Key Tips For Selecting The Best Residential Designer

Key Tips For Selecting The Best Residential Designer

Interior Design
Additions and Remodels
By Mateos Glen Hayes September 18, 2022

The home is where the heart is, and everyone can certainly see the heart of your home in its very design. The way that it is built, decorated and laid out certainly speaks volumes about the home's owners. If you are like most of us, you probably do not have an architectural degree and don't have the foggiest idea about how to design and build a home; but you definitely have some good ideas. If this sounds like you, then it may be time to call up a residential designer and start planning your "new" home.

As you might imagine, hiring the right residential designer for the job is critical as this will ensure you get the best project for your money. A good residential designer will give you access to experienced builders, protect your interests, and save you from going into cost overruns or delays. Since most homeowners do not know what they are in for, they do not know the right questions to ask or what to look for. Look no further; we'll help you out right here.

Ratings and Getting in Touch 

It is easy to look up residential designers online and get in touch with just a few taps.

It is easy to look up residential designers online and get in touch with just a few taps.

It can be difficult at first glance to determine if a prospective residential designer is right for you. Pretty much any residential interior designer you check out will have a professional website with good pictures of their work. To determine if a residential designer will be the best for designing a beautiful project just for you, there are a few key considerations you’ll have to keep in mind. 

One thing that all designers should offer is free consultations. If they do not offer free consultations, cut them from your choice of designers (there are more designers than you may realize, so cutting one or two certainly is not going to leave you designer-less). You must also not consider any designer who does not have the Better Business Bureau or "BBB" seal. The more professional seals they have, the more qualified they are for the job and the better the company they are. 

Making The Call

Check out the last projects your residential designer completed to get an idea of what they can do for you.

Check out the last projects your residential designer completed to get an idea of what they can do for you.

Now that you have cut a few of the designers from your list, it is time to place some calls. Pay attention immediately to how quickly the phone is answered, and how polite the voice on the other end is. Next, when you mention the free consultation, see how excited the designer sounds. Does he or she sound passionate about the job and excited to get started? Or do they seem distracted and even bored? Did they answer your questions courteously or did they seem annoyed?

Finding The Right Designer 

The key thing is to ensure you have selected a few of the passionate, excited designers. Once you schedule a meeting with them, be sure that they stick to the time that they promised. When you meet them at the door, extend your hand and see if they accept your hand. See if they hold eye contact and seem friendly. This is important since you and the residential interior designer will be working together on this project.

Understanding Design Fee Structures

It is crucial to understand what you will be paying for and what payment model your residential designer uses.

It is crucial to understand what you will be paying for and what payment model your residential designer uses.

This is arguably one of the most important considerations since it is directly connected to your budget. Residential architecture designers each have their own fee structure that is important to find out so that you can plan appropriately. One of the most common ways that residential designers structure their design fees is via percent-based fees. 

Percent-Based Fees 

This means that the residential designer charges a percentage fee for their design work on top of the project cost. So if you had a project that costs $100,000, the percent-based fee would be between 6% and 15% on top of that cost. So that means you would pay between $6,000 and $15,000. The reason there is such a wide range in this additional percentage is that there are a bunch of variables that determine your percent-based fees.

Some services such as construction observation may not be included in your residential designers offered services.

Some services such as construction observation may not be included in your residential designers offered services.

Your fee will vary based on how efficiently the firm controls cost, the overhead costs of the firm, or even the size of the firm. Likewise, how well-established the firm is will also be an important factor. A well-established firm is likely to charge a higher percentage-based fee since you’re paying for a household name that has an established reputation for quality and reliability.

Guaranteed Maximum Amount

Also known as a GMA, the guaranteed maximum amount is another fee structure that is commonly used by residential designers. The GMA is a cost that the residential designer promises not to go beyond, so the cost will not increase. This is good for the security of the homeowner since it allows you to plan your project with the knowledge that your budget will not run away from you.

Another GMA benefit is that you won’t be penalized if your residential designer falls behind schedule. Instead, the designer will make less money per hour the longer the delay lasts. This creates a financial incentive for your home project to be completed in a timely manner. Of course, this also means that your fee can be as high as the GMA, meaning you lose the chance to save some money in exchange for having a guaranteed rate. 

Working Out Scope of Services

Some residential designers offer customizable services so you only pay for what you need.

Some residential designers offer customizable services so you only pay for what you need.

When negotiating with a potential designer you want to hire, it is important to understand what services they can provide. This gives you a better idea of what you are paying for as well as what the residential designer can do for you.

Full Service VS. Customizable Service

Some residential designers do offer full service, meaning that they will complete residential drafting and design, create 3D models, complete a residential interior design, and perform construction observation. However, this is not true of all residential architecture designers as some will offer “custom” services meaning they only provide some of these services based on what your project requires. 

The upside of hashing out the details beforehand is that you only pay for the services you need rather than wasting money on those you won’t use. As a general rule, expect to pay more out of pocket if you opt for a full-service firm. Full service means you will be helped every step of the way and that naturally comes with an extra cost you will need to budget for. 

If, however, you feel more comfortable doing some stuff on your own opting for customizable services gives you a chance to create a more affordable package. This might be a better option for a more unique design such as a Greek-style house as well since you may need other specialists for different construction stages. Just be sure that the residential designer firm you choose is flexible enough to provide the customizable services you require. 

Establishing Good Communication 

The design process will take time to get right, so be sure that you establish good communication with your designer.

The design process will take time to get right, so be sure that you establish good communication with your designer.

You should also mention your plans and be sure that your design ideas are heard. A good designer will take your ideas and then expand upon them with their own pointers to enhance the design of the home. The goal is to establish a good rapport so that the designer understands your vision and can therefore help you to make it a reality. It is important to establish this early on so you can avoid dealing with a personality or vision conflict when you’re already well into the project. 

Take Things Slow

Be sure you do not feel rushed. Take your time and be sure that you are completely happy with the designer that you choose. Also, keep in mind that it is ok to take your time during the design process itself. There will be many design drafts and redrafts before you come to a construction sheet that closely matches what you want. Every detail needs to be covered from exterior cladding to kitchen layouts. This is totally normal and gives your project the best chance of turning out successfully. 

For best results, you want to consider all of our available options so that your home is built exactly as you want it to be.

For best results, you want to consider all of our available options so that your home is built exactly as you want it to be.

Remember, you will be spending a lot of time with this designer since a home can take months to be built or rebuilt. You want to be sure that you feel at ease with the person you are working with, and that they fit into your budget. If you do this, then both you and your designer will have a very happy few weeks ahead of you. 

Be Prepared to Walk Away

Finally, if for whatever reason it seems like things are not working out and you cannot see eye to eye, do not hesitate to try someone else. At the end of the day, this is your project and it is crucial that you have the best person for the job.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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