9 Valuable Lessons Learnt while Shortlisting an Interior Design Company

  • Nov 14, 2022

Design: Collective Designs

The renovation professional selection process can be a very tough and nerve-wracking journey, especially since there are so many interior design companies that offer quality renovation proposals. To make this easier, we have asked a handful of homeowners to compile a list of the best lessons learnt. From this list, we can tell you that patience and hard work certainly pay off!

#1.  Start the search as early as possible

Design: Stylemyspace

By having an early start, there is more time to react if you encounter unexpected changes or delays. In addition, having extra time is also beneficial, since the interior designers might need to resubmit their quotations.

What this means to you
Jumpstart your search at the interior renovation portal, since it provides a comprehensive directory of interior design company and quality testimonials from authentic satisfied customers. Set aside at least 1 to 2 months to shortlist the interior design companies.

#2. Reputation of the interior design company is important

Design: Idfferent Design

If the interior design company does not have a good customer track record, the chances of your renovation project getting derailed are higher. Where possible, review the past renovation projects to ensure the viability of the company.

What this means to you
Perform a background research on how long the interior design company has been in the industry, and whether it is inside the CASE consumer alert list. You should also check the reviews, ratings and customers' experience in renovation portals, internet discussion forums and so on.

#3. Portfolio of the interior designer matters

Design:Neu Konceptz

An eye-catching creative portfolio reflects the abilities, skills and experience of the interior designer. In addition, the portfolio will also be able to reveal the design themes that the interior designer is proficient in. Therefore, you will be able to assess whether the interior designer is suitable to execute the interior design theme that you are keen to adopt.

What this means to you
Instead of working on the quotation immediately, find out the projects that the interior design has done first. Discuss the types of design themes which resonate the most with the interior designer and request for his or her opinions on the design themes that you are considering.

#4. Meetup with the prospective interior designer at least twice

Design: Hock Hoon

The art and science of a successful interior design project encompass strategic and thoughtful space planning, careful fixture, material, and colour selection. This can only be pulled off when there is a strong communication and rapport between you and the interior designer. Hence, interacting more with the prospective interior designer will shed some insights on his or her work and communication style.

What this means to you
Discuss with the interior designer what he or she thinks are the critical success factor for your renovation project to be successful. Find out what are the preferred communication channels when the renovation project is underway.

#5. Workload of the interior designer may affect your renovation schedule

Design: Arc Square

Most of the interior designers helm and juggle multiple projects at the same time and this may affect your renovation schedule. Hence, if you have a hard deadline to adhere to, you might have to consider another interior designer. Therefore, make sure that you inform the interior designer that the handover date cannot be changed, prior committing the contract.

What this means to you
Work out the renovation scope and expected handover date before you start shortlisting the interior designers. Find out out how the interior designer intends to manage the renovation project when there are clashes in schedule or resources.

#6. Quotation may affect your choice of the interior design company

Design: Asialand

The quotations offered by the interior design companies might vary greatly due to the type of materials used, country of origin, brand and measurements and design proposal. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the quotation provided is still an estimate based on the floor plan.

What this means to you
For a more transparent comparison, request for the quotations to be resubmitted based on the preferred attributes (such as materials, country of origin, brands and measurements). Make sure to brief the interior designer on the property characteristics such as protruding pipes, which are not shown in the floor plan.

#7. Quotation is more accurate after an on-site survey review

Design: Mad About Design

The on-site survey review is important for the interior designers as they will be able to assess the property more accurately prior to doing up the design proposal. A proper site survey provides a good foundation for them to understand the property's unique characteristics, and develop or even counter-propose an alternative design theme.

What this means to you
Set aside some time for the shortlisted interior designers to perform an on-site survey at midday. This is because the property's flaws and merits should be the most apparent in the afternoon. In this way, the interior designers will be able to offer design suggestions to hide the weakness and play up the strengths of the property.

#8. Cheaper may not necessarily be worse

Design: Third Avenue Studio

It is common to  receive cheaper quotations after enquiring a few interior design companies. However, although cheaper packages might seem attractive at first, it pays to dive into details to find out why. The reasons could include the quality of the materials used are inferior, the interior designer is still inexperienced, the company managed to secure a good price for the bulk raw material purchase or it is more efficient in terms of resource management.

In addition, this applies in the reverse too; a more expensive package might not guarantee you better workmanship and material; the company could be inefficient, which results in higher resource wastage or it subcontracts most of the work, which results in higher markups. In short, the devil lies in the details and therefore, remember to arm yourself with some basic renovation knowledge before seeking out the design companies. Nevertheless,  if a package appears too good to be true, it probably is.

What this means to you
Research and set aside some time to educate yourself on the market rates of certain materials used in the renovation (i.e. marble, wood, laminate, etc), and the going rate for the masonry, plumbing, electrical, painting and carpentry services.

#9. Average rate of deposit is around 10%-25%

Design: The Interior Lab

Most design companies require a deposit prior to beginning their renovation works and the normal deposit rate is around 10% to 25% of the total renovation cost.  The rest of the outstanding sum is then split into progressive payments which span over the entire duration of the renovation. 

What this means to you
Find out what is the breakdown of the progressive payments which are to be made over the course of the renovation and whether you will forfeit your initial down payment if you change your mind. Make sure that there are proofs of payment made, such as a signed contract and invoices that detailed the scope of works completed. For every payment made, avoid paying in cash so that there are digital transaction records of money given to the design company. Remember, it is a huge warning flag if you are told to pay as high as 40% or beyond as an initial down payment deposit!

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