Tag Archives: Interior Designers

Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

Latest News


Communicating with Contractors and Suppliers

by Samantha Sannella

The first step in any good partnership is to select at least three contractors/suppliers who can meet your requirements based on several criteria, including:

  • They should have relevant experience and expertise in what you are trying to accomplish so look for a portfolio of projects. Good vendors can provide photos and reference letters. Also check to see if they are licensed and insured and if they use certified products and installation methodologies.
  • They should have a process in place that you can understand and follow. If you are unfamiliar with their technical terms, ask them to explain or use the power of the internet to educate yourself.
  • They should be able to provide references for successful projects that are similar to your own. Keep in mind that it is nice to hear good things about the contractor, but always ask where mistakes were made and how they rectified them. How your vendor resolves issues is an important part of the relationship. Customer service is key.
  • The lowest price isn’t necessarily the one that you should choose. Consider a cost benefit analysis to weigh the cost of the project against the potential quality outcome. My motto is, “The bitter taste of poor quality remains much longer than the sweet taste of a low price.”

Define the Commitments

You should receive a project plan that defines the scope, estimate and schedule for their work. You also need to come to a mutual agreement as to what each side will deliver to the other. You will increase your project’s chance of success by defining your commitments and the contractor’s commitments.

Ask for a written estimate of all materials and labour up front before any agreement is in place. This should be delineated by phase. For example, I have seen many estimates where the contractor or vendor quotes a lump sum for the bottom line without providing the details. If a contractor cannot provide details in a written format, you are increasing your risk that something will go awry.

Maintain Consistent Communication

Do not get caught waiting for a “magical result” several weeks or months in the future. Instead, actively communicate and work with your contractor through reports and inspections of the work completed.

To manage the contractor, you need to maintain contact with them. Demand regular status reports or meetings that describe their accomplishments to date, what work is still in progress, and what has not been started. These should be measured in work hours, days or weeks, something that you can convert into a dollar amount. Do not accept percentages as units of measurement. A project can be 90 per cent done for months or even years. I know many people who have jobs that stopped at 90 percent.

Final Inspection

Final inspection is an important part of the job. When negotiating the contract, always hold back 10 or 15 per cent of the total cost until the job is 100 per cent complete. This will provide incentive for the vendor to finish all the work in a manner satisfactory to the owner.

Professional architects and interior designers inspect the contractor’s work in a formal process called a deficiency list or punch list and are responsible for approving invoices to the clients as work progresses. It’s a tedious but useful process as you make a list of all deficiencies — it requires a keen visual inspection to note even the smallest details, such as a crooked light switch plate on a northwest wall, or the lack of caulking at the corner of a sink.

Your goal should be to obtain the best possible quality construction for the most reasonable price. At the completion of a satisfactory job, you should offer the vendor the ability to photograph the work as well as offer them a letter of reference for their file.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for RENO & DECOR and editor of the Ontario Design Trade Sourcebook.

urbanretreathomes.com



SHARE  

Featured Products


Function Before Form

Function Before Form

Latest News


Function Before Form

by Cynthia Soda

As designers, we are drawn to beautiful things. It’s easy to covet the most luxurious item in a store and online shopping makes constant temptation effortless. However, purchasing that very beautiful — very expensive item — only to find that it doesn’t fit your space is something designers are trained to guard against. It is a tug-of-war to distill and restrain and to put function first.

Assuring you meet the function requirements ensures that form solutions offer maximum enjoyability.

Selecting finishes, furniture and accessories is inconsequential if the space lacks function. Designers add value to the decision-making process well before thought is given to aesthetics. It can be disappointing when clients are halfway through a renovation and we step in to help with paint colours and cabinet door styles and see missed opportunities to add value through space configuration, sightlines, accent features, or integrated storage.

Function is at the forefront of every good designer’s mind and it’s absolutely essential to plan with people and purpose in mind. Every decision stems from the needs of the client and issues of space. Empty nesters who travel frequently and love to collect and display art have different needs than a couple with young children and weekly extracurricular activities to attend.

As a designer, it is essential to understand the clients, their current needs and their future needs. It is also important to understand the value of the space and the amount of investment that a space can withstand relative to the value of the house.

Implementing a program of requirements is a good idea, regardless of project size. This provides a basis of communication with the client and is a starting point for decision-making. Styles change, but function is much more difficult and expensive to modify once walls are built and doors are installed.

A few of the most important considerations are as follows:

Usage

Understanding behaviour is the job of a designer. How do people behave in a space? What is it being used for? How will they use the space over time? The difference between art and design is the user requirement that design demands.

Sightlines

Sightlines are one of the most important considerations to be made. Imagine sitting down to an elegant dinner and from the table your guests can see the powder room door is open with a glorious view of the toilet. Or think of the parent making dinner having to run back and forth from the kitchen to the family room in order to keep watch over their toddler playing beyond the wall dividing the spaces.

