Understanding The Fine Print Of Working With An Interior Designer

It is a very exciting time when you hire an interior designer. The anticipation of seeing the final result can often keep our clients giddy for most of the project. But what happens when you receive a charge for something you didn’t expect? Or your project gets moved back because you forgot to respond to an email?

In this article, we explore some of the most frequently asked questions we get when it comes to understanding the fine print of working with a designer.

Procurement and Administration Time

This one is a hot topic and can sometimes be confusing for clients to understand how much administrative and procurement work goes into each and every project. Administration time allows every member of your project to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the finished design matches your vision. This is a time heavy, but necessary, part of hiring an interior design firm which ensures that everyone involved in the project has all of the detailed and up to date information in a timely manner.

Administration and procurement time includes:

  • Corresponding with clients, trades, and suppliers through phone or email (to keep everyone involved in the project informed)
  • Couriering of samples (to ensure we are all looking at the same product and understand all specifications)
  • Quoting products and services (so we receive accurate pricing that includes all elements)
  • Ordering, tracking, and inspecting product (so we can resolve any potential delays or issues quickly)
  • Updating specification documents (so everyone working on your project has the correct information)
  • Preparing documents for meeting preparation (so we can show you our design vision in person) 

Billing for Deficiencies

Deficiencies are those little “at the end” bits that almost always need adjusting. Sometimes furniture or products arrive damaged or are defective and we need to re-order. Other times, we have trades that need to get in for touch ups. If these deficiencies are the fault of our firm, we do not bill for this time.  However, more often than not, these deficiencies are just a part of the project and are the responsibility of us to coordinate on your behalf, meaning it is billable time.

The best way for us to explain billable time to our clients is to say, if you hadn’t hired our firm to take care of design management, this would be time and work you would need to do on your own in order to finish the project.

If you would have to do it without a designer, we have to charge for it.

Being an Informed Client

We want our clients to be informed about how we operate and how we move through the process. This means that we need to stay in touch with our clients on a pretty regular basis. This also requires work on our clients part to be present during meetings, to read and respond to emails, and most importantly, to understand the letter of agreement. 

We use email as our preferred means of communication. This is for a number of reasons: 

  • It is easily tracked if we need to search for information
  • It’s very convenient for most of our clients
  • It allows us to communicate clearly with our clients

However, when clients go MIA and don’t respond to emails, it ends up causing delays in projects. Responding to our emails and questions in a timely manner means that our communication will be seamless and there will be no delays due to a non-response. We send our clients regular updates on Fridays that ensure our clients are in the know on their projects.

We read our entire agreement outloud, word for word, along with our clients at the end of the Initial Consultation so we can start off our new relationship with complete transparency. When our clients spend this time on their phone, or generally distracted by other things in life, we can almost guarantee that questions will arise throughout the project that could have been avoided had they fully reviewed the letter of agreement.

Being present throughout this conversation is very important so we ask all clients to put down their phones and read the agreement along with us – after all, you are signing a contract and you should have a full understanding of what you are signing!

questions or comments

Was there anything included in this post that surprised you? Do you have any specifc questions about working with an Interior designer? We would love to hear from you in the comments section!

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