Can Designers and Builders Be Friends?
At first glance, designers and builders don’t seem to have much in common. Builders create the functional structure of a home or room, while designers add the decorative details that make a space comfortable. But the best finished projects come from a tight collaboration between both the designer and the builder.
To produce the best results on your project — whether that’s adding on a new bathroom or constructing a custom home — it’s best if your designer is part of the team throughout all stages of the project. You may think that the designer only has to come in after the construction is done and the dust is cleaned up, but in reality, the designer needs to have an influence on the structure to help create the best finished space.
Working Together in the Planning Stages
A house can be exceptionally well built, but if it doesn’t serve the needs of the homeowners, it won’t be a success. That’s where I add value in the planning process — I can help to understand your needs and craft a solution to create the best space for you. My expertise in design and my knowledge of the various materials available on the market add an important voice to the planning team.
So, whenever it’s possible, I start a project by meeting with the build team to help with the planning. Fortunately, I speak contractor well, so I understand the construction process and where my input can be useful.
For example, my vision for what lighting will be needed in the finished living room will help guide the electrical work, which must be planned at the project’s outset. If I suggest that a certain type of oak flooring be used in the home, the builders can ensure that’s planned for and can be installed correctly and without additional modifications. There are literally hundreds of small details related to the design that should be planned for so the construction phase can go smoothly.
Working Together During the Building Phase
I want to be involved at the beginning of a project for more than just the planning. There are a number of roles a professional designer can play in the building stage of a residential project, including:
- Being an advocate for you. I know what your goals and desires are for the space and I also understand the stumbling blocks and pitfalls that can come up for the builder. By staying involved during the building phase, I can make sure the overall vision we’ve developed together is carried out.
- Working with the builder to overcome any issues. It’s rare that a construction project goes off without any problems. By earning both your trust and the trust of the build team, I can help to resolve any problems to everyone’s satisfaction.
- Helping to coordinate sub-contractors and product deliveries. If I’ve helped you choose the perfect materials for your space, it makes sense that I’d assist with ordering and making sure those are delivered and installed properly. An example might be a tile backsplash in the kitchen — I help you choose the right tile, make sure the right amount is ordered on the correct schedule and help find the most experienced installer to be available when the materials arrive.
- Communicating the design decisions. There are times when the builder needs to know what design options have been selected, in order to make sure the structure is in place to support it.
Working Together During the Finishing Phase
The builder still may need to be involved at the end of the project to make sure everything is finished correctly. By ensuring that we’ve established a rapport before the bulk of the interior design begins, I can get help from the builder if something isn’t quite right or needs to be changed in order to meet your goals.
The best projects I’ve worked on involved a great collaborative effort with the build team. Having healthy professional respect for each other’s work and the ability to brainstorm to find great solutions to any issue that arises can make your finished space meet — and usually exceed — all your expectations. Extending this collaboration throughout the length of the project usually reduces problems and makes the entire build phase go very smoothly.
So, when you ask me if designers and builders can be friends, my answer is always, “Yes! They must be.” That relationship ensures that your project is finished on time and on budget, and gives you the enjoyment you were expecting from your space for a long time to come.