With so many reviews and forums to sieve through, deciding on a interior design company in Singapore can be a daunting process.
You sign up at a local renovation site, and next thing you know you get dozens of calls from different ID companies asking you to come down for a consultation.
Forums and friends’ reviews don’t help either. Everyone seems to have a vastly different opinion and design preference, so you don’t know how much stock you can put in those online ratings.
But, setting aside matters of taste, there are still a few questions to ask yourself before choosing an interior design company in Singapore:
Image: Katarzyna Białasiewicz/123rf.com
1. Is the interior design company accredited?
A quick search online will show if your interior design company is CaseTrust or RCMA certified.
Being CaseTrust certified signifies that the company practices good sales practices, standards, and ethics. This means clearly articulated, transparent, documented renovation fees with full accountability for the listed deliverables in projects , fee refund policies, and a well-trained staff force.
CaseTrust-accredited companies regularly go through workmanship sites assessments by the BCA in accordance to CONQUAS standards. In addition to these regular checks, the company would have a proper redress system including mediation by the CASE Mediation Centre.
RCMA-listed businesses also safeguard customer deposits from closure or liquidation of the company through deposit performance bonds. An ISO Certificate, on the other hand, signifies an assurance in the quality and consistency of work.
2. How much experience does the interior designer have?
In each interior design company, there are many designers one can pick from. They can range from having decades of experience, to absolutely none at all.
In Singapore, most designers do not have any prior formal education on design concepts.
Most “sales designers” in a company usually acquire their knowledge and skills in interior design through “mentorships” as they go along, their main aim to close sales rather than generating good quality design ideas. After all, they are only paid commission for each project.
Given that most do not have any formal design qualifications, it is good to ask for a more experienced designer.
If you’re really into Pinterest-worthy designs, we suggest you approach premium design companies with “in-house designers” instead.
“In-house designers” are usually in charge of doing up the 3D proposals and drafting of the designs. Most have prior formal education of space concepts, texture and colour coordination.
3. What contractors does the interior design company work with?
Some interior design companies have their own factories while others get their woodwork subcontracted out. It is always preferred to go with a company that uses their own contractors and factory as opposed to having the work subcontracted out.
Subcontractors usually mean a blurred shift in responsibilities when anything goes wrong, and an increased fee quotation for the go-between.
It is also difficult for design firms to guarantee clients the quality of the handiwork when they are not in-charge of the hiring of qualified workers. Subcontractors may sometimes “cut corners”.
4. What style does the interior designer specialise in?
Different interior designers have different strengths and design tastes.
Some designers may specialize in kitchen space planning, while others may be better at wardrobe planning or texture coordination. Decide on which aspects of home designing you need the most help in, and get a designer that’s strong in it.
Similarly, although most designers are flexible with different design concepts, most would have one or two design styles that they tend to veer towards.
Always take a look at the designer’s past work. If they tend to do mostly Scandinavian styles, try not to ask the same designer to do something vastly different like a Victorian concept, unless you don’t mind the risk of getting a result of something that’s neither here nor there.
5. What warranty/insurance coverage does the interior design company offer?
These days, certain interior design companies offer clients a warranty on workmanship. It may sound assuring at first, but these warranties may serve more as a crowd catcher rather than an actual insurance.
Always be sure to ask about the in-depth terms and conditions towards these guarantees, the agency that audits it, and what they cover.
And ensure that all things promised to you (the fine print) are written down in black and white when you sign that dotted line.
Image: Katarzyna Białasiewicz/123rf.com
6. How well does the interior designer understand you?
At the end of the day, despite all an interior designer company can promise you, it would mean nothing if the designer has difficulties understanding what you want for your design.
In the process of chasing sales, some designers come off aggressive in closing a sale fast instead of making an effort to really understand what you’re asking for.
If you do not feel at heard or understood at the consultation, and the designer just keeps shoving things that you do not need, do not hesitate to get a second opinion.
This story was originally published in MoneySmart.