Asia Singapore Interior designers reveal the truth about markups, renovation advice, and unreasonable clients

Interior designers reveal the truth about markups, renovation advice, and unreasonable clients

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Home renovations are stressful and consuming endeavors, doubly so if you’re not the one handling the responsibilities of the project manager. In order to make sure they’re not ripped off, many homeowners are hypercritical of their contractors and go to great pains to verify the contractors’ honesty. Remember to ask many questions of your interior designer and to be sure to get answers in writing. You may be asking questions that are not necessary on your first meeting, but it is good to be sure that your ideas are well represented by your designer.

Two local interior designers recently took to a Spill It! episode on YouTube to bust myths and misconceptions that people have of the renovation industry and IDs like them. “People like to think we’re just after [their] money and that we’re just out to increase the quotation,” says Eugene Seah of I.Poise Design, who’s been in the industry for five years.

Another ID, Delynn of The Interior Lab added: “When they ask these questions, it’s to protect themselves.” Delynn has been in the ID industry for the past 4 years and she strongly urges consumers who want peace of mind to choose an ID from a CaseTrust-accredited company.

So why is it that some interior design firms are significantly cheaper than others while providing the same service?

Eugene cites one example, “It depends on how honest a company wants to be. (One of my clients) told me, ‘I really love your design but your cost is $10,000 or $15,000 more than this other guy.’”

After comparing his job quotation with the others, Eugene discovered there had been inconsistencies. “For plumbing, my cost was $4k, but this person quoted $2k. I also questioned why (he could quote that price),” he added. He then realised that the other ID could quote a lower price as he did not include the cost of new pipes.

“When you [fully] hack [a site], nothing can be salvaged. So once [hacking starts] they’ll come to you [and say], ‘Actually your pipes are damaged, no choice you need to [spend this extra money to get new pipes]. By then you’ve already got one foot into it, you cannot tell the ID, ‘I don’t want you anymore’.”

“I think that’s why sometimes people are not trusting of the people in our industry,” Delynn said.

Customers who ask if the ID’s design fee can be waived or if their ID can do free 3D renderings, among other requests, are part and parcel of the job.

“When you engage us as a professional, just like how you go to a doctor or lawyer, you have to pay consultation fees… (Clients) forget that everything we do for them comes from years of experience that we have or things that we picked up along the way. These things I strongly believe should cost something and shouldn’t be worthless,” he said.

“I heard from a colleague about homeowners who actually measured every single corner of the house,” Delynn said to share how some customers go the whole nine yards to ensure that they’re getting what they’re paying for.

“I heard from a colleague about homeowners who actually measured every single corner of the house. There was one particular area with the false ceiling with only a 2cm difference. And then he requested, ‘Can you refund me the 2cm?’ To be honest, if we were to go into the nitty gritty of these things, there are a lot of other things that we also cover for (clients) but we don’t (list everything out).”

What is the greatest way for IDs and clients to have a positive working relationship and a successful renovation? “Just keep an open line of communication with us,” she suggested.

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