If you’re looking to remodel your home, you’ve probably started the hunt for a reputable house renovation contractor. It’s also probably become obvious that the search for this type of service isn’t as straightforward as it initially seems. The Architect versus Contractor debate is an ongoing one and it can be difficult to determine which is most appropriate for your situation.

Who Do You Hire to Remodel a House: Architect vs Contractor - responsibilities, remodel, house, cost, contractor, architect

To help you find the right remodelling partner and ensure all of your design visions become a reality, we’ve put together a guide on the difference between Architects and Contractors.

The difference between an architect and a contractor

When first considering your remodelling project, you were probably faced with the question ‘who do you hire to remodel a house?’. A quick Google search would show you that there are numerous services available to help with renovations and remodelling, most commonly divided into Architects and Contractors.

It can be overwhelming searching through the records as you try to determine which provider will best suit your remodelling project. To help narrow down your search, we recommend first deciding whether you are looking for an Architect or a Contractor. The following information outlines the difference between an Architect and Contractor so that you can determine whether you need an experienced Architect or house renovation contractor.


An architect is essentially a designer. They work with a client to understand their needs, desires and aspirations for a project, then they design a structure that brings this to life while also adhering to engineering requirements and building codes. Architects can work on big projects like high-rise buildings or small projects like renovations and remodels.


The biggest focus of an architects’ role is in the design phase. They are responsible for undertaking the research required to truly understand a particular vision for a build or remodel and the ways in which it can become a reality. This includes conversations with the client, assessment of the engineering aspects and research into local building codes to ensure the project will meet regulations. The Architect is also responsible for securing any required permits for the project. Beyond the design phase, an Architect is likely to have ongoing oversight over the project to see their design come to fruition. This means that they will be responsible for liaising with contractors (and potentially even hiring them depending on your agreement), offering input where necessary, and ensuring everything goes to plan.


Architects can be expensive. They are likely to charge per hour for design, however, may require a percentage of the overall project cost if they are engaged to oversee it to completion so it’s best to keep this in mind when looking to hire an Architect for remodelling. Hourly rates vary significantly, but on average you can expect to pay between $60 and $125 per hour for design.


Unlike an Architect, a Contractor is not involved in the design of a project. In fact, they are the ones who do the hands-on work to bring the design to life. This can involve a whole range of physical tasks, especially when it comes to remodelling.


Contractors are responsible for executing work according to an established plan. This might require tearing down walls, installing appliances or things like cupboards and countertops, electrical work or building staircases. The particular tasks will vary depending on the specific project and what needs to be done to achieve the end result. A Contractor will use their expertise to get the work done, but will not be involved in securing permits or making plans. They may, however, require guidance from you or the Architect in relation to the overall vision so that they can best do their job. For more information on the role of a contractor and resource allocation, check this out.


There is no one set cost when it comes to Contractors, just like there is no one set plan when it comes to remodels. Contractors tend to charge for whole projects so the price will be dependent on the size of a project, its complexity and how long it will take to complete.

Architect versus Contractor – who do you hire to remodel a house?

So now that you understand the difference between an Architect and Contractor, it’s time to answer the big question – who do you hire to remodel a house? Well, the answer is it depends. When engaging a professional to assist with your remodel, you need to consider the type of project and its size. In some cases, it might even be appropriate to hire both an Architect and Contractors.

To make the decision a little easier, we’ve compiled some situations where you might hire either an Architect or a Contractor.

When to hire an architect

If the remodel you are envisioning will require major structural changes, it is a good idea to hire an Architect for the remodeling. They will be able to design a project that is feasible as well as to your liking. Another good guide for determining whether you need an Architect or not is to think about the cost. If the cost of your remodel will be more than 5% of the total value of your home, it is best to get an Architect to do the design. An Architect will make sure that the project meets all legal standards and regulations, as well as being technically sound.

When to hire a contractor

For smaller remodeling projects, it is likely you will only need a Contractor to complete the project. To refer back to the cost guide, a Contractor is likely to be suitable for remodels that cost less than 5% of your home’s total value. For projects on this scale, a Contractor will be able to help you with the design and ensure your vision is practical and feasible. In general, a Contractor is used for projects that are more about design and aesthetics rather than major structural changes.

Both Architects and Contractors play an important role in the building and remodeling world, but it all comes down to the nature of your specific project as to which one is best suited to you.