Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a graduate and tutor of QC Design School as well as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. She is the owner and award-winning designer for Designer Chick Co., and she’s the previous director of the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). She is a professional speaker and has spoken at venues like IIDEXCanada and the Small Business Forum. She’s been featured in East in the City Magazine, has had a guest spot on Daytime Durham, Rogers TV and has won the HOUZZ Service Award 2017. She works to empower young women to become successful future leaders and supports ocean clean-up efforts.

As exciting as the prospect of a newly designed space can be for your clients, the renovation process can be a stressful one. Your job as an interior designer or interior decorator is to make it as stress-free as possible, and the way to do that is to prevent common renovation mistakes from happening. Here are some common mistakes that can happen and how you can best prepare to prevent them.

interior decorating course renovation tips

1. Measure, Measure, Measure

One of the most common mistakes to make on a project is to mismeasure your space, cabinets, or countertops.

By not measuring correctly, you can throw off quantities of flooring, have shortened countertops that don’t fit together or have cabinets with unsightly gaps. That’s why they say to measure twice and cut once. That being said, measure twice and then have your contractor/trade measure twice to double-check your work.

2. Rely on the Right Contractor / Tradesperson

Another very common mistake tied with mismeasuring is not hiring reputable tradespeople or the right tradespeople for your project. Not having the right tradesperson or the right contractor can leave your project a disaster. Your tradesperson may have said they can do electrical but don’t have their license. You may have chosen a cheap contractor who suddenly disappears, or they may not do their installations properly, which could be cause long-term issues for your clients.

This is probably one of your hardest tasks as an interior decorator, which is why it’s important to do your due diligence and have a strong partnership with reputable tradespeople and contractors. This requires you to build a strong vetting process of meetings. This includes on-site construction meetings of their projects where you can speak with their current clients, and on-site post-construction meetings to see completed projects and speak with clients. This is not the time to go for cheaper alternatives—in this industry, you get what you pay for.

attic under renovations by contractors and trades

3. Keep Communication Open and Consistent

A huge problem for the failure of a project is lack of or inconsistent communication or failure to communicate with your clients, contractors or your team.

Not communicating consistently or effectively can leave project plans open for interpretation. Understand that it is imperative to work with partners you trust and to leave expert decisions to the experts—rely on their expertise! The more detailed your project management is, the less likely your project will have problems.

I teach my interior decorating course students to communicate consistently between their clients, contractors or their team. I teach them to develop an expectation of communication (how often you communicate with clients and contractors) and to understand when there is an urgency for communication.

4. Plan for Your Back-up Plans

Another way some design projects fail is when you don’t anticipate roadblocks or be prepared for them. Every project will come with obstacles that will cause delays. By not planning or anticipating the delays or having back-up plans, it can leave you scrambling to find a solution, ultimately delaying the completion of the project.

So to compensate, pad your budget for incidentals and your project timeline with an extra week to allow for delivery delays.

interior decorating living room

5. Don’t Push the Completion Date

Your project will fail if you rush completion and don’t properly plan the appropriate amount of time required for the project.

By rushing the project, you’ll put a large amount of pressure on the contractor. They could end up making rash decisions, cut corners, or cause accidental mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my contractors. But rushing them to get in and out of the house can only lead to unrealistic expectations.

I was given some amazing advice for project timeline creation in my early days when I worked for a contractor: “Expect 3 full days of work per week.” This means that 2 of those 5 days are write-offs for usually good reasons. If you know your project will take 3 weeks, add an extra 6 days. Hey, if you don’t use the padded time, great! And the other piece of advice is to speak with your contractors or tradespeople about setting realistic expectations – they are the ones doing the building after all.

Renovations are a team effort. Having a strong team will ensure your client’s project will be a successful one.

Are there other common home-renovation disasters we missed? Let us know in a comment!

Want to land good clients? Check out these 5 ways to build up your design portfolio!

Leave a Reply