Published by Alexis Chastain
Posted on November 23, 2019
In early 2018, a Dallas resident, feeling aligned with our international modern style, hired us to redesign her 2-bedroom Uptown condo. The client needed more than new furnishings — she wanted a full remodel. As a registered contractor with the city, Juliana reminded the Dallas modernista that we could project manage the construction work and see the design to completion. In the end, our client wished to use her friend who was a general contractor.
When a client offers to use their own contractor, we respect that decision. Hey — maybe if we like their work we’ll consider putting them on our go-to list. Even if the torch is passed, we still like to collaborate with the GC to ensure the design gets implemented properly. In this particular project, we became concerned after not hearing from the GC, and, after scheduling an on-site visit with the client to check in on the work, we were disheartened by what we saw.
Among the many minute, but noticeable, design details the crew ignored, they also sourced the wrong materials for the bathroom and hadn’t waterproofed the tub. (They also installed plumbing lines incorrectly, eventually causing the entire condo to flood.) We had to notify the client, and she was grateful we did. Eventually, she hired a different contractor to oversee the work, which only led to more unfortunate events. The new crew demolished items not on the demo list, including her newly remodeled fireplace and installed a water heater too small to heat the tub.
Our rightfully exhausted client has expressed her regret in hiring a third party to oversee her project. Honestly, we just empathize with her. No one should have to experience this worst-case-scenario. Our main focus now is figuring out how we can come in to get the project on track and give her the design she’s been dreaming of for over a year.
Our client’s story has compelled us to share with you the benefits of hiring an interior designer who can legally oversee the project from design to end-of-construction. It’s imperative we clearly outline those perks so you can make an informed decision about what qualifications you’ll look for when hiring someone to give you the home of your dreams.
Passing along a set of construction documents and specifications to a contractor acts like a real-life, high-stakes game of operator. To the initial communicator, the message is crystal clear, but one tiny misinterpretation can completely change the meaning. Maybe they decide to go with a slab of granite for your kitchen countertops instead of marble, or perhaps they choose a smaller, flat teal tile when we had meticulously researched and sourced a large, textured one. Small changes, big implications. Simply said, when the person who designed your interior is in charge of managing the project, you can rest assured there will be no misinterpretations of the design concept we both agreed was best for the space.
As the general contractor of a project, our goal is to follow every specification to the tee. With that said, all projects incur some unforeseen changes. For example, if we design custom kitchen cabinets that extend to the ceiling, but the area’s building codes prohibit ceiling-high cabinetry, as the general contractor, we can implement a change with the overall design in mind. A contractor without our unique skill set and inherent knowledge of the concept will make decisions that could compromise the entire space.
As designers, our primary goal is to give our clients the space of their dreams — the space we designed for them and of which they energetically approved. To ensure this occurs, we select the best tradesman for each job. This might mean we’re organizing the work of nearly 10 different subcontractors, but we’re more than pleased to do that if we know the quality of their craft is supreme.
When we oversee a project, the buck stops with us. If something does happen to go wrong in the construction phase, our clients simply reach out to us and we’re immediately on it. It surprises many interior designers that we take on this responsibility (and liability), but having grown up around construction and contractors, Juliana is just as passionate about overseeing a design to completion as she is about creating it.
It’s common practice for general contractors to markup the cost of materials for a given job. For example, if the laundry room tile costs $5000, the contractor may apply a 20% markup, leaving the client with a $6000 bill. Because we’re design professionals, suppliers often award us an industry discount, which we share with our clients. In other words, if our industry price is 20% less than retail, we split the $1000 discount with our client, saving them $500. Unlike the formally mentioned perks of hiring an interior designer who is also a GC, this practice may only be observed by Beyond Interior Design, but we thought it was worth mentioning (who doesn’t enjoy exclusive discounts?!).
We still wholeheartedly believe and respect that, at the end of the day, you choose who manages your redesign. We simply want to guarantee our client’s satisfaction. As cliche as that sounds, it’s true.