What happened to the days when professional architects, interior designers and landscape architects provided “complete” services on behalf of their clients?
Today, it seems as though the design and construction industry has increasing numbers of consultants and contractors – from color experts to lighting specialists – who ostensibly can help improve your project.
Are there too many design consultants? I certainly think so.
As an example, when we embarked on a simple deck extension, we were told that we needed a structural engineer and a waterproof consultant, as well as fountain, grading, drainage and landscape consultants.
In a more extreme example, when a client recently remodeled their master bedroom suite, their design team included the architect and the structural, electrical, energy consumption and lighting consultants; along with a closet consultant, a life safety consultant, a handicap consultant and a feng shui consultant. In addition, someone needed to take on the interests of the owner: the owner’s representative (another consultant). Stop the madness I say!
Indeed, the consultant mania of today is a dangerous and slippery slope. It is not only exceedingly expensive to hire multiple contractors, but can also generate a host of thorny problems. If every contractor and consultant is not on the same page, aware of what the other is doing and/or up to date at all times, the chances for loss of control and/or error are extraordinarily high.
Because of the potential for chaos, we always advise against using multiple consultants for architectural and design tasks that were once otherwise performed by the basic three professional entities.
In fact, well-trained architects, interior designers and landscape professionals can and should work together as a team – and the use of outside consultants is, in most cases, unnecessary.
So if you find yourself hiring one consultant after another – think twice! Whether your project is large or small – and regardless of who suggests using multiple consultants – the core three should be able to aptly complete the task!
“I want to redecorate, but I don’t know where to begin. I’ve watched the design shows on TV, and it all looks so easy, but it’s not as simple as it looks. Help!”
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, then read on…
Anyone attempting to embark on a home design project should be aware that interior design is a complex, multi-faceted process. Every aspect is connected, and one decision has an impact on another. Making a simple change in a fabric or accessory can easily affect the entire project, and often can wreak havoc on the overall design scheme and on the budget.
Even more disruptive is when not all of the decisions have been made in advance – at least in concept. Whether you plan to redo one room or an entire residence, knowing the “what and where and how much” before you begin is essential to saving money, time and frustration.
Following are four basic rules to consider before embarking on any interior design project:
Rule #1: Plan in advance. Prior to purchasing anything, plan your project from beginning to end. Adhering to this principal will save you thousands of dollars, as well as free you up to make the best possible choices.
Rule #2: Make a budget. Once you have planned your project in concept, create a detailed construction scope of work, as well as a listing of the furnishings/accessories that will be needed. This way, a budget can be established. Ignoring the creation of a budget will cause problems later on.
Case in point: I once worked with a client who informed me that “budget” was not a problem. He said that he didn’t really care what the job would cost. After the fact, he told his friends, “I gave my designer an unlimited budget, and now he’s exceeded it.”Easy to do, when the costs are not carefully calculated in advance!
Rule #3: Make sure your budget is itemized. Get comfortable with a line-by-line itemized budget, prior to purchasing anything. Creating an itemized budget will aid significantly in detailing all the parts and pieces that need to be figured out – and help mitigate big budget surprises!
Rule #4: Consider hiring an interior designer. Thorough and well thought-out interiors take time and are very involved. An interior designer can advise you on how to coordinate all efforts and which processes to follow.
We recently had a client come to us who wanted to take on the role of designer, and only needed us as a “sounding board.” We had done several projects together over the years, and cordially agreed. But not surprising, early in the project, I received a telephone call from the client’s wife, who pleaded with me to step in and take over. She was overwhelmed with the number of decisions and the amount of work required to keep all of the details straight. When the burden becomes too heavy, remember that designers are there to help carry the load. Often creative tasks look much easier than they really are!
These basic rules should help you plan your design project and execute it within your budget.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!