You’re excited — it’s finally happening:
- You’re opening a new branch of your retail store.
- You’re updating a healthcare facility.
- You’re finally redoing the office.
Before you start talking shop with a designer…just hold on! You have a little homework to do first.
These are the 5 things you MUST consider before embarking on any new design project.
One of the first things a designer will ask is: What is your budget? You need to know, going in, how much you can afford to spend on this project. Start by researching how much similar jobs cost; look back at past projects you’ve done and talk to other business owners (and Google!). Keep in mind, prices change over time and based on location. Also consider how you’ll pay for it — and whether you need to secure additional credit.Many people underestimate how much a project will cost. A project without unexpected costs is practically unheard of. After all, no one really knows what’s going on under a floor or inside a wall until you actually open it up. Plan a contingency budget of at least 15% of your total estimated project cost (MORE if your project is particularly complex).
No excuses! “But I don’t know what I want” will get you nowhere. You need an idea of your vision for the space and the styles and looks you like — and what will work for your business. Lay some groundwork by reviewing the function of your company and the goal of this new space. Put it in writing so the designer has something concrete as a guide. Next, collect inspiration — look online for images (tip: check designers’ websites and blogs!). See something you love when you’re out and about? Snap a picture! Another smart strategy: visit the competition and check out their design and what works (and what doesn’t).
As the business owner, you’re most familiar with the ins and outs of your space. What do you love about it? What do you wish you could change? Are there bottlenecks? Wasted space? Consider the typical workflow, as well as how you’d improve it. Remember, moving plumbing, walls, gas lines all can run up a hefty bill. Weigh those costs against the benefits they’ll have on your business and productivity.
This is another biggie: Your designer cannot work without knowing when you need the work done. Begin with the date at which you need everything finished and work backwards. Break down the workload into stages or phases to help manage timelines. As you develop the schedule, don’t forget to allot extra time for revisions or changes. Nothing is ever perfect the first time around!
All interior designers are NOT created equal! Do your due diligence to ensure the designer you pick is a good fit for your project. Check out online portfolios, interact on LinkedIn, and reach out to more than one. Ask lots of questions — about the process, about communication, about past projects — and whether they came in close to budget. Ultimately, don’t let cost be your deciding factor. A great designer should be able to juggle the plans and materials to give you what you want, at a price you can afford. More important is the designer understanding your vision and having a good working relationship with you.