Why Your Business Project Needs A Building Design Professional

Hire the Right Professionals to Save Money & Time

Business owners on a tight budget can be tempted to "DIY" their space renovations. Who needs an architect or engineer when it's just a "simple" fix, right?

Wrong! It's critically important to hire a state-licensed design profession in the following situations:

  • Structural changes
  • Changes to lighting (beyond swapping out bulbs or changing fixtures)
  • Changes in how the space is being used -- for example, changing a retail store into a restaurant (Change in Use)
  • Changes in "assembly" -- the number of people allowed in the space per the fire marshal (Change in Assembly)

Why? The biggest reason is that the State of California building code requires design plans for commercial projects to be stamped by a state licensed design professional.

Also—in most situations, it makes more sense financially. As a business person, you have a lot to worry about—marketing, sales, product development, etc. It’s neither practical nor efficient to spend your time trying to understand how complex municipal and state safety codes apply to your project. Going it alone undoubtedly will cost you more time and money than if you hired the right professionals to help.

Here’s a list of the types of building professionals you’ll want on your team.


Let’s say you’ve found the perfect space and all the equipment you need for your business. And you have a vision of how everything will together to make your business successful.

The challenge comes in turning that vision into a reality while addressing various City and State requirements, according to your timetable and within your budget.

That’s where architects come in. They would create a design plan that takes into account what’s in your mind, in the building, in the code books, and in your bank account. Architects typically offer project management services in addition to their design services. In other words, they’ll help you navigate city processes and oversee the actual work that’s in the plan.

The Redwood Empire chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) offers access to its member list as well as other helpful information on its website.


Some projects require the services of a licensed engineer, in addition to an architect. Examples include doing work that involve the lot or the structure of a building, installing equipment, or changing the way your space is being used (e.g., changing a retail space to a restaurant or a warehouse to a manufacturing plant).

In California, engineers are categorized and licensed under three practices: civil, mechanical, or electrical. In addition to their practice, engineers may receive certification in specialties such as structural engineering or fire protection engineering.

Here’s a useful guide that describes the different types of engineers published by the California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

Choosing the right design professional at the beginning of your project can save you time and money.

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