Buyer Beware!!!

Buyer Beware!!!

With so many homeowners remodeling in Southern California, many people are hanging out their shingle to catch a piece of the pie. When undertaking a project, large or small, always check the credentials of your team BEFORE signing on the dotted line.

For a typical whole house remodeling project you will need a Design/Construction team consisting of: an Architect (for the exterior, building functionality, safety factors, code compliance, documentation, and coordination of the construction); a Structural Engineer (ensuring the building is strong enough to withstand all kinds of stresses and strains); an Interior Designer (for interior space planning, code compliance, materials and furnishing selection); and a General Contractor (to provide the material, labor and equipment to implement the plans).

Matthew Coates, AIA of Coates Design Architects Seattle says “In general, an Architect or Structural Engineer is required for any work, regardless of size, that affects a building’s structure or other permit-related issues, such as stairs, railings, windows etc. Regardless of the size of the job, it is important for homeowners to realize that most Contractors have absolutely zero training in design. Further, it is always a good idea, no matter how large or small the job, to have someone with experience looking over the work and ensuring that it is being built correctly and in accordance with the design intent. I would encourage homeowners to hire an Interior Designer or an Architect for any job, regardless of size.”

The use of the titles "Architect", "Structural Engineer", and "General Contractor" are licensed in the state of California. This means individuals may not call themselves by the title NOR practice the profession unless licensed by the state board. The use of the title "Certified Interior Designer" is regulated by the California Business and Professions Code.

To confuse the issue for the public, Design practitioners interchangeably use the terms Interior Designer, Interior Decorator and Interior Architect. Interior Design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building. An Interior Designer is usually involved with a building project from the beginning, perhaps even working with the architect. His or her job is to help create functional interior spaces by understanding how the inhabitants will use each room. He or she may consider light, sound and other design aspects but is also well versed in building codes and structural considerations. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. An Interior Decorator isn't involved with the design of the building or the layout of the interior space. He or she is focused entirely on the furniture, colors, textiles and textures of a room. His or her job is to capture the personality and style of the residents and express it in their space. In short, Interior Designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

For marketing purposes, some schools are calling their interior design programs "Interior Architecture", and unfortunately, graduates from these programs resort to calling themselves “Interior Architects”. Under California law, there is no such title as “Interior Architect” or “Interior Architecture”. You are either an Interior Designer, or a licensed Architect. There is nothing in between. Calling oneself an “Interior Architect” or saying that you perform “Interior Architectural Services”, unless you are a licensed Architect, (you are holding yourself out as an "Architect" without a license, and, as such) you expose yourself to a citation and an expensive civil penalty from the California Architects Board. Regardless of the Interior Design program from which one graduates, they may only call themselves an “Interior Designer” or the legal title of “Certified Interior Designer” once completing their education, design experience, testing, and approval by the CCIDC.

The websites listed below will assist you in verifying the status of your potential team members:

California Architects Board-

Contractors State License Board-

California Council for Interior Design Certification-

Board for Professional Engineers, Land surveyors and Geologists-