Circulation

Providing for appropriate circulation is important. Minimum distances around islands, in bathrooms, in front of appliances and around furniture is an important part of avoiding frustration. Circulation also affects the future usability of the space. It is always recommended that designs reflect the concept aging in place and thought is given to how someone might navigate the space with mobility aids.

Reach Distances and Ergonomics

There are standards in the interior design industry and for good reason. Years of research dictate cabinet heights, countertop heights, corridor widths, lighting heights and other specifications. While challenging these can be fun and provide inspiration to the designer, ultimately function must be respected and the user requirement is paramount.

Maintainability

It is easy for interiors to look great in photos. However, cleaning, maintenance and durability should be considered before any decisions are made. A lot of problems can be avoided with time dedicated to the research of what a product or finish offers to a client. Appropriateness of use is extremely important. For example, in our cold climate designing finishes and storage that withstand snowy, salty boots and bulky winter coats at the front entry is necessary.

CYNTHIA SODA is owner and principal interior designer of Soda Pop Design Inc., a multi-disciplinary interior design firm providing complete custom renovation and design services for residential and commercial clients throughout the GTA.

Soda Pop Design focuses on merging the client’s lifestyle, personality and architecture to create customized liveable luxury.

SodaPopDesign.ca
Instagram @CSodaPop
Twitter @SodaPopDesign



SHARE  

Featured Products


Toronto Fall Home Show 2017

Toronto Fall Home Show – September 15-17, 2017

Latest News


Toronto Fall Home Show – September 15-17, 2017

Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place
Toronto, ON

RENO & DECOR Magazine presents:

“Design Intervention” BOOTH # 1319

From September 15 – 17, 2017 at the Toronto Fall Home Show, visit RENO & DECOR at booth # 1319 to have all of your Design and Decor concerns put to rest. Design Intervention runs every day. On-hand will be a host of design and decor experts along with your favourite R&D contributors offering free 15-minute consultations. Be sure to bring along your photos, samples and floor plans to ensure you get the most out of your appointment.


BOOTH DESIGNER

A word from Terry Edward Briceland:

“Our obsession is to straddle the fence between mainstream and obscure, blur the lines of masculine and feminine and fuse the dignified with the ridiculous. If it doesn’t evoke emotion or debate, we haven’t done our job or achieved our goal.”

Does he look familiar to you?  He should.  With over 15 years of experience, you have either seen him out and about in Toronto or on your TV screen on shows like ‘Take This House & Sell It!’, ‘Rooms That Rock’, ‘Design Interns’, ‘Disaster D.I.Y.’, ‘Movie Style’, ‘Cityline’, ‘The Marilyn Denis Show’, ‘Divine Design’ and ‘Candice Tells All’.  Some of his designs have also been in Home Décor magazines like ‘RENO & DECOR’, ‘Canadian Home Trends’, ‘House and Home’ and ‘Style At Home.’  And who could forget the 3-page interview in ‘Sew News Magazine’ where he revealed that he sews in his underwear while listening to loud music.


DESIGNER PANEL

Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 2 pm

Blissful Bathroom Design – Presented by RENO & DECOR Magazine

Featuring Interior Designers:

Creating a luxury bathroom can be an exciting with the many different options out there today, creating an oasis that is both comfortable and functional can be a daunting task.

Join Toronto Designers Kate Davidson and Linda Mazur at the upcoming Toronto Fall Home show to learn how you can create your own stylish and blissful bathroom.

They will be sharing their favourite products, projects and discuss the latest in bathroom design trends and tips today, to help you create the most luxurious bathroom space you’ve been dreaming of.


Design Intervention appearance schedule:

For updated designer appearance schedules, please keep checking back here and the show’s website: fallhomeshow.com

Friday, September 15 = 1 pm – 3:30 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 3 pm – 5 pm

Friday, September 15 = 1 pm – 3:30 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 3 pm – 6 pm

Friday, September 15 = 1 pm – 3 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 1 pm – 3 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 1 pm – 3 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 3 pm – 6 pm

 

Friday, September 15 = 3:30 pm – 6 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 10:30 am – 1 pm

 

Friday, September 15 = 11 am – 1 pm

 

Friday, September 15 = 11 am – 1 pm
Saturday, September 16 = 3 pm – 6 pm
Sunday, September 17 = 2 pm – 5 pm

 

Saturday, September 16 = 11 am – 1 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 3 pm – 5 pm

Friday, September 15 = 3 pm – 5 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 11 am – 1 pm

Friday, September 15 = 3 pm – 6 pm

 

Saturday, September 16 = 1 pm – 3 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 1 pm – 3 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 11 am – 1 pm

 

Sunday, September 17 = 11 am – 1 pm
Friday, September 15 = 11 am – 1 pm

Sunday, September 17 = 11 am – 2 pm

Saturday, September 16 = 1 pm – 3 pm

 


RENO & DECOR would like to thank the following sponsors of Design Intervention:

Thanks and see you at the show!



SHARE  

Featured Products