So you’ve collected your keys to your brand new home and are looking forward to moving in, starting your new life together as Mr and Mrs. You think you could make the move in 3 or 4 months’ time… Until your renovation works hit a snag and you find the completion date being pushed back week after week.
Perhaps what is delivered by your ID or contractor is far from what you envisioned on your Pinterest boards. Or the workmanship leaves much to be desired.
Or perhaps you can’t even find the right ID to work with.
It is so frustrating, cos your new home feels so near and yet so far!
We get it.
To avoid falling into this disappointing trap that many first-time home owners face, we’ve got 8 excellent tips that will help your renovation journey go as smoothly as you can hope for!
8 tips on finding the right Interior Designer for your home
1. Have a plan before talking to any IDs
You don’t need to have a detailed plan for every nook and cranny of your crib but you should definitely have a rough idea of what you want as you speak to your potential IDs. You should build up your own mood board to collect ideas of what you have in mind so that you can show your ideas in a coherent and visual manner. Browse Pinterest and Instagram and save those photos for reference when speaking with your potential ID!
Are you yearning for a minimalist home full of light? Or an exotic resort vibe? This will help you narrow your search for potential IDs or contractors as you can browse their portfolios prior to speaking with them and you can speak to those who have a solid body of work with the kind of home you want.
2. Speak to about 3 IDs or contractors and ask them for itemised quotes
Thinking about talking to numerous IDs may seem daunting, so do some homework beforehand by browsing portfolios in magazines and on their websites. Don’t make appointments with just any other ID or contractor – in fact, the ideal number to work with is 3, at most 5.
When you meet them, go with an open mind but also remember your own vision for your home. Share those plans and photos with these shortlisted IDs and expect a discussion about how they will bring your dreams to life. If you like what you hear, ask for a quotation that is itemised so that you can easily do a cost for cost comparison across your choices. Quotations are non-obligatory so you should definitely ask for one. And if the ID comes back with one that is not as detailed as you had hoped for, don’t feel shy to ask for specific cost breakdowns.
3. Ask about subcontractors
Some of the most commonly griped about issues that homeowners run into when they embark on their renovation works is that some workmanship is not up to scratch or there are delays in some parts of the renovation schedule. And IDs often put these down to the fault of their subcontractors. We know it simply does not work that way, to expect one main contractor to handle all the works of your home. But when dealing with too many sub-cons, there will inevitably be discrepancies in quality.
On your part, you cannot insist on having just one contractor handle your home. But you can certainly ask your IDs during the interview process of the expected number of different sub-contractors you can expect to be working on your home. Ask also about a realistic work schedule given this number of sub-contractors the ID will be dealing with. That will help manage your own expectations in terms of the rectifying works required after and the delivery schedule.
4. Read online reviews and find referrals
This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is an important step of your ID shortlisting process. Platforms like Renonation, Qanvast and Houzz even let you get quotes from the IDs while reading reviews, or you can go direct to the IDs Facebook pages for reviews of the company’s work. This will help you be aware of the strengths and shortcomings of the ID firms you are considering, and you can make a judgement call based on what you are comfortable with.
Even better if you have friends who can personally share with you their experiences with their IDs. Listen to what they have to say, and make mental notes as you commiserate. Seeing their homes for yourself is one of the best testimonials for or against an ID. The 3D rendering of a design may look very different from real life, so seeing your friends’ homes is really one of the quickest ways to assess whether their ID is for you or not.
5. Do not pay more than 10% before the job starts and do not make final payment until you are 100% satisfied with the work
Payment is one of the trump cards you hold. So, when you have finally decided on your ID, don’t be so quick to settle more than you have to before your home is complete to your satisfaction.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t agree to pay more than 10% down-payment before the work commences. Tie down the payment schedule with your ID in black and white so that you only pay bigger proportions when key milestones have been well met. Lastly, you will want to with-hold the last small amount, it could be as little as 5%, until ALL works are completed to your satisfaction. This is to ensure your ID does not renege on his promise to deliver everything, especially making good on rectification works that you may need them to do if certain things fall short of your expectation.
6. Read through the contract carefully and do not sign till you are agreeable to everything on it
Put everything down on paper and make sure that you have a duly signed contract. From the final costings to the payment schedule to the little clauses, both you and the ID must mutually agree and sign on a contract. Don’t leave any detail up to “friendly discussion later” because this may be the cause of many an unresolved argument later on. Signing on a detailed contract keeps everything above board and ensures both parties are on the same page throughout.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Right from the get-go, make it amply clear to your ID that you would like to keep the communication lines open. If you want to be updated whenever works are going on in your place, make it known to your ID. If you have a preferred mode of communication, also do let your ID know. Whether it is via text message or email or even in-person. This is to prevent misunderstandings down the line which usually arise due to a misalignment of expectations.
Communicate your vision for your home to your ID, and communicate some more as the works progress. Tell your ID to inform you of any potential delays or hiccups so that you can also manage your own timelines. Keep an open discussion at all stages of the project. And remember that communication is a two-way street so you don’t necessarily have to wait for the ID to contact you – you can dash off that WhatsApp or email in under 5 minutes if you have any queries yourself.
8. Buffer time for delays and expect it
Last but perhaps most importantly, you need to keep your hopes in check and almost expect delays and hiccups to be an unavoidable par for the course. Of course, schedules should ideally be adhered to, but when things are delayed and you are hedging all your bets on an immovable moving-in day, not giving yourself any room for delays will cause you and your family a lot of stress. You can mitigate this by mentally buffering in an extra week or two, or even a month if you can deal.
This way, you are not setting yourself up for disappointment. If your ID makes good and delivers your home right on the nose without any need for re-dos, you’ll be even happier that your faith in your ID was not misplaced!