KNQ Associates bring you fresh ideas on designing and rejuvenating your home.
Simei Street 3 Namly Place New Market Road Tampines Ave 1 Neram Road Depot Road Seletar Green View

Aug 29, 2011


For those contemplating a home renovation, this question pops up frequently: do you undertake the design and project management work yourself, or would you hire an interior designer to do it all?

I'm bringing this issue up again because a lady recently approached me to design and subsequently manage the construction process for her house, but decided, midway, to just hire me solely for the design. Apparently, the idea of her managing the entire on-site process from start to finish works.

Those opting for such a do-it-yourself approach usually cite budget as the crucial factor: why pay someone to manage your renovation when you can do everything yourself? Surely the money saved from hiring an interior designer to look after things can be better spent on something much more tangible?

The fact is, reality bites when the real action begins on site. Being less knowledgeable about market prices and the internal workings of the renovation trade, homeowners can easily underestimate the cost of the renovation. A professional designer can at least keep expectations - and the client’s financial capabilities - in check throughout the process.

This prospective client told me she has the time to look after things on site full time, but what she may not be aware of at this stage are the stress and dedication which are required for the project. When work starts, there will bound to be many issues which need to be resolved along the way. Will she be able to convey exactly my design intentions (since I am not even required to be on site, as she said) to the tradesmen, considering that she doesn't speak the same 'language' as the trades? Yes, construction drawings may help, but many site issues cannot be solved on paper easily.

More often than not, problems between homeowners and the various trades involved in a renovation stem from lack of understanding about details (usually on the part of the client), indecision and miscommunication. Design mistakes and last-minute changes are what really drive up the cost ultimately. And I haven't even started talking about shoddy workmanship and late delivery...

As you would have guessed by now, I turned down her offer. It's a pretty risky thing to put my design vision on the line in a situation like this, isn't it?


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Ashley said...

Yes, a lot of people don't understand that design is a process. Coming up with a design on paper is one thing, executing and realising the design is a different thing altogether.

But I think it should be pretty flattering for you that the lady would pay a design fee for your creativity. Many local design firms are charging for more tangible items such as project management etc and use "free" design services as a bait instead.

KNQ Associates said...

Yes, we are indeed flattered by the fact that she is still willing to explore that option with us but - all things being fair - it's really hard for us to accept any possibility that some third party might distort our design in the end.

That 'possibility' is high. We know how this industry works, ha!

natalie618 said...

This is very real.A friend of mine opt to do it this way, arranging the various parties to do the work.I'm not sure if she engaged a designer, but she did experienced lots of problems during the reno. Some people think they can do it all, until they realise they actually can't.Then it's too late.:(