Finally decided to give your house a new look but don’t know where to begin? Well, here’s a candid Q&A session with our Executive Director, Wilson Teh on how to go about your search for an interior designer and what practical advices homeowners need to keep in mind before finally signing that contract.
When/Why do you need an ID?
For those new homeowners, their homes come completely bare and ID firms can help do some touch ups and customize the house to the owner’s lifestyle and make it homier for them. It’s natural for homeowners to want to preserve their house in its pristine condition as long as they can. Besides, they have bought it with their hard earned money. But they will soon realize the upkeep can be very taxing and after a while, the wear and tear starts to show. And this is where ID firm comes into picture once more – to do facelift on their once in perfect condition home.
What is the scope of an ID? E.g. Design concept, furniture selection, project management etc.?
The scope of an ID is actually pretty flexible. It largely depends on the client’s demands. Technically, an ID is expected to impart their expertise on interior design like which concept works and which doesn’t, space planning, procure the necessary permits, thorough site coordination, assist clients in choosing materials and go furniture shopping with them, and complete proper project handover.
How can an ID add value to and enhance a home renovation project?
An ID is the middleman between the contractors and the customer. An ID pledges and is legally contracted to make sure the project is done in time and everything goes according to plan. And if things don’t go as planned, he sees to it that he finds a way to solve the problem.
How do you recommend that homeowners go about their search for an ID?
Going for renovation is a huge decision to make. There are lots of uncertainties that come with it not to mention it’s usually not cheap. The most practical first step you can take is to ask among your family and friends if they have engaged in an ID before. They are the best source of insights on how the whole thing goes and if they can recommend or not. If you know no one, the internet is your friend. Do extensive research. There are a lot of IDs out there and it can be overwhelming. So play on first impression. Upon checking their website and Facebook, you will already have an inkling which ones you think are okay just based on the outlook then go deeper and check reviews, testimonials and reno forums. You will then get the sense how the firm is in terms of their work then shortlist at most 5. Meet with all of them and get consultation from them and compare all of them in terms of their design proposal, their quotation and the most important thing is the chemistry. You go for the one you feel like working with and that you feel you can trust. Then the rest, you just see how it goes. In the end, it’s really simply about taking chances on someone.
There are so many ID’s for homeowners to choose from. What sets a good ID apart from the masses?
Our preference in design like art is exclusively relative. And every ID firm is likely equally capable of doing the same job as the other. So you can’t purely judge how good an ID firm is just based on their portfolio. Just like in any product or service, there will be promises. But how committed a firm is in terms of period should pretty much set them apart from the rest. So look for those who have a strong commitment to customer service.
What are some factors to consider and things to look out for when searching for an ID?
It really depends on the priority of the customer. If they are budget-conscious, they just need to simply seek those who can offer the lowest. If your budget is open, then go for those who have a good background in doing high-end projects. Like in any business practice, quality comes at a price. Of course, just because they promise quality doesn’t mean they won’t disappoint. There’s never a perfect company anyway.
Apart from track record, experience, credentials, testimonial from other clients, how do I know whether this ID is suitable for me and my home renovation project?
As I have said earlier, it’s all about taking chances. And if you feel like the chemistry is right with that particular ID, then just go for it.
How important are considerations such as the ID’s design style, personality and rapport between designer and client?
It is imperative that you engage with someone you feel you can work with. Renovation project is a [daily] working collaboration between the homeowner and the ID. Imagine if your personalities clash? So before you sign that contract, make sure you have met that ID a few times to get some sense of how he is as a person.
Are there any other important things that homeowners should bear in mind when scouting for an ID? What additional advice do you have for them?
First and foremost, homeowners need to know what they like in terms of theme and design. Next step is for them to be specific with their renovation requirements. Lastly, homeowners need to know their comfortable price range. Homeowners shouldn’t want too much and expect to pay little. Quality and quantity come with a price. Finally deciding to do renovation is a huge undertaking and it can be unnerving especially since it involves quite an amount of money. So the worries will be there naturally. IDs are legally bound to do the job no matter what. So the renovation will surely be finished. The quality however is yet to be seen. So go for those who can give longer warranties on their workmanship. This will somehow give you some peace of mind at least.
What are some of the things that you sometimes go out of your way to do for your clients even though they are strictly speaking, beyond your scope? Why do you do it?
Being an ID is a 24/7 job. You always make sure you are there for the customer to attend to their concerns. Sometimes problem happens at an unexpected time like very late at night and I will literally go out of my way, or at times get out my bed, just to visit the site and fix it. I want to make the whole renovation experience as smooth as possible for my client. I want them to feel like I can do way more as what I am simply contracted for. This will give delight to my customers. And nothing affirms that I am doing a good job more than a satisfied and appreciative customer.
What are some of the most common (unjustified) complaints homeowners have about their ID’s, and what are the possible reasons for these?
Some clients can become too demanding at times. Renovation projects are paid in progressive, meaning you pay when there’s work being done. Some demand everything gets done even only after paying the downpayment. And that’s not how it works.