Introducing ourselves as Interior Designers can be quite the experience…everyone has an idea of what interior design is.  Or sometimes they just see the final product and say, “Wow that looks great!” without realizing the amount of behind-the-scenes work involved….for the clients, for us, for the contractors. Most of our job happens months before move in occurs. These blogs are meant to help deconstruct…or demystify the world of interior design.

Myth #275 “Designers are expensive!”

January 18, 2016

As we get “older” and life gets busier, we have begun to realize that there is value in contracting work to others!  Neither of us are good with cars – so when it’s time to do maintenance we call the mechanic. Tricia learned the hard way that drywalling is an expert skill.  Leigh was smarter and went straight to a drywaller to finish work in her house.  We can tackle these items items as do-it-yourselfers, but the time we would spend instead of a professional, the lack in quality workmanship, and possibly losing our sanity was worth the cost of hiring someone to do it the right way!

As business owners one of our many challenges is helping perspective clients see the value in hiring us – an Interior Design firm. Many of our clients are independent business owners who renovate or move their business once every 5-25 years. Often clients start off thinking they can tackle the design and construction process themselves and save a little money.  They don’t always know the many decisions and processes that need to happen in a short period of time to ensure that at the end of construction they haven’t over extended themselves, financially, and mentally.

Meet our most recent new client: a brand new business owner with an average size budget and only 8 weeks of “free rent” (A.K.A. the fixturing period), before they needed to start paying the lease…even even if the business isn’t generating income. 

We met with the them at the new space to understand the existing site conditions and design restrictions – then over coffee we discussed their design requirements, and what the Alberta Building Code and City of Edmonton would require for building permit. Lastly we discussed the time frame – so they could be assured that we would help them meet their milestones.  After this discussion we were able to come up with a fee based on what they required.  Then they fired us before they even hired us…we were too expensive!

A week later we received a phone call. After confirming with the City of Edmonton that what we told the client they would require was correct, and they had called other firms for their fees, they decided they wanted us after all.  They appreciated that we were forthcoming with them about what they would need, and that we were able to provide a list of decisions they would need to make and dates when we would need answers to ensure we were able to meet the Landlord’s deadline for drawings to be completed and submitted. 

When we met the client at the City Planning Department to submit for building permit with him, he was taken back by the professional appearance of  his drawings, and realized how much work went into the design to ensure it was built correctly! Some key items that improved his space and his business because were were involved:

  • We had the knowledge to ask if we could remove an electrical panel (the small cost associated with removing it was well worth the useable space he gained)
  • We interpreted the building code, and knew how to apply for relaxations on the washrooms.  The City didn’t reject our application because they could see that our submission package met the requirements of the code.
  • We had the ability to ask the right questions about how the client’s company was structured, which allowed us to create a design that increased the useable space from his original idea – which because of his business meant more monthly income for him.

As we sat waiting (because that’s what you do at the planning department), our client admitted that he had never accounted for the costs of these drawings when he first started down the journey, and was upset that they were having to spend the money, but he saw the benefits and wouldn’t do it any other way in the future.

This client came to understand that our services weren’t expensive – we were able to save him time in dealing with the City, we made sure his design fit his business so he isn’t making changes in a year, and now he he isn’t leasing space he can’t use!  We did what we do best to support what he does best.

Put it like that, we think we’re a steal of a deal!


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