As an interior decorator, your clients will be your first point of contact – but you’ll also work with contractors and renovators, depending on the services you’re asked to provide!
When working with renovators, there are questions that need to be asked at the beginning of the project that will ensure everything runs smoothly. To allow you to work harmoniously with renovators and produce the best possible result for your clients, we’ve put together a list of 6 crucial questions to ask.
Keep this handy guide around the next time you work on a home renovation!
Understand your role
Interior decorators have an exciting and ever-changing career, and no two interior decorating jobs are the same! Color consulting, furniture placement, and accessorizing are just a few of the services that you’ll be called on to provide, in addition to creating custom interiors.
Your role also extends to renovations, but not the actual construction and overhaul itself. As a home decorator, you’ll use your knowledge and skills to find the right contractors to transform your client’s home. You’ll develop a keen understanding of your client’s needs and desires before beginning renovations, and make sure the renovator understands the project. Your role is extremely important, and it is vital to ask following questions to ensure the project runs smoothly:
1. Is the client’s vision for the space realistic?
You understand the renovation process and learned about floor plans, lighting, and building materials in your interior decorating course. However, the renovating business will be making the major building changes, such as tearing out fixtures and taking down walls to name a few.
This means that they have the final say in terms of whether the client’s plan is realistic and doable, and should be able to communicate that to you very early on in the process. If certain changes cannot be made, you must take this information back to your client as their home decorator, and work with both the renovator and the client to come to an agreement.
2. Can you provide a list of references?
Just as any company would do a thorough screening of a candidate before hiring them, so should you as an interior decorator. When considering a few different renovators (and we recommend looking at several options), be sure to obtain references and check their past work. It’s important to make sure the renovator provides the names of those who they have worked with, and it is extremely helpful if they worked on a similar job to the one you’re seeking a renovator for. Ultimately, you want to find out if this individual is credible, professional, and produces excellent work. How did their last project turn out, and were there problems years after the project was complete? These are important questions you need to ask.
3. How much will this cost?
This is the most important, in terms of keeping your clients happy. Once you’ve conducted a proper background check on your renovator, and determined whether the client’s dream for the space is attainable, it’s time to discuss the overall cost of the project.
Figuring out the cost of a home renovation is not something that is done quickly, so be prepared to meet several times with the renovator to discuss details about the home design plan. They will need to understand the scope of the project, specific details about what materials will be used, as well as if they will need other members of their team to come on board.
Once these details have been hammered out, the renovator will provide you with a price quote, or bid. This is a detailed document that outlines the entire scope of the project based on the client’s wishes, as well as your understanding of the design work. Keep in mind that you can gather bids from several different renovators before making a hiring decision. Don’t feel as though you need to give in to a renovator who you’re unsure about.
Take your time and make the right choice – your client is depending on you!
4. How will disagreements be handled, and can I cancel the services once the work starts?
As much as you want renovations to run smoothly, things happen (especially when the home becomes a chaotic construction zone!). Before the work begins, ask your renovator how disagreements will be handled, and have them put this in the contract. This will provide you with peace of mind during the project, as you’ll know that the work will continue even though there may be bumps and misunderstandings along the way.
Another important detail to consider is how your clients will live in their home during the renovation process. Be sure to discuss this with the renovator and have them share their thoughts on where the clients should go, or if they’ll be able to stick around while the work is being done. Keep their safety and comfort in mind at all times.
Finally, make sure you’re clear on whether the services can be cancelled once the work starts, and if your client will be on the hook for payment at that time. Life can be unpredictable, and unfortunately some circumstances can force clients to end renovations. As the home decorator, you want to be absolutely clear on what the client will be responsible for if they need to terminate the contract – what fees, if any, they will incur, and if they can cancel at all. Don’t leave any room for surprises with renovations!
5. Can you provide a contract?
Once you’ve decided on a renovator, you’ll need them to put everything in writing. Included in the contract should be their pricing estimate mentioned above, as well as some of the following items:
- A work timeline that includes start and end dates
- The contractor’s name and contact information
- A full description of the project, including the materials
- Total cost and a payment schedule
- Who will clean up once the job is complete
- Any other contractors who will be part of the project
- Addendums that include drawings, blueprints, or plans, and other documents such as change order forms that need to be signed by both the renovator and the client
6. Can you provide a warranty?
When a renovator creates a custom interior for a client, their connection to the project extends well beyond the completion of the work. Pipes can leak and walls can crack, and these problems don’t always present themselves while the work is being done (in fact, they appear months later in most cases). Be sure that your renovator provides you with a warranty on all of the work that has been done, usually for the period of a year, so that your client can report any issues during that time.
Asking these important questions to your renovator is a sure fire way to make a home design project successful!