Just last year, Americans spent some $125 billion on home remodeling projects, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies - a collaborative effort between Harvard University's Design School and the Kennedy School of Government. That far outranks the dollars spent on new construction; and it means that in a city like New York, with all its prewar, multi-family buildings, condo and co-op owners and boards who haven't already been through a major remodeling project are a dwindling minority.
According to Ethelind Coblin, a professional architect in Manhattan, "Remodeling is bigger than ever - nobody is selling, because there's nothing to buy. When people can't find something, they realize they have to stay where they are and change what they have."
And, says Marilyn Sygrove, an interior designer and owner of Manhattan-based Sygrove Associates Inc., "With the availability of cheap money in the form of low interest loans, it's a favorable time to update what's been left untouched."
As anyone who has ever taken on a remodeling project knows, once the decision to remodel has been made - whether by an individual or an entire board, is when things begin to get complicated. One of the first big questions to ask is, "Do we need the help of an architect, or an interior designer - or both?"
To determine the answer, you'll need to ask yourself - or your fellow project committee members - a few other questions first: do you want to move an entire wall, or simply open up a room? Do you just need to replace worn and outdated kitchen cabinets, or create a more modern, efficient and comfortable place to cook, eat and entertain? Do you need to update a shabby, timeworn lobby, or overhaul it to make it compliant with current building codes and standards? Your answers to those questions will help you determine which type of professional your project calls for.