The pandemic has definitely made an impact on human lives. It has made many people slow down and re-consider their career paths. Some people decided they wanted a total life change, some moved house and changed their environment. Some went for a job change. We may have had a massive drop in the number of covid cases but what has definitely increased is the number of business coaches and interior designers.
It’s actually quite interesting how these two professions are actually 100% unregulated. Yes. People need zero qualifications to become a coach or an interior designer. And as far as within your business you can be quite reactive to the advice and assess the promised outcomes, with interior designers it’s a bit more difficult. Unless you are a property professional you don’t get to see the results AFTER everything is done…
It’s absolutely not to undermine the value of interior designers at all. I actually have a huge respect for people who have a passion for interior design. I mean… choosing between 50 different shades of white is definitely not my story. White is white. Does it really make such a difference what undertone it has? Anyway…
As the interior designers have grown in every neighbourhood and since there is no governing body that would be regulating their profession or assessing qualifications it’s worth mentioning those 5 things you should really assess yourself and research for your own sanity rather than taking advice from your interior designer. Even the best one.
1. Choosing a contractor / tendering and pricing.
Yes a lot of designers come with a preferred builder in the package. If it’s a good or bad thing you will have to decide yourself. But unless you are one of those people who do not care about the price at all and are happy to pay whatever it takes, you should be able to run a tender. Depending on the scale of the project you might need a QS to help you with that but it’s a process where you get 2-3 quotes and can compare them. Sounds easy right? No! In order to compare something price wise you need to have something that will be constant. In this case - specification, drawings and make sure all that is necessary is included within the response. It’s hard to compare the price of apples to the price of watermelons, isn’t it?
2. Choosing a form of contract
It still surprises me how many people start building works without a contract. And if they sign one it’s usually terms and conditions of the builder's estimate. Or a free template downloaded off Google. Which leaves you with no idea or understanding of the risks you are exposing yourself to. There is no right or wrong answer when choosing a procurement method. There are methods that will help you get your desired outcome and protect you better or worse against risks that you WILL eventually face. Understanding what you have signed up to is actually one of the most important things in the entire process.
If you need help on this matter you can book a Building Contract Strategy Session:
Actually, thinking about it, there is a wrong answer to choosing a contract for your project. It’s the one that starts with ‘we have been using this for years and it was always fine’ 🙄
3. Payment terms
For your information, payment terms are not something that is a Rosetta Stone engraved element. It’s something that can always be negotiated to make sure you are secured. And if your designer tells you this is how it’s always been… well. Had anyone heard of working from home or flexible hours before the pandemic? But a national lockdown has proven it possible? Exactly.
4. Due diligence
Do your own due diligence. No matter how nice the interior designer is and how shiny teeth the builder has - they are salesmen. They want your money in exchange for the work. Make sure you know what their previous clients thought about their work. Perhaps go to a different project and have a look yourself. Don’t be scared to ask for company accounts and business financial situations. At the end of the day you want to know that you are not entering a contract with someone who is on the brink of bankruptcy.
5. Have a checklist
Have your own checklist of permissions, surveys and prep work you need to do before starting works on site. Have you heard of CDM regulations? You have responsibilities coming from that. Do you need planning permission? Licence to alter? Party wall agreement? Your interior designer may not know about these requirements but when it comes to the property selling you will suffer from reduced value.
Hope this helps you on your amazing project! Remember that interior designers are amazing people. But they are only people. They can’t know everything. The ultimate responsibility for any mistakes relies on you and your wallet!