Every few months, there seems to be at least one negative story about Interior Designers (IDs) or contractors. It’s unfortunate that the relationship between IDs, contractors, and homeowners tends to be quite adversarial – sometimes it seems like homeowners have to act like guards, waiting to “catch” the ID doing something wrong. But an email from a reader got us thinking: perhaps the relationship needs to be more of a two-way street:
Should there be more give-and-take in the relationship with IDs?
We recently had an email from S, a reader who had issues with her own ID. She and her husband actually engaged their previous ID, even though he wasn’t the cheapest.
Still, they did encounter issues that were quite puzzling. “There were some instances where we were left scratching our heads and wondering what happened,” S recounted. They were renting a place while waiting for the renovation to be completed, and before the reno started, they were promised that the place would be finished by February.
In December, they were informed that February was no longer possible, and now it would most probably be the end of March. As a result, they had to pay for an additional month of rental.
There were additional hiccups too. Their previous place had full-length wardrobes (2.8m high), and they assumed that their new place would be based on full-length wardrobes too. As a result, they had to go through “another back and forth with our ID because the 3d renderings did show full-length wardrobes.”
Despite these issues, however, S seemed to be quite tolerant.
She noted that “IDs and sub-cons need to make money too. Squeezing them out of business doesn’t do anyone any good.”
There was a case where “he gave us a quote for vinyl flooring which turned out to be >1k more than the quote we got from another vendor outside”. But she was understandable about the situation for IDs too and they ended up sticking with their ID as she fairly pointed out, “his margins elsewhere are probably squeezed (he said so too eventually) and he needs to make money somewhere”.
Ultimately, S wanted to highlight that “there is a lot of give and take in every good working relationship”. And so while there were not-so-good parts, there were many positive aspects that they had to account for as well. For instance, “he didn’t charge us extra when we said we wanted drawers in a portion of our wet/dry kitchen when the quote was based on cabinets”. And “he absorbed the extra cost to fabricate full-length cabinets” too.
She did acknowledge that he was probably getting better profit margins from them as compared to other clients who may have gone through every single line item to compare – but being understanding in that regard helped when it came to points that they overlooked too.
As S pointed out, one good way to prevent further comparisons would be to “stop listening to your friends/uncles/aunties/friends pet dog/cat who swear that they got a better deal than you when they/their distant cousin 10x removed just did their renovation.”
As such, most of the real estate industry tends to be on the side of the homeowner (and rightly so, at times); and even some developers are notoriously harsh on contractors. But is there a way to deal fairly with IDs and contractors, for the benefit of both parties? Here are a few things we could consider: