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Eight Reasons You’ll Be Thanking Your Interior Designer During Your Construction Project

If you’re considering a major renovation or are building a home, you may be wondering who you need on your team during the process? If you have a general contractor and architect, do you still need an interior designer? Or, do you only need the designer for the design aspect, and once construction is underway, you’ll be off to the races?


This is a common question, so we’re going to share how we work with contractors during construction to save our clients time, stress, and money. 


Yes, as an interior designer, we are able to interpret your aesthetic and style and bring it to life through beautiful finishes and furnishings. 


But we also have to know a lot about the construction process; the impacts of plumbing, electrical, interior finish materials and appropriate installation methods; cabinetry fabrication; maintenance requirements for products and materials; strategies for creating an effective lighting story, and necessary sequencing for the installation of plumbing, electrical, and other building and finish systems.


Still with me? 

Yeah, it’s a bit more complicated than simply picking out a backsplash.


Keep in mind, by the time your project is under construction, we’ll already likely have an exhaustive knowledge of the specific details about your design. Armed with that intimate knowledge of your project, when we make a visit to your construction site, we’ll be able to recognize both potential impacts of work completed, and critical requirements needed for work to proceed.


In other words, as your interior designer, we’ll have insight into what may affect project progression, and what issues may or have arisen that could impact the final delivery of your design. 


Yes, of course, your contractor and tradespeople (painters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers) have invaluable expertise in their particular trade. No one can do what they do — they are enormously skilled. And your general contractor brings inestimable value to the project, in cost-estimating, construction sequencing, construction site safety requirements, permitting and inspections, ordering build supplies, and much more. (Note: while we aren’t licensed general contractors, we have been designing residential renovations like kitchens and bathrooms for years.)


But, a general contractor and their subcontractors won’t really know the design intent the way we do as your interior designer. Not even close. 


We’re the only people who can see the BIG picture (oftentimes even more than our clients can - which is what makes us so good at our job!) and know how construction activities may impact proper execution of the approved design. 


We’ve seen many, many examples of installation and fabrication issues in completed homes. Meaning, the design wasn’t implemented properly. Had an interior designer been onsite during the critical time when certain events occurred, those issues may have been easily avoided.


So, here’s a glimpse into how we support our clients during the construction phase of a project.


01 | We are the point person for all questions or concerns that arise regarding the design of the space. 

Because we are familiar with the nitty gritty aspects of EVERYTHING design-related in a project, we are consulted throughout the project on anything that might impact the final outcome. 


In a typical large scale renovation or build, we typically save our clients a minimum of at least 70 hours throughout the construction phase of a typical 12 month project. This time and stress saver is often cited as one of the top benefits of working with us. Our clients get to enjoy the process whilst living their normal, busy lives, knowing we've got them covered.


02 | We provide specific instructions to installers or tradespeople. 

Once the design is approved by our clients, we provide thorough documentation of the design via plans, elevation drawings, detail drawings, and specification sheets. Our clients are always amazed when they see the size of their spec books that include details on every single thing chosen for their project, plus drawings for installation, when applicable. No detail goes unturned! Our contractors receive all the detailed drawings and specs electronically prior to the project, but we also post QR codes on the project site so any subcontractor can easily access the plans and important details quickly (and keep them from contacting you with unnecessary questions).


But even with these detailed documents provided, questions do still come up. Relying on the installers to guess at the designer’s intent is definitely not the way to go. We WANT to be consulted throughout construction to make sure any changes that need to happen in field are aligned with our client’s overall vision for their home. (That's why our contact information is found on every page and on the QR code sheet posted on site -- just in case they want to confirm something.)


03 | We answer questions installers and fabricators have about products, materials, and furnishings. 

For example, if something came up related to extended lead time on an item already approved, we are there to determine whether the delay will impact the project, or whether another choice should be made. And if we decide another choice should be made, we’re there to make the new selection and ensure it works with the other elements already chosen. We would never want our our clients scrambling to pick something on a moment’s notice, hoping it will work!


