.
Build service with a general contractor
Build service would include demolition and construction services, and would be carried out by your general contractor. Some general contractors are considered build-only firms, which means that they do not offer full professional design. Even within the build-only category, there are a range of different service offerings a contractor might provide — some will strictly work with finished plans from a professional designer, some will work with you to carry out the vision you conceive, and others are more willing to offer creative suggestions and advice on material and fixture choices, or even rough visualizations for spatial layout.
A combination of service level, experience, and things like firm size and overhead might all contribute to how competitive a contractor’s pricing is. We generally recommend to connect with a few different contractors to feel out what level of service best suits you.
Design service with an architect or interior designer
Design service can be broken down into creative design and technical design. For creative design service, which is almost always optional, you’ll work with an architect or interior designer to reimagine the space. This added layer of service will generally cost between 10-20% of your construction budget, depending on the level of service included in your design package (though, not all firms determine their fees based on cost of construction — some may charge a flat fee based on project scope and anticipated duration, for example). So, for a $40,000 bathroom renovation, you might expect to pay your architect or designer $4,000 to $8,000.
Technical design expertise is needed in the form of an architect (or sometimes structural engineer) for projects like gut renovations where permitting is required. Their main role is to ensure that the project is done safely and to code.
What is a full-service, design-build firm?
If you need both design and build services, you can choose to hire a professional designer or architect, and separately, a general contractor. But there’s another option that comes with some distinct benefits: you can hire a design-build firm — a general contractor with dedicated professional design under one roof. This means you work with the same firm from planning and design through construction. In addition to the continuity, which can often save time in the process, some clients appreciate that the working relationship means more seamless coordination, which can even help to keep your project on budget.