Most of our clients come into our office with a little remodeling anxiety.

It usually stems from the horror stories they have heard from friends and neighbors who remodeled their homes on their own, without an architect, and maybe even without a contractor.

Hiring an architect is the first step to eliminating the horror story potential.

An architect will not only guide you through the design issues of your project, he or she will also be by your side through the construction phase to work with your contractor and other team members to see that the final execution of the plans meets your expectations and fulfills your dreams.

Last week we introduced you to Janie Wilson and Paul Smith, the baby boomers who remodeled their rambler. (By the way, the open house was lovely. We love a good before and after story!)

Janie and Paul say hiring an architect and assembling a team of professionals made all the difference for them.

“We have a friend who did a remodel in California,” Janie says. “It was a high-end upgrade. They didn’t use an architect and they had problem after problem. It was just a nightmare. When we decided to remodel our house we said ‘We don’t want to do it that way.'”

Janie and Paul’s friend kept warning them of the problems that were bound to happen during their own remodel. “She was actually kind of annoyed it went so well for us,” Janie says.

They attribute their success story to a little luck and a lot of planning.

“If you get the right team together, it goes smoother,” she says.

“It is like a balanced triad. First, the client has to be clear about what they want and what they expect. Then the architect listens, designs what the client wants and leads them through the process of remodeling. Then, of course, the builder brings in his expertise. The triangle works when they are balanced, communicate, and all work together.”

Paul is retired so he was able to be at the site every day. Janie and Paul met on site with their architect every week, and the builder was working on their project every day. In this case, all three points of the triangle were equally involved in the project.

When they hit a road block, they were all aware of it and were able to deal with the situation together.

In Janie and Paul’s case, their roof line was very complicated. During the design phase, the team came up with the configuration they thought best; however, once the old roof framing was exposed during construction, it became evident that the proposed design would not work very well.

The team put their heads together to tackle the problem, and it was actually one of the carpenters on the job site that had an idea for the revised roof line that would shunt water and snow to the side of the house, keeping the patio clear and slip-free. “There was no ego involved,” Janie says. “The carpenter had a great idea and brought his expertise to the project. Not every architect will listen to a carpenter.”

Janie and Paul also used a professional interior designer that added another layer of expertise to the project. Although, they didn’t use the interior designer as extensively as the architect, they say they are happy they hired one. “The interior designers helped us think outside the box,” she says.

“They helped us to do something a little different than what you find in every tract house. They helped us find that ‘Wow factor.’ ”

We are not saying that if you hire a professional team you won’t have a single problem during the construction phase. Challenges are inevitable in a remodeling project. However, having an experienced, professional team that works together and communicates well will create the best set of plans possible in the situation.

When issues arise during the reality of the construction process, the team will be in place to address whatever circumstances arise with a minimum of stress and delay. There is no doubt about it: With a professional team, you will have a smoother remodeling process.

Janie and Paul are happy to report that their California friends are doing their second major remodel. “This time they are using anarchitect,” Janie laughs. “It could be a coincidence, but I don’t think so.”

Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group,, a local design firm specializing in home remodels.

Renovation Solutions: Building a remodeling team alleviates horror stories