I have been a lobby interior designer for over thirty years. By any standard, I am likely the most experienced (or one of the most experienced) interior designer of condo and coop building lobbies in the New York City area. I’m aware of every single possible mistake that can be made when a building sets out to hire an interior designer for their lobby.
Simply put, I’ve seen it all. Most mistakes that people make when they hire a lobby interior designer are due to not getting enough of the right information right off the bat. These kinds of mistakes can result in stress for residents during construction, materials that don’t hold up to wear, and traffic patterns that make getting through a lobby more like running an obstacle course.
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Hands down….THE #1 question asked by our clients is “what should our design project cost?”
What I tell my clients is they must be clear about the project scope and the level of finish, furniture and materials they are willing to pay for. The amount of structural change will also have significant impact on costs. This would include building a larger package closet for all of those Amazon packages and weekend golf clubs, relocating the doorman station for better function and a security presence or changing the building entry façade.
We always visit the project site and prepare a Preliminary Budget Estimate. This is a menu of costs derived from years of experience with similar projects. Generally, these are numbers for construction related non-furniture/furnishings costs that are estimated with the help of a General Contractor. Examples of these costs would be the labor and materials to do painting, wall covering, flooring whether carpet, wood or tile, cabinetry, hardware, counter top materials supplied and installed, electrical work and any partition changes.
The following is a list of tips that will help you dot every “i” and cross every “t” when you do your fiscal planning for any upcoming interior design project.
- Understand everything that is listed, what the costs are and why. If there are items named that you have never heard of before, don’t be shy – ask what they are!
- Note anything that may have been over looked. Are your “wish list” items addressed?
- Are there cost saving options and alternatives offered? These may help you make some of your decisions quickly.
- Expiration date – how long will this budget be valid? Do you need time to consider the finances and scope to decide what you can afford? You don’t want to find out that the budget will change in 30 days. And if there isn’t an expiration date – ask for one!
- Sales taxes and delivery charges – are these costs included? If not, they should be, so you have the complete picture.
- Is there any additional material figured into the budget to keep on hand, just in case there is damage in the future? This is very important and very often over looked! We call this “attic stock”.
- Designer Fees – is the budget clear so that you can easily identify labor charges, products costs and the Designer’s fee?
- Contingency number – we always recommend that your budget have a “fudge factor” for those unforeseen site conditions or even some goodies you may want to add. Always add in a contingency figure so there are fewer surprises! Generally, 10% is a good number.
Need any help with any upcoming projects? I’d love to hear from you!
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