Day in the Life - Idea to Reality


Ideas Are Great But How Does It Become A Reality?

Standing in this home in its "Before" state and chatting with the client, I could see there was a lot of work that had to be done.  It was over 50years old and hadn't been upgraded probably in 30 years. This client was very particular and made it clear he was a "detail person"  He was very transparent about the end result and what he needed from the property.  I was fine with a client who was a bit of a "micro-manager"  I knew I would be the one to work with him most often...I wouldn't send an assistant.  That is because he expected a level of service.  That is not to say that my assistant wasn't capable.  He just needed more attention than most and was willing to pay for it.    His budget was a bit low and I expressed that to him.   With some explanation I helped him to consider the costs. Most people - even if they've done remodels before - aren't always aware of costs and usually, their "ballpark" number is too low.   

With a home that needed retrofitting THEN remodeling, the budget is almost doubled - just to make ready to live in.  That is not including decor such as furniture and window treatments.  Knowing numbers up front helps to set the tone of the project for clear communication.    I go over this in my interior design online programs in more depth.  Being able to present numbers, fee's and budgets confidently is key to instilling your client's confidence in how the work will be delivered.

Click link below for tips on estimating numbers/costs of project

5 Quick Tips for Estimating Remodel Costs

Lake Sherwood, CA is a very upscale area and this old house needed a major overhaul to catch up with the times. He purchased this property to host long-term guests.  He made it clear he wanted a retreat feeling to the property.  He expressed he wanted to keep the rustic charm of the original architecture especially the beams, the wide pine paneling (although he did allow a gray wash applied to the paneling to relate with the gray washed french oak floors that were selected.)  and not to take away from the history of the property.

It Is Imperative To Be Up Front About Costs

I cannot express enough how important it is to be able to talk about numbers and costs right at the beginning - at the interview even.  If you resist it then it will come back to haunt you....cost you money and/or cost you the job.  It is important to make it clear to the client what the overall cost of the project may be plus your fee ....then add another 20% for unforeseen issues.  It sounds like a real deal killer and it can be if you are not familiar with the delivery.  Presentation is key.

Another good rule is to qualify the client.  What that means is to find out where they are on a scale of "good, better, best"   Precious time and money could be wasted (not to mention the client's faith in your ability to deliver) selecting the wrong level of items.  For instance,  they may say they like mid range priced sofas but better pricing on lighting and tile.   This is important so you can deliver selections that do not require several rounds of presentations


What Happens Next

An agreement is created with the scope of the work, how/when it will be delivered and how payments will be collected.  The process starts with pictures, concepts, and overall plans.

Plan Plan Plan.   You cannot plan enough.  As a designer, it's your job to get every detail decided upon in the first phase.  All FF&E (Fixtures, Finishes &Equipment)  so the contractor can work to get plans and permits and the client gets a clear bid on the cost of the remodel.

Next will be the implementation, checking on progress, ensuring the design is being installed as planned, coming up with solutions because there are always unforeseen issues that will arise as the construction is being done especially with an older home.

Next is the selection of decor and installing.  

Last, the final touches and adjustments are completed and pictures are taken.

One last last tip

For everyone involved.  Your firm, your client, the contractor, engineers, trades, etc.....Document everything.  This is super important.  Not from a paranoid place of thought but from a record keeping place of thought.  This project took a year to complete.  Things move quickly and details can be forgotten.  Documenting the process, good communication, approved proposals along the way, change orders, minutes to meetings.....Super, super important.  When a question comes up, it's at your fingertips.  Let me tell you.....When you are dealing with upscale properties and the clients that go with them, this is the world they come from.  Not a fumbling around and an "I don't' know" mentality.

Honestly....whether we are working on a tiny bathroom or a huge multi-unit spec property or a very upscale estate.  This is how I approach each project.  Start to finish.  Time-consuming?  Sure it is.  But time well spent.....and repeat business to follow.

Click the link below to view a short video with before's and afters of this whole house remodel and design project.

Lake House Retreat


Elizabeth Ribons, ASID,CID

Better by Design Academy is for the design inspired, the designer getting a start, the design entrepreneur and simply someone exploring the field.  This site was created to provide the tools you "didn't learn in design school" to successfully run your design business. Click the link and join the group to receive updates, events, promo's and info.  It's free and so is the gift...

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