Designers and Contractors: The Keys to a Good Partnership

We often team up with home builders and remodelers to help our clients create the home they envision. At first it may seem that contractors and interior designers would end up constantly butting heads, further complicating an already detail-oriented project. However, we find our partnership benefits both the client and the contractor. It’s the shared commitment to respect, communication and a quality end result that makes this team approach work.

When we are brought onto a project, whether by the contractor or the client, our role is to be a bridge between the client’s mind and the contactor’s hands. The subjective nature of design makes it a difficult thing to express, leaving lots of room for misinterpretation. It is our job to understand the client’s desires and provide the direction and technical vocabulary contractors need to create them.

During the building process, the client is focused on look and function, and the contractor is focused on structure. Our role is to bridge the gap between the two parties. As interior designers, our talents lie in understanding aesthetics as well as functionality. We move beyond the decorations to the fundamentals of how to design a space around how it will be used. This perfect marriage of expertise allows us to provide clear guidance to the contractor about what their client is envisioning.

Benefits to Contractors:

Exceeding budgets, design changes mid-way through a project, slow progress on material decisions—these are just a few of the many challenges contractors face when working with homeowners. Our goal is to make the contractor’s job easier, helping them avoid these potential complications:

  • We take the time to understand the way the contractor works and support their process. We are flexible to the needs of the builder and their subcontractors, understanding what is important to their success. We do not pretend to be a builder, leaving those aspects to the experts.
  • The multitudes of design decisions are placed in our hands, allowing the contractor to do what they do best—build. We help manage client expectations, keeping them within budget, and helping them understand the implications of their material choices. When the client feels their money is being spent well by the contractor, they are happy!
  • We turn the client’s visions into detailed drawings and specs geared toward the person swinging the hammer. We help keep clients on schedule, working ahead on the decisions the builder needs to stay on track. And, we provide the information a contractor needs in the sequence in which they need it.
  • Collaboration leads to a better outcome. Problems always occur in a building project. We help contractors work with clients to solve issues. We often turn an engineering problem into an asset rather than a detriment to the project. With everyone working together toward a shared vision, the end result becomes something everyone is happy with.

Benefits to Homeowners:

For the homeowner, our focus is on helping them create the home they envision. We work with them to define their goals and challenge them to look outside of their comfort zone. We find that expanding their ideas of design and function brings about the space they truly want. Once we have a final design, we turn it into a form that the contractor can clearly understand, ensuring the expected end product.

We help clients choose elements that support their vision. Bright shiny objects can be very distracting and many homeowners want every choice to be their favorite thing! We guide their decisions toward supporting the original design concept, making sure everything flows and works together properly. We also help clients stay on budget, setting priorities and balancing spending so they can have more of what they want. Avoiding expensive design mistakes by making educated decisions in the first place is the best way to save money!

Benefits to Both:

We can serve as a fresh, objective set of eyes on the original design concept often created by the project architect. As a neutral party who understands the needs of both the client and the contractor, we can add a layer of aesthetic and function that reflects the client’s wishes and the contactor’s expectations. We find that this third-party view does not complicate a project, but elevates it to a place where everyone is happier with the final product.

Many times homeowners are not used to going through the building process, creating the opportunity for wide gaps in expectations between the client and the contractor. We provide support to both sides, making sure everyone in the decision-making process is being represented and helping everyone get on the same page.

In the end, the goal of the team is satisfaction. Educated and informed design behind the structure being created helps everyone achieve his/her goals. The builder gains a happy client, and the homeowner gets the home he/she envisions. Designers and contractors are a natural partnership. The next time you are planning a home remodeling or new construction project, consider including an interior designer on your team.

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