Bathroom: architect versus contractor? which contractor?


We are new to Boston area (Newton) and have no idea where to find a good contractor to do major overhaul of our master bathroom. It will be doubled in size, expanded into adjacent room, all new fixtures, tile, lighting, etc. We have a rough idea for the vision of what it will look like but need specific design and contracting help.
Two questions:
1. Should we start with an architect, or a contractor? This will be a relatively high-end bathroom, but I am still hoping that a good contractor can provide the design know-how to avoid involving an architect. House is 1890, we do not have the architectural plans.
2. Any recommendations for how to find a terrific contractor to do the work? specific names, or even a process we could use to find good contractor names, would be helpful. We are trying to avoid "throwing darts at names in the yellow pages".
Thank you.
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So, you want to put in a high end bathroom but want to cut corners to do the job right. Contractors, designers, and architects all do different things, but there is some overlap of expertise. Major renovation on an 1890 house is a bit of a crap shoot anyway unless you know how it is built. Especially critical if drain lines must be moved.

Talk tot he neighbors. If your house is one of several of the same design and can find a contractor that recently did a bathroom, you may be lucky. You may find a contractor that has the expertise to do the mechanical aspects of the job, but has really poor design taste. That is where the architects and/or designer earns their keep.
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Silva brothers construction, the this old house people are from boston.
I always thought it would be interesting to hire them
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There is such a thing as design-build contracting firms. Some of them are licensed architects that have their own construction company and some just have an architect or designer on staff. Maybe you can try going to showrooms and supply companies to locate some of them.
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Cabinet companies often offer design services for both kitchens and baths, sometimes there's a guy who specializes in remodels. Usually these companies have a couple/few contractors they work with. -----
- gpsman
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