Do I need an architect or a designer or a contractor or all three?

My wife and I have a house in Los Angeles which we purchased about 14 months ago. Built out of the crawl space is what I think is called an English Basement (nonpermitted). It has a separate entrance and a large 3/4 bathroom. After recent rain, we found that is was not waterproofed correctly and floods. Although we don't really use the room, rather than just fixing it, we thought we would look into making it a functional part of our house with a full remodel and redesign. We have a bunch of ideas for it but are looking for someone to design and execute construction of the room. Our budget would be over $25K depending on what we would be able to accomplish. It is about 300 sq feet but there is enough space on one side to expand the room out even more.
I've never done anything like this before and am unsure if I need an architect or if a designer can do this or if I just need a contractor. Any input on process is greatly appreciated.\
Thanks!
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<< looking for someone to design and execute construction of the room. >>
Architects design, and may also supervise contractors who build. Often the best combo for a cost efficient result. Simply having a design doesn't help much, sice material lists, specifications, etc., aren't necessarily part of it.So now you know where to start, right? Good luck.
Joe
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Polyphemus) wrote in message

Hi,
Not many people have undertaken a building project before, so there are several things to be aware of as you proceed. Bear in mind this simple idea below and it should help you in the process.
Nothing is simple and everything matters :)
Now with that out of the way, I would recommend an architect, however this is a small job and fees may not be in-line with the apparent work. I would also suggest an architect due the waterproofing issue and the non-permitted use aspect. I would try to confirm that this basement is not permitted. Maybe your escrow papers list that disclosure?
The City of LA building department is tricky to navigate so an architect helps here also. Based on the notion of the "basement" I am assuming there is some sort of slope or level change that would allow you to push out? Not only would you need an architect here but a structural engineer also, particulary if the house is older as codes are more restrictive in California than they used to be. If you live on a sloped site, a soils report might be required by the city as well.
I'd be leery of a designer to do the work, as it sounds like it involves structural and non-permitted work which really adds to the backend surprises(read more money) if that stuff isn't considered early. If you enlisted a contractor first - most likely he would have his own architect prepare plans and would pass those costs through the bid price.
Your budget, $25K for 300 SF is approximately $83.00 per square foot in construction costs, also figure soft costs for engineering and architects fees of 10 to 15% in your budget. Most new construction is roughly $100-150 per square foot. Depending on the extent of the waterproofing fix and the extent of structural upgrade that $25K goes fast.
It probably would be good for you to get an experienced contractor out there to discuss some options and costs based on a visual of the work scope. Get as much info up front and spend the extra time planning this out. If the contractor thinks all this could be accomplished without a permit be aware of the risks associated with "bootlegging" it, city fines and insurance issues are a couple that come to mind, you've got to assess that for yourselves.
There is more to cover, but this is some of the big picture stuff needed to get started. My recommendation is to get the Penny Saver, call three or four contractors to come out and look at it and ask for estimates and references. Hope this helps.
Greg Tate www.gregtatedesign.com
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