Know when to turn your DIY project over to a design professional

by Patricia Cove
Posted 10/21/20

In my last article, I expressed praise, as well as caution for all you DIYers out there.  For those of you who are computer savvy, and also knowledgeable on how the design and renovation …

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Know when to turn your DIY project over to a design professional

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In my last article, I expressed praise, as well as caution for all you DIYers out there.  For those of you who are computer savvy, and also knowledgeable on how the design and renovation businesses have changed over the past few years, you have a leg up on not only completing a design project but getting through it unscathed. 

What do I mean by that, you might ask.  Well, if you can move effortlessly through the maze of choices, contracts, orders and follow-ups,  then you will most likely complete your project unscathed.  But if you are the least bit unsure of the best way forward, it may be better to do some research on the subject, and even best to consult with a professional.

Just the term “professional” can cause palpitations. It can often mean dealing with someone who is hard to get a hold of, opinionated, noncommunicative,

or frankly just not on the same wavelength when it comes to subjective ideas like design.  So, here are some recommendations you can use, as you consider hiring someone to help you with a design or architecture project.

  1. Start by asking friends or family for referrals. You leap ahead ten steps by meeting with a professional who comes recommended.
  2. Ask if there is a charge for an initial meeting. The first meeting is usually just to get to know each other, and to discover if the match is a good fit for you both. Most professionals do not charge for that appointment, unless they are expected to give design advice, as a once and done meeting.
  3. Be prepared for that first meeting. Have a list of projects ready to present to the professional. Be as specific as you can, sharing as many thoughts and ideas as you can.  A professional cannot be helpful if you cannot be helpful.
  4. Seasoned professionals will also come with a prepared list. They will ask specific questions as to your lifestyle, your tastes, and your visions. There will also be non- verbal cues that the professional will be looking for. Successful design professionals can understand a design direction, even if a prospective client does not have the words to describe it.
  5. You, as the client, should also watch for non-verbal cues. Does the professional seem to understand you?  Are they attentive to what you are saying, or simply concentrating on their own vision?  Are they offering ideas and suggestions that provide insight? Or are they simply nodding their head in agreement with no specific direction? Even though there may not be a charge for this initial visit, you should expect to glean some idea of what their design vision may be, and if it is in line with yours.
  6. But most importantly, do you feel comfortable with this professional? Are they the type of person that you will enjoy spending a lot of time in the coming weeks and months?  Do they appear calm, experienced, knowledgeable, and especially interested in you and your project?
  7. If the answers to the above questions are all “yes”, the next step would be coming to an agreement on how this professional will be compensated for their time and talent.

The architecture profession is fairly succinct in how the professional is compensated.  The design profession is less so.  In the coming weeks, we will delve into the services offered within an interior design project, and talk about exactly what those services are, and the fees associated with them.

In the meantime, if you are considering an interior architecture or design project, think about the list above, and how it can work best for you!

Patricia Marian Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her web site: www.patriciacove.com

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