Hiring an interior designer or architect

You may be thinking of commissioning an architect or interior designer, but don’t know where to begin. How do you go about choosing? How do they charge? Here are our tips.

1. Live in your home for some time while considering what renovations you would like to undertake.  (Image: DeVOL)

Kitchen by DeVOL

2. Consider how you live and where you spend most of your time. Do you need more storage? A home office? An extra bedroom? Additional sockets? Extra heat? Determine the extent of building work you are prepared to carry out.

3. Decide what level of service you require. Will your project require building consent? Are you familiar with building regulations or the tendering process? Architects or designers can suggest improvements and prepare plans for builders at the preliminary stage. (Image: Mark Gillette)

Interior by Mark Gillette

4. If you need a complete reconstruction of your property and extensive structural work you will probably need an architect and a structural engineer to advise you. An interior designer is trained to reconfigure space, design lighting, kitchen and bathroom schemes, select materials for floors and walls, as well as specify furniture plans and help to select decorative accessories.

5. Browse the internet, look at magazines and interior design books and pick out images you particularly like. This helps to create a vision for your designer of your own aesthetic sense. (Image: Taylor Howes)

Bathroom by Taylor Howes

6. The House Directory has a section on Interior Designers & Architects listed geographically, which you can link to via our home page. You can also search through the database of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) for an architect (they also have a client advisory service on 020 7307 3700) or through the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) for an interior designer.

7. Once you have established which company you would like to use on your project, call the designer or architect to see if they are interested in the scale of work or type of supervision you require. If so, arrange a meeting, preferably at your home, and request that he or she brings a portfolio of similar work. Check if the designer or architect carries indemnity insurance. (Mood board by DeVOL)

Moodboard by DeVOL

8. Discuss the budget for the project. Always consider including a contingency fund of about 10% should plans change or the unexpected crop up.

9. Designers charge in different ways, often depending on the scale of work. It can be a percentage of total works (8-15% of the building costs), an hourly fee basis or the difference between trade and retail. Detailed designs can cost up to 20% of total building costs.

10. If there is a full team working on a project and it involves tendering, planning and on-site operations of a designer, architect, engineer and quantity surveyor, fees can amount to 35% of the project cost. Be prepared to negotiate, but don’t underestimate the time it takes to develop designs, seek planning consent, liase with the contractors and other professionals involved and supervise the project to completion. (Image: Rose Uniacke)

Bedroom by Rose Uniacke

11. Always ask for references and if possible, to see completed projects. It is useful to know if the relationship between client and designer was successful.

12. The designer should encourage you to concentrate on the space and materials and to do the essential structural and infrastructure work at once: extensions, loft conversions, moving walls, plumbing and central heating, electrical rewiring, flooring and plasterwork (Image: Taylor Howes)

Interior by Taylor Howes

13. Before you sign a contract, ensure you have discussed your plans in depth and that you are agreed on the precise scale, budget, timing and scope of work.

14. It may take some time to find the key pieces to complete your home, but with the right designer you will realise the maximum financial potential of your home and enjoy a tailor- made space. (Image: Retrovius)

Interior by Retrovius

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