Q: I plan to renovate my home soon and was wondering if I should hire a contractor or an interior designer .Can you offer some pointers ?
A : The role of a contractor is quite different from that of an interior designer. An interior designer is able to offer stylish solutions to design problems, tailoring the home for both form and function, to your needs. A contractor is someone who executes the design; he will manage the workers to carry out the wetworks, carpentry, painting, and so on. To decide who to choose, ask yourself these questions. Firstly, how extensive will your renovation be? If it doesn’t involve heavy redesigning of your spaces, perhaps just a basic sprucing up of the existing rooms, then go with a contractor. If you need someone to help you take all your ideas and translate them into a unified look for your home, then you’ll need an interior designer. Would you have time to project manage your renovation? If you engage an interior designer, you only need to work with him during the renovation. The designer will make sure the agreed design is being carried out to specifications. When working with a contractor, you’ll need to provide instructions on what you want, and monitor his work progress yourself. What’s your renovation budget? A contractor will simply charge you for the work that has been done, but with a designer, there are design fees involved, for their professional skills and to a certain extent, the time spent coordinating the project. Depending on the designer, this fee might either be built into the total bill or be a payment separate from the physical works done.
Q: I found an interior designer with a great portfolio online , but only the handphone number is listed , with no office address . How can I find out if this business is legitimate , and if any complaints have been lodged against it ?
A : Always find out more about the designer or interior design (ID) firm you’re keen to hire. A search on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) website will tell you if the company is “live” and how long it has been around, but not the address of the firm or how reliable the people running the company are. IDs who are freelancers or working part-time won’t have a formal office address. “Unfortunately, barriers to entry in the ID industry are low, even nonexistent, so the saying ‘buyer beware’ has even more significance for the engagement of ID services here,” says a spokesman for Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS). He recommends that homeowners seek out IDCS to see if the key personnel of the company are members. Membership isn’t mandatory, but it would ensure that the ID is of a certain professional standard. “We advise clients to take their time and ask as many questions as possible before signing a contract,” he adds. If the ID claims to have worked on the projects featured on his or her websites, ask for references or if you can do a site visit to see the work for yourself. You might also want to check with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) to check if any formal complaint has been filed.