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11 Responsibilities of an Interior Designer

Consumer is always right – is Wrong. Some customers are just plain wrong. You can’t expect a designer to be your personal butler, or a person who should be appearing upon your calling. But to be fair, some designers are pretty terrible even at their basic servicing!

Hence lets dig deeper to find out more on what an interior designer’s responsibilities are, and what they are generally facing, versus us (consumers).

Interior Designer: Studio 20 Concepts

The following Q&A was made possible by interviewing Studio 20 Concepts:

Q1: Can you put my project in priority?

A: Most consultants will provide a detailed work schedule & discuss the project timeline with the client prior to project commencement. This ensures work is completed in a timely & efficient fashion. Every project is a priority & will be professionally handled with proper project management.

BUT never expect that your project manager will give you, only you, priority for every single aspects; calls, updates, meet ups. It’s rather absurd and impossible for he/she has definitely more than just you as his customer. Moreover he/she needs a work-life balance too!


Q2: Why do I have to meet you before giving me a quotation? Can’t you just email me instead?

A: Every project is unique & every client has a specific design brief. Meeting you and knowing your needs & offering is the best solution for every individual project. (Good) Interior designers take pride in their high level of personalised service for you, hence it is most important to meet up with you before proceeding with the design process and / or quotations.

ASK yourself if you’d like to have a template design for your own home? One that requires just 5 mins of data retrieving by the designer and presented to you? Or would you like the materials of your kitchen cabinet and wardrobe be chosen by picking the cheapest option available? Probably one that you see so often elsewhere?

So bottom line is ‘no’, unless you are getting a standard renovation package offered by designers, if not you gotta meet with them to evaluate further.


Interior Designer: Studio 20 Concepts


Q3: Do I need to pay for your quotation?

A: No, initial design consultation is a complimentary service that most IDs provide. Do meet them to know if they are truly what you look for. In our definition – your trustable renovation and interior design caretaker.


Q4: Why is your price much more expensive comparing to those contractors?

A: Interior Design companies comes in different operating manner. Some are a one-stop solution provider for design & build services; from design consultation, preparation of 2D & 3D visualisations, right up to project management and completion. Additional services may also include specialised services like incorporating home theatre setups, home security & home automation. In this way of operating, consumers will be rest assured of tighter workflow capabilities, in a result of fewer to none hiccups.

To give you an example: An in-house 3D designer allows consumer to even discuss the intricate designs with the project manager in their showroom.

There are of course other types interior designer firms or contractor companies. So do ask them about their operation manner before engaging.

Lastly if you’re really uncomfortable with their pricing, you are not obliged to sign up. Personally to us; cheap is never good, vice-versa.


Q5: Why is your payment terms different from other interior designers?

A: Most interior firms payment mode are in progressive order based on project schedule & is typically fair for both parties. A common mode go by: 10% (deposit) 40% (commencement of work) 40% (progressive payment) 10% (after completion).

It is within the individual company’s policy how the payment mode is derived, hence it is usually non-negotiable. But of course, you’re not obliged to sign if not deem suitable.


Q6: Why can’t you follow closely with the planned schedule and give me daily updates?

A: Most project managers will follow the planned work schedule & provide ad-hoc updates based on the job progress. You should be able to request a daily update on what has been done. Organisational skills should be at its best for a project manager, as that’s the reason why we engage them in the first place.


Q7: Why doesn’t your company have HDB license?

A: Some interior design firms specialise in landed housing & high-end condominium projects. And some of them is BCA accredited. So most homeowners will question the IDs why they do not have an HDB license? Well, here are the criteria they’d need to meet before applying:

  • Your company has been registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority for at least a year
  • You have owned the company for a minimum period of 1 year
  • Your company has an unblemished record
  • You have at least 3 years of experience in renovation works and are actively involved in the renovation trade
  • You have sufficient financial resources and a proper staff establishment
  • You must have a minimum paid up capital of $30,000 if you are a Private Limited company
  • You and any other authorised persons have attended and successfully completed the ‘Renovation for Public Housing’ training course
  • You and any partner/ director of the company:
    – Are not an undischarged bankrupt
    – Do not have a criminal record, or record of any offence involving fraud
    and dishonesty

From this list we can understand that an interior firm can only get the license by having the company to survive by doing non-HDB flat renovation works for at least 1 year, and with at least 3 years of renovation works experience.

So what the new interior design firms do to counter this, is to tap on other affiliate renovation companies with the license for at least a year before getting their own.


Interior Designer: Studio 20 Concepts


Q8: Can you propose me unique 3D drawings for my unit? Not templates please.

A: You are engaging an interior designer, and probably paying designing fees! So every projects’ design should be bespoke & individually crafted. They should never use templates or repeat design ideas for our clients, ever.

But there are homeowners who request their homes to be exactly similar to a portfolio they’ve seen – nothing wrong, it’s their choice. How do you know if you’ve received a template design? – Simply check on their past portfolios.


Q9: Are the fittings in the 3D drawing inclusive in my deal? What is inclusive? what is excluded?

A: Please refer to quotation & its terms & conditions. Accessories, fittings & furniture are usually not included unless otherwise stated.


Q10: The furniture in the 3D drawings is not what I’ve bought, can you change to my specific brand of sofa, coffee table, and washing machine?

A: Furniture by their 3D renders are proposed based on the theme of the design by their team of designers. It is not a pre-requisite to match the exact furniture. Your consultants will advise you further on furniture selection. It may not be possible to change the 3D furniture to the exact ones purchased by clients as the 3D software may not have the exact stock images of the items purchased by clients.


Q11: I’m getting my home keys after 7 months and later, why can’t you give me a quotation?

A: Putting an ever changing economy and inflation into consideration, getting a quotation that early is not feasible. You should try to get a quotation within 3 to 6 months from getting your keys.


Are you curious about the progress of a certain BTO? Anxious to find out what yours looks like right now? You can try to locate yours in this list.

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