Tag Archives: public space design

Your Decorating Budget and 8 Sure Fire Tips to Get It Right!

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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.


  1. 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!
  2. Note anything that may have been over looked. Are your “wish list” items addressed?
  3. Are there cost saving options and alternatives offered? These may help you make some of your decisions quickly.
  4. 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!
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  5. Sales taxes and delivery charges – are these costs included? If not, they should be,  so you have the complete picture.
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  6. 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”.
  7. Designer Fees – is the budget clear so that you can easily identify labor charges, products costs and the Designer’s fee?
  8. 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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Essential Interview Techniques for Selecting the Perfect General Contractor!


Hiring a construction company to implement the design of your project can be a daunting experience and a tremendous responsibility.

Though the contractors that have bid on your project come highly recommended by your design professional, co-worker or BFF, interviewing each candidate face to face so get that “gut feeling” is important in the decision-making process. Your ultimate goal is to come away with supreme confidence in one company to complete your project on time and within budget.


By setting aside one hour per interview and breaking it down to 45 minutes with each firm and a 15 minute break for a re-cap and comparing notes with your colleagues before the next group comes in is a good method.

Set ground rules. Each interviewee is to be advised that their total time will be 45 minutes. They are required to answer revealing key questions. A 5 minute warning will be given for their final remarks and “ wrap up”. If you don’t set this up initially, there is a greater chance of time overruns and endless contractor “monologues”.


The following are sample questions that I recently used in a contractor interview session with my clients. The answers proved to be very helpful to narrow the field from 3 to the 2 finalists:

  1. How long will the work take?
    •  What is the expected sequence of events?
    • Do you work in one area then move to the next or do you work everywhere all at the same time?
    • Will there be any times when there won’t be workers on my project? If so, why?
  2. Do you personally supervise the work? Will there be a full time  working foreman who will be at the project daily?
  3. How do you protect against dirt and dust during the course of this project?
  4. Is there anything we can do to avoid change orders?
  5. What are the key things that that will make for the smoothest running project possible?
  6. This is your opportunity to tell us why we should hire you rather than your competition?

At the conclusion of the interviews, set aside time to recap your feelings about what you learned. Does one firm shine above the others? I call this the “beauty contest” because if all else is equal, that is what it all boils down to. Do you have confidence that this GC firm will bring the project in on time, within budget, run a pristine job site and are the kind of people you want to have access to your property?


The next step would be to contact the references provided to get a solid take on the contractor’s work quality, organization, workers and the overall experience.

Now… do you feel more confident that you will select the right firm for your project? Need more advice – feel free to ask me!

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