Renovations are stressful enough with Covid-19; the last thing you need is a fly-by-night contractor or one that will worsen delays. Get a bad firm and it can be a real nightmare. We’ve all heard about the horror stories of dealing with unresponsive project managers, poorly organised timelines, and a lousy result even after the project has been delayed by months. But the big question is “How can you tell?” Everyone’s got nice photographs to show you, even the worst firms. Here are a few ways to screen the contractor or interior design firm you’re hiring:
What to look for interior designers or contractors
Before we get into this, it’s important to point out that interior designers and contractors are not the same. In theory, interior designers are responsible for providing the overall plans for renovation, whilst contractors only execute the plans.
It’s sometimes common for an interior designer to say they’re not to blame for shoddy execution, as that’s the contractor’s job. The designer may have no say over which subcontractors (electricians, carpenters, painters etc.) the contractor chooses to hire.
Likewise, the contractor shouldn’t bear the blame for poor design choices, as they are just following the instructions given.
In practice, however, interior design firms and contractors see a lot of overlap. There are contractors who have interior designers on staff, for example, and vice versa. Some larger firms can, and do, fulfil both roles (design and build, basically).
You should clarify these details before hiring; make sure you know who is responsible for what.
Do remember that if you are planning to do the design on your own and hiring a contractor to carry out the works, there’s a lot that you will need to undertake. From being on-site to receive materials and white goods to communicating and coordinating deliveries and timelines, the time and stress taken to manage can be a lot more than you think. It’s common for things to not go according to plan, and sometimes it really requires an experienced head to be able to navigate through a project smoothly.
That aside, here are some factors to look for in a contractor/designer:
- Proper accreditation
- Warranties and insurance
- In-house versus external sub-contractors
- Previous work in similar property types
- Past complaints or negative reviews
- Payment plans and contract terms