Working with Contractors
As an interior decorator, you have the professional skills to plan the look, feel, and flow of a room for your clients. You can choose which furniture styles, lighting options, and color schemes are best for their space and the atmosphere they’d like to achieve. There are some things, however, that you want to do to transform the room but that aren’t actually within your scope. Perhaps you want to open up a small dark bedroom by building a new picture window? For services like this, it will be necessary for you to work with an independent contractor. Here are some tips for doing so successfully!
What do contractors do?
Contractors are most often the people that will help you with the physical remodeling of your space. If, in the process of designing the changes that you’ll make to a room, you or the clients decide that a wall should be moved or a window should be created, you’ll hire a contractor to complete those renovations. As a design professional, it’s not actually within your scope to altar the physical structure of the room. Contractors are responsible for making architectural changes to the room, according to the design plan that you provide them with. The contractor is the professional that you’ll consult with and hire for renovations that go above and beyond your interior décor skills.
Where can you find quality contractors?
There are several ways of finding contractors to help you with remodeling projects. The first is to network within your industry. Despite competition, you might find that other more experienced local designers are willing to share positive recommendations with you. Speak with any design contacts you have in your area and see if they’ve worked with any contractors that they’d positively refer you to. If you’re new to the industry or no one has a referral for you, try online forums for your local area. These can be either networks for design professionals specifically, or even resources intended for clients doing home renovations. Sites like these often have helpful service reviews from previous clients that you can read before choosing someone to work with. If no such thing exists for your area, you will be responsible for either choosing a contractor yourself, or compiling a list of potential contractors and presenting it to your clients for them to choose from. Use your own judgment and conduct a consultation interview with them first to ensure that the project is within their scope. Also make sure to ask about experience and licensing, liability insurance, pricing, and even references. You want to secure quality services for both your sake and your clients’.
Once you’ve narrowed the list of contractors down to about three potential people or companies, obtain an estimate from each one. Show the contractor your plan and the space, and explain to them in detail exactly what you and your clients want. Have them do an assessment of the work your plan requires so they can provide you with their rate for that work. Request the most accurate pricing possible, rather than a vague number, so that you can pass concrete information on to your clients for approval. Once you have three estimates, meet with your clients to see which contractor offered the best price for the best service. Don’t just automatically choose the cheapest one if you believe you might get better quality service from one of the pricier options. When your clients have decided which price is most affordable for them and you’ve agreed upon which service is best, you’re ready to hire your contractor!
How can you help each other?
The best thing a design professional can do for their contractors is to finish their plan as thoroughly and concretely as possible before the contractor starts working. If you’ve only partially decided how you’d like the finished product to look and you let contractors begin remodeling physical aspects of the room, you don’t leave yourself space to adjust the plan later. Once the wall is moved or the new window is created, there’s no going back unless you’re prepared to pay much more than you would if your plan had been concrete and nothing needed changing! Chances are that your clients won’t be happy with you in that scenario. If you have all of your details worked out in advance, you’ll be well prepared to answer any questions they might have as they work, and you’ll also be ready to answer questions together for the client. Your professional image will benefit from good organization and a clear vision of how the contractor’s work fits into your own process. The contractor can also help you in return by listening to your plan in detail, sticking to what you’ve asked of them, and checking regularly with you to ensure that nothing has changed. Over all, good preparedness and effective communication are essential to working alongside contractors.
Once the contractor has successfully completed their remodeling portion of your project, you can forward an invoice to your client for those services. The cost of having the remodeling done will be calculated into their total owing cost for your design contract. When the project has been finished entirely and your clients have made their final payment, you can ensure that the contractor’s costs are covered and they have received their portion of the payment. If, during the design process, the client was extremely hands on and primarily dealt with the contractor themselves, they might take that invoice and pay it directly to the contractor themselves. If the client was more absent throughout the process and you were the primary point of contact to the contractor, the client might pay the entire amount for all services rendered directly to you, and you will be responsible for forwarding the portion of that earned by the contractor to them as soon as you receive payment.
Don’t be afraid to work with contractors!
Establishing strong working relationships with contractors during a project is an effective networking opportunity, especially for new interior decorators and other design professionals! If all goes well, you might be able to work with that person or company again, eliminating lengthy steps from the process of hiring someone new to remodel and renovate.