Category Archives: Tips For Clients

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!

technology interior design

4 Amazing Technology Tips For Interior Designers

Have you ever thought to yourself – I have all of these apps and new technology that are lots of fun, but is there a way I can put it to good use in my business or on a project? Well…You betcha!

When I first started out in the interior design business our tools included velum paper, graphite pencils, gum erasers, straight edges, scaled rulers and protractors. Well we know….much of that has fallen by the wayside. Now we have our computers with programs like AutoCAD (for drafting) and PhotoShop. Then it dawned on me that there is so much more out there. Apps that we are using daily to entertain or amuse ourselves can actually enhance our power to communicate with our Clients. They can also help us gather useful information that was difficult to access.

What on earth am I talking about? Here are a few examples:

PINTEREST: I actually find that there are some Clients who are just not visual. Though they see our portfolio and recognize good design, they appreciate access to instant ideas for what we have in mind for their project. It dawned on me that we can actually use Pinterest as a tool to start this conversation. I set up “boards” for the project and start “pinning” so that the Client can see actual examples of styles, colors or components we have in mind, instantly! I encourage our Clients to get into it by “pinning” images too. It’s like the modern day version of tear sheets I pulled out of decorating magazines. What is terrific is that these images can now be quickly and easily shared with a group. A dialog quickly develops. Sorry…can’t resist – “A picture is worth a thousand words”…pinterest

GOOGLE DRIVE: I take photos of so many things during the course of my week; some examples are “before photos” of projects, things that inspire me in a wide range of venues and even specific problem solving details for current or future projects. I download these photos into files that I label and share them with other Sygrove staff members and even Clients. It starts a dialog of creativity and gets the juices drive

“DRONE PROBES”: This one I learned from a Resident Manager. While I was at a jobsite I asked if he knew what was in the ceiling and how the existing air conditioning ductwork laid out. Did he know if there were beams that were not visible above the dropped ceiling? I was surprised to learn that he had devised a drone of his own by taking a toy remote controlled battery operated miniature car with a “Go Pro” and a light strapped to it. He would go up on a ladder and let his invention go into the ceiling so he could see obstacles and the clear spaces without doing unnecessary damage to the ceiling like boring several probe holes that would need to be repaired. Brilliant!gopro

FACETIME: Though nothing equals direct design involvement or the feel of samples or seeing them in the actual space, but I find the FaceTime option gives those who cannot be in attendance a viable option to be involved. The entire presentation can be made while Clients who are inaccessible but who have computer access to be in “attendance”. In the case of working with a Design Committee or a Board, one of the greatest challenges is to find a date and time to meet. This gives us all more flexibility. We can share comments and feedback, questions and answers. FaceTime is a great way to keep a project moving forward.facetime

I can’t wait to see what else is on the horizon. Do you know of any other common software or hardware that we can use? Would love to hear about it!