Blog #1 - January 3, 2018

The Importance of Hiring a Designer Early. 

Happy New Year!

It is the time of year that a lot of people start thinking about their goals for the year and contemplate what improvements they can make, either for themselves or for their home. It is the time of year to think about a spring renovation, if you haven't already.

I had someone contact me last month about her project that is in the early stages. A home addition and re-plan of the existing house. She and her husband have decided on budget and interviewed a few contractors but drawings have not yet been produced and their project is really only in the talking stage. She said to me, "I'm probably calling you too early, but...". I was quick to say, "There is no such thing as too early when it comes to hiring an interior designer". 

So, when is the right time to hire an interior designer? Ideally, your interior designer should be hired at the same time as your architect and contractor, and definitely before any construction has started. It is ideal to have a team of talented people working together to plan the project as smoothly as possible. If hired too late, the designer will not only be rushed to produce beautiful designs that often take time to curate, but they will also be putting a wrench in the works if they see something done by the architect and contractor that they want to change.

Similarly, if you are looking to purchase a new home to renovate, you should contact a designer before you go house shopping. Have your designer selected ahead of time and discuss the type of home you are interested in. We can provide feedback to help your search be successful. For example, if someone tells me they want a house that has a kitchen with an island, I know to tell them that the existing kitchen has to be 12' in one direction if they are going to make this happen without having to tear down walls. This may eliminate some of the houses they look at if they are not interested in changing the structure. Also, most real estate closing time lines are 2-3 months from offer night, which in some cases is not enough time if you need to get permits to do the construction.

If you want to do major renovations to a house, plan 3-4 months to close the property before construction begins, especially if it is a condo or townhouse that requires approvals from board members and permits from the city. Most designers and engineers need at least a couple of weeks to produce drawings for approval, and then typically another month for board and city approvals. Most contractors need a month to finish a previous job and book trades, arrange disposal bins, etc. 

Another question I have had a lot lately is whether or not you need an interior designer and an architect. "Don't they do almost the same thing?" - well, no, not exactly. Typically, the architect deals with the exterior structure and overall engineering structure. The interior designer deals with all things interior, including laying out the room sizes and adjacencies. I am not an architect and although I read architecture and engineering books, I do not pretend to have the expansive knowledge of these individuals. When asked, I can dabble in helping clients select exterior finishes and give their house curb appeal, but I would never want to venture into designing an entire exterior from scratch. That is the architects job. I know a lot of architects who feel the same way about interior design. Most architects can dabble in a kitchen layout and make a house have gorgeous natural light in every room, but they would not want to get knee deep with their clients about how they cook, use their space, etc. Most would tell clients to hire a designer. That is the designers job, after all: to ensure the rooms flow nicely from one to the other, and function well for the end-user. To allow us to do our job to our best abilities, we need to be hired on to the project as soon as possible! 

- Julie McNicol, January 3rd, 2018

McNicol Interior Designs