You’ve made the decision to build your dream home or you want take on the home remodel project that can turn the home that you like to the home that you love. Now you need to find someone who can help turn that dream into reality. Hiring a home designer doesn’t need to be tedious or overwhelming and if you start with a well thought out approach, it can be a smooth and exciting journey.
First off, reach out to friends or relatives who have gone through the process and ask about their experiences and who they worked with. The AIBD (American Institute of Building Designers) or your local chapter of the HBA (Home Builders Association), and contractors can be other resources to find out who the local home designers are in your area. Next, have a phone consultation with your list of perspective designers. This will help weed down your list as a few professionals may decline due to project scale or are unable to complete your project in your time frame.
Once you have a list of potential designers, follow up with a second phone interview asking more extensive questions about their process, fee structure and schedule.
After the second round of interviews, you should have a list that is narrowed down to two or three designers and it’s now time to set up some face to face appointments. Before meeting make sure you have a grasp on your basic goals, expectations, and budget. Present this summary to the designer before your actual meeting so there is room for them to prepare and have realistic expectations.
During the conversation, be on the lookout for a great communicator and someone you could get along with. Leaving questions open ended will bring light to how your home designer visualizes the big picture you have in mind, while considering and communicating all the small pieces of the puzzle. Give them the room to point out issues you may not have considered and the ability to incorporate their creative touch.
Asking these questions is crucial to find an excellent fit in making your project a success.
- Have they worked on projects similar to yours?
A home designer that understands your goals for your custom home or remodel project is one thing, but to have already done similar projects to yours in the past and then to find them enjoyable is a great advantage. Having someone working on your project, that is just as excited as you are, shows they genuinely love what they do. Be sure they present their portfolio of comparable projects, as well as a list of references. They should have a track record that shows they finish projects on time and within budget.
- How will they approach your project?
Find out what their design philosophy is. What sets them apart from any other home designer should be effortlessly apparent. A great designer will have a unique style that is artfully incorporated into your project, going above and beyond your expectations. It is a true talent to see someone’s dream and execute it creatively and smoothly. Also, be aware of their attention to details. For example, if they fully see your vision, they should be able to suggest a great contractor that could see your specific project to completion.
- What steps are involved in the design process?
The home designer must be able to have a clear and organized plan they can effectively explain. They need to plan and account for any challenges before hand. At this point in the conversation, there should be an estimated time the design process will take for your specific project. Your involvement must be included in their plans, and they should mention what you can actively do to help keep your project on target.
- How do they establish and structure fees?
No one appreciates being surprised by fees or “fine print”. This breaks trust and the project that was supposed to achieve your dream home quickly becomes a burden. Have your home designer explain all basic and extra services up front, with an explanation of additional fees. If the scope of your project changes throughout the process, they need to let you know what this entails and how much more it might be. Be sure they outline how frequently you will be billed and the conditions of payment for work to progress on your project.
- Who will be the project leader?
Right from the beginning, it needs to be clear who your project leader is and how they will be communicating with you. This is where the true chemistry in a professional relationship needs to be experienced. They must exhibit signs of impeccable service, dedication, responsibility and ownership of your project. Your project should be made a priority, not just something to check off their list.
Remember, although this is your project and dream, they are professionals in this area. Giving them the freedom to offer insight and expertise could give you a plan that is more than you ever envisioned. The right home designer will be confident and reassuring in bringing your vision for your home to life.