04 | We ensure the installation matches the design intent. 

There may be instances where something needs to be installed a certain way for the purpose of aligning with a detail of another component —a domino effect. The installer may not realize this. But because we have a big picture view of the project, we’re able to make sure everything progresses according to plan, and in accordance with our client’s intended design outcome. 


05 | We troubleshoot unforeseen issues that arise during construction

It’s inevitable that — during demolition, or even construction— something problematic will happen. (In fact, we recommend to our clients to have an additional 10% of the total construction budget in a contingency fund just for situations like these.) 


Maybe walls are not plumb, or a mechanical chase or plumbing lines were hidden within walls in unexpected places. 


We are known for being excellent creative problem solvers. We come in to determine the optimal course of action to deal with the issue and provide our client with our recommendations so they don’t feel alone in making decisions during a stressful construction project. 


06 | We help make on-the-fly decisions when it comes to changes. 

As much as we’d love to say once the design is approved, nothing changes, but things can happen in a construction project. When that occurs, it’s essential that some changes will need to be made once construction is underway.  


We work alongside the construction team and our clients to assist with and review change orders. A “change order” is an official document that details the approval of a change to any aspect of the project — whether it’s the design of a specific feature, the elimination of an element, or the addition of a detail not originally specified. You do NOT want to risk any change discussed being forgotten, misinterpreted, or overlooked. Having this paper trail is always a good idea.


Not to mention, because these change orders are official documents, if work is done incorrectly or charged incorrectly, you can refer back to the original plan documents and the change order to find a remedy. 


07 | We advocate for our clients to ensure everything is done right the first time

Let’s say the plumber is just about to install the garbage control switch to the right of the sink, but the homeowner is left-handed. Or say that the same plumber is installing the shower head at standard height, but the client is particularly tall. These, among many other things, are the details a designer can help ensure are executed with the client’s best interest in mind.


08 | We open our clients’ eyes to what is possible. 

When our clients are building a home or tackling a large-scale renovation, they want to make sure they’re investing their money wisely. Their choices should make sense for their current life stage as well as their future life stage. Timeless design is key. Yes, you can change just about anything in a home with a good construction team, but it’s important to get it right the first time. 


We provide insights and ideas into what is possible - what we’ve seen done on other projects that turned out beautifully, ways they add more natural light or avoid future function issues by making simple changes, selections they can make that will create a timeless look they’ll love for years to come.


With over a decade of experience, we’ve seen a lot. Our ideal project is one where we are brought on in the beginning so we can help our clients fully maximize the investment in their renovation project. By beginning, we even mean at the point when you are finalizing the budget piece with you builder. We help ensure those numbers align with the design choices that our average clients make.


 

Having an interior designer involved during the construction phase of your project ensures you won’t live with regret that something wasn’t executed exactly to your liking, or that you missed an opportunity to make your home truly unique and perfect for your needs. And, as you might guess from reading this post, we save our clients hundreds of hours of time and years of stress simply by being there from start to finish. 


If you’re about to embark on a large-scale renovation or new build project and don’t want to do it alone, we’d love to chat with you. Click here to submit a project inquiry form.



Because examples are fun. In this new build, something was up with the paint in the primary suite. It wasn't reading correctly in the space. When I stopped in for a site visit, I knew instantly it was going to be a problem that needed correcting as the paint selection was made to coordinate perfectly with our counters and tile selections. We worked with the builder to rectify the issue and get the rooms repainted so the design and overall aesthetic would not be jeopardized. That center pic is me after the new paint went up!


The photo with blue moulding is another great example. The molding was not placed properly and was going to be intersecting some major components of the space - the front and center statement faucet for one! I see myself as a reasonable but firm person. I like to work with builders to handle any errors with grace. If it isn't going to really have an impact on the design, we may be able to move forward without a correction, but I stand firm when it will. This was a must. It would have been quite an eyesore and definitely outside of the design intent and was well worth addressing.


Best of all, I handled all of this for my client.

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