Planning a Residential Interior Design Remodel in Time for the Holidays? Here are Tips for Hiring and Working with a Residential Interior Designer

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My Designer provides 5 phases for an efficient and cost effective interior design project.

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Keep the Goals in Mind

Research, Contract, Budget & Planning Lead to a Successful Interior Design Project

Tips for Hiring a Residential Interior Designer
1.    Research is required:

  •     Assess the area to receive professional interior design guidance.
  •     List all of the issues that need to be addressed on paper, on a smart phone or in a Word document.
  •     Now take that list and prioritize it into two (2) columns. The items that are absolutely necessary (NEEDS) go on the left and the wish list items (WANTS) go on the right, in descending order of importance.
  •     Make sure that all family members are included in the list making process; items that seem out of reach should also be included. These are important in the planning strategy even for an item that may not be implemented until later.
  •     Establish a budget by checking out the items on the NEEDS list, whether online or in the store, to understand what things cost. Keep in mind that the source for pricing things determines the level of the project. A sink at Home Depot is a different level than a sink through the Chicago Merchandise Mart. The homeowner needs to decide the level of products that will not exceed the value of the home.

2.    Research several interior designers before hiring anyone:

  •     Contact the local interior design council for interior design certification or contact N.C.I.D.Q. to find a certified interior designer in the area whose project portfolio reflects a desirable style.
  •     Check with friends or family who have used interior designers before, to learn about the process.
  •     The designer MUST have a degree in interior design to even qualify for the N.C.I.D.Q. exam.
  •     Be sure to check their work and ask for references to help understand how long the process took and whether it was a favorable one. Be sure to share the NEEDS and WANTS list with them.

3.    Sign a Letter of agreement or an interior design contract:

  •     There is a lot of money involved in this process so it is imperative to have both parties sign a letter of agreement or interior design contract.
  •     It is very important that the duties of the interior designer are spelled out completely in addition to the fees and when the fees are due.
  •     All contracts need to have a dispute resolution clause in case of a disagreement between the homeowner and the interior designer.
  •     Insurance coverage needs to be included in the designer’s contract as well.

4.     Working within a budget:

  •     The designer needs to provide multiple bids for the construction portion from firms that provide a valid state contractor’s license along with a certificate of insurance.
  •     It’s important that the budget and bids include the design fees, taxes, shipping/expediting and delivery in addition to all of the labor and materials costs at the start of the project so that these costs are all accounted for.
  •     A remodel project can and typically will encounter unexpected surprises as a result of demolishing the interior and opening up walls, it’s important to set aside a contingency fund for the unexpected.
  •     Delays on a project can increase the cost due to the additional time for the contractor and the designer. The key is to order as much of the product prior to starting the construction portion to avoid delays.
  •     Another way to avoid delays and additional costs is to be flexible and willing to give up something along the way.
  •     The design professional is there to guide the project and the homeowner throughout the course of the project, so ask questions and allow them to do their job and help the project run as efficiently as possible. The designer should provide all the details in order for the contractors to provide accurate bids.

5.    Surviving the remodel project

  •     If the opportunity to move out temporarily is possible, then it is highly recommended. If moving out is not possible, then be prepareed to live with dirt, dust, noise and a lot of people in the home.
  •     Request the project to be done in phases to section off areas for living in, while other areas are being worked on.
  •     Adding onto the project is very easy to do as the construction company is there and after making progress on the project, this builds confidence in the homeowner and added items begin to occur. The designer and contractor need to provide the addendum to the contract as the added items occur.
  •     Keep the goals in site and request a timeline at the start of the project to help with charting the progress.
  •     The punch list provides the end of the project to do list, the end is near.

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Maura Braun
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