Chances are you will have to pay the going rate for contractors in your area. Architects or designers will typically cost 12 to 20% more.
But remember you will want a home improvement that is done right the first time. That said, there are still ways you can save if you do decide to work with a contractor:
-Shop around for the most reasonable bid—not necessarily the cheapest.
-Ask friends and family if the contractors they refer stuck to budget.
-Root out hidden costs written into contracts.
-Insist that trade discounts on materials be passed on to you, or buy materials yourself.
-Compare payment alternatives—flat vs. hourly rates, for example—and negotiate the more reasonable of the two.
-Do part of the project yourself, such as some disassembly or prep work.