Finding the right interior design (ID) firm, or interior designer, to help create your dream home is not an easy process. Things will only get harder, especially for a first-timer. With a myriad of styles, trends and thousands of ID firms to pick from, it is easy to get caught up in all the available choices. That’s why we hope this 4-point guide that will help reduce your renovation headache!
1. Do Your Research
Focus on Style and Budget – two of the most important decision when it comes to designing your ideal nest.
It is important to know the design you and your partner prefer. Are you going for a minimalistic Scandinavian look? Or do you prefer a pared-down industrial style?
Talk things out and highlight what you like to each other. Eventually, both of you will need to come to a compromise!
While there is no need to splurge to get good results, money is still a determining factor.
After factoring in the house’s downpayment and future loan repayments, decide the maximum renovation expenses that you are comfortable with. As a market benchmark, an average 3 or 4-room full home renovation will typically cost between $30,000 to $60,000.
With a budget decided, stick to that figure. This allows you to use it as a yardstick to see which ID firm can give you the most bang for the buck.
2. Decide on a Full-Fledged ID Firm or Contractor
Now that you’ve got a checklist of must-haves, it’s time to choose the ID that can serve your needs the best!
With a higher budget, you are usually able to engage a full-fledged ID firm that does everything for you: from aesthetics designing and spatial planning to construction and furnishing. This all-in-one approach usually means you can sit back and relax once the designs are finalised.
Pro Tip #1: Visit interior design fairs, such as Renonation’s Meet the Designers and Renopedia’s Interior Designer Carnival, which allow you to shop for IDs in one fell swoop.
On the other hand, you may like to take a more hands-on approach using contractors to save on renovation costs!
Pro Tip #2: Contractors’ true expertise lies in construction instead of design. You will be providing the design inspiration, floor layout and material usage. The hired contractor will then provide you with tips based on their past experience.
3. Read Reviews & Study Firm’s Credibility
When you are spending money in the tens of thousands, you want the result to be what you expected.
Firstly, check that the firm is CaseTrust and Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Supplier Association (RCMA) certified. These two accreditations should ensure that the firm has transparent prices, accountable deliverables and a good track record.
Also, if you are engaging a contractor to perform work on an HDB unit, you can only engage contractors listed in HDB’s database of Registered Renovation Contractors’ Scheme (RRCS).
Next, do your research on interior design platforms such as Renopedia, Qanvast or Homerenoguru. Just like Airbnb, these websites have customer reviews, photos of past work and price quotes. By referring to reviews and photos, you will definitely have a better sense of the firm’s design ability and credibility.
Don’t forget to head over to the firm’s showroom for a chat and have a first-hand experience of how their customer service is like. Make sure you are comfortable with how they are treating you as both parties will be working closely together during the renovation process!
4. Set Clear Expectation and Understanding
Now that you’ve narrowed down to a handful of ID firms, it is time to iron out the details with them.
Inform them about your budget, overall style, timeline and quality expectations.
Some ID firms might come across as too “salesy” before fully understanding your needs. Do not be afraid to just walk away.
But, what should you ask the interior designers and how do you know if they can understand and deliver what you want?
Here are 4 vital questions to ask that will give you a clearer picture while vetting:
- What is your preferred style?Every designer has their own unique selling point and style. Hence, you need to consider their aesthetic and think if their design can meet your expectation. If the answer is yes, then great! However, if the answer is no, then you should move on to the next designer.
- What budget should I set aside for my renovation?While some designers can manage some severe budget constraints artfully, others cannot. You have to ask your designer about the estimated budget before you hand over your project to them. Be mindful, or you can end up busting your ideal budget for no reason at all. Consider both regular consultation fee and overall project cost.
- Are you a full-service designer?
A full-service interior designer does everything for you. If they are not a full-service designer, you will have to go through a lot of hassle to get all the other work done.
- Do you have testimonials or portfolios I can view?
Do not forget to ask your potential designer if they have a collection of their previous designs while meeting them. From the reviews which are written by the previous homeowners who hired the designers – you can tell the strengths and style of the interior designer that you are going to select.
Once both you and the ID firm are aligned, you can be confident in signing on the dotted line, knowing that you have made a well-researched decision!
*Article repurposed from 4 Fool-proof Tips When Choosing An Interior Design Firm by Style Degree.*
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