10 Must-Ask Questions For Your Interior Designer

Planning to hire an interior designer? Make sure to ask him or her these questions.

Updated on June 21, 2017 8:06 am

Deborah Jane Goon

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1) What does the costing of my renovation job cover? Are there any hidden costs I need to be made aware of?
Ensure you get a descriptive idea of what your dollar is paying for. You may think that telling your designer your budget of S$30,000 includes all renovations and furniture but the designer may work differently. Incidentals like additional light fittings, air conditioners, etcetera may not be included. Always get an itemised costing and don’t sign a contract till you understand it.

2) Who should I contact should I have a problem, query or issue with the design or anything associated with the entire renovation job?
All design firms have their own setup. In most cases, you would be liaising with one or sometimes two designers at any given time. This doesn’t include the multitude of contractors that they utilise to get your renovation project done such as the tiler, cabinet maker, electrician, etcetera. Always ensure you know who exactly to contact in the event of an issue or if you need some questions answered or you’ll be barking up the wrong tree when the time comes.

3) What is the warranty period on your workmanship? What happens if something breaks and needs fixing?
All reliable renovators should have a standard warranty period that covers manufacturing faults and defects. Unfortunately, this is often less implied than it should be. Always find out what your chosen renovator’s warranty period covers. You may think that it won’t happen to you but simple things like a leaky faucet, a light switch that doesn’t work properly, an uneven floor and cracked tiles are no fun at all.

4) What experience do you have working with homes in my specified design style?
When choosing a designer, you’ll want to choose someone that is versatile enough to be able to handle your requirements. Ask to see previous job pictures and a complete portfolio and analyse if the designer will be able to cater to your style needs. You’ll need someone who listens well and can adapt your ideas and needs to suit the style of your choice. If the designer you’re talking to has a portfolio that looks completely the same from house to house, perhaps this might be a good indication of their inflexibility.

Design: Ultimate Interior Creation

5) Will I be able to get an indication of what my home design will look like before we proceed with the renovation job?
Most designers will offer a three-dimensional mock up of the interior design or a selected room that requires the most work. This should give you a clear picture of their commitment to making your home work for you and also shows their job commitment to you. Some designers will charge a full design fee in order to provide a true to life virtual mock up of the space with actual furniture pieces, rugs, wall colours etc. While this may seem like a costly decision, it allows you to see the space in its entirety before you sink in your money.

6) What happens if I am not happy with the initial design mock up or proposal? How many changes am I allowed to make?
It’s a true rarity for designers to be able to create a “dream home” for their clients right from the start. Even if both parties are able to communicate perfectly, this ability is limited since we are only human. As such, it is only inevitable that clients should be able to make changes to a design draft or mock up. The best way is to communicate well with your designer and get involved in the design process so that your designer is on the same page as you. There are no hard and fast rules to the number of changes you should be able to make but you must consider that designers are not magicians and once something has been put into place, changing your mind can be a costly and time consuming affair. The more last minute changes you make, the more inconvenience is caused to all parties involved.

7) How long will it take for my home to be ready so that I am able to move in?
Designers are able to estimate how long a job will take based on previous experiences and the extent of your renovation job. If you are strapped for time and must move into your home by a certain date, always communicate this right from the start so that the designer can be equipped and know whether this is a realistic time frame. Always remember that things can go wrong, weather change and many public holidays can affect the job time frame. Constant communication will help you understand how things are going, time wise.

Design: White Corporate

8) Are you able to custom make furniture to my requirements?
Finding the right renovator for your home will require some discernment. Most designers work with cabinet makers who can custom make a whole variety of furniture pieces such as bookcases, beds, dining tables, etcetera in order to make your home completely fluid and uniformed. Always ask if this is a service the designer offer and browse through pictures of past project custom designed pieces so you know their limitations.

9) I don’t want to spend too much money on custom designed pieces. Are you able to find cheaper alternatives for me or suggest where I can go shopping? Can you shop with me?
Most interior designers juggle a few interior jobs at one time. This may make it difficult for them to be able to hold your hand while shopping for furniture. Check if they are able to shop with you or if this is not an option, ask if they are able to suggest some stores that you might be able to go to yourself. Most designers are happy for their clients to shop independently while getting input and advise from the experts. If you really would prefer your designer to shop with you, always ask if this is possible in order to manage expectations and not end up disappointed and annoyed when the designer has no time to go shopping with you. The key is to communicate your expectations clearly and allow room for alternative suggestions.

10) How do we get started and what is my initial investment that needs to be made?
All reputable interior designers and renovators will provide you with an official contract in which the actual list of services and a documented list of work will be provided. This ensures that you (the client) will know exactly what is covered in the costing and everything is in writing. This document is your assurance that all services promised for the agreed fee established will be carried out till completion.

Good To Know:
“Homeowners need to understand the ways interior designers work. Some designers are about sales; some do purely design while another coordinator manages the site; some do only renovation works and owners have to furnish and decorate the home themselves. Some do it all (including soft furnishings and furniture) to achieve a complete scheme and just a few include decoration and styling,” says Zinc, designer and owner of Mint & Pistachio Home.

Article originally published in SquareRooms Issue 103 November 2013. Visit their website here.


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