Interior designer Cameron Woo, who is also president of the Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS), explains why homeowners should trust their interior designer with their renovation budget and how an ID can help to manage your renovation project.
"I've noticed that while interior designers strive to be clear in their calculations, some prospective clients are reluctant to reveal their actual budget," says Cameron Woo of Cameron Woo Designs (CWD).
Nothing should be left to chance in a home renovation project, especially the cost. Now, an interior designer (ID) can help to provide the baseline numbers and a ballpark figure for the budget. If more accuracy is required, he or she can also work with a quantity surveyor, whose expertise is in cost consulting. However, I’ve noticed that while interior designers strive to be clear in their calculations, some prospective clients are reluctant to reveal their actual budget.
This behaviour baffles me because an ID can propose the best strategy based on honest information, so that clients receive maximum value for their spend. There needs to be trust and confidence in interior designers, because they are acting as your agent to create a happy home environment for you and your family (which is often many homeowners’ biggest asset), and this process often takes 12 months or more, in terms of time, money, effort and stress.
Therefore, due respect should be shown to the professionals for their experience, skills and expertise.
ON THE ISSUE OF FEES
As an interior design professional, apart from charging for design services, project management services are chargeable too, if required.
As I’ve mentioned before in the May issue, design cannot be free, if it is something of value. In Asia, many clients want the interior designer to be wholly responsible for the entire design and building process – essentially a one-stop shop for accountability – making it more convenient for them. As a result, it is common practice in Singapore to bundle design services and construction, in what is referred to as turnkey or Design & Build. This does not mean that the design fees are included or absorbed in the construction costs. The services for design rendered need to be recognised and paid for.
This practice is not common in many other countries, such as the UK, Australia and the US. The simple reason is that the interior designer generally acts as the client’s representative, and being responsible for the construction part of the project may be construed as a conflict of interest.
However, the solution my firm offers on the turnkey issue is for the client to engage us for project management services as well, so we continue to uphold and protect our clients’ interests. By doing so, we can assist the client with the construction while at the same time providing our design services.
HOW MANY REVISIONS AM I ENTITLED TO?
There is also a wrongly placed expectation from some clients that unlimited design changes and revisions are allowed.
Not only is this unreasonable, it is unrealistic to expect any professional to design endlessly, based on whim and a change of mind.
Please remember that lawyers charge for every change of mind and revision. Even hotel buffet services place limits on time and waste. A change of mind means new scope of work, which means additional work and fees. As for revisions, it is accepted professional practice to allow for up to two revisions to refine the approved design.
Apart from designing your dream home, interior designers can also help to ensure that the renovation is carried out in an orderly and organised manner. This also allows you, as the homeowner, to enjoy the journey of building your new home.
There is – for me – nothing more satisfying than to see the realisation of a client’s new family home, and the incredible joy and pride it brings to them after a long process that resulted in a friendship.
This is Part 3 of a 3-part feature. Click here for Part 1 where Cameron talks about the difference between interior decorator, interior designer and architect. Or here for Part 2 where he talks about the risks of using "free" interior design services.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this opinion column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s position. This article was first published in the June issue of Home & Decor.