Top 10 Mistakes Interior Designers Make

“Every noble work is at first impossible." – Thomas Carlyle” is a great description that correctly illustrates the natural conflict that arises when you mesh together the creative soul – designer with the Type A personality – project manager in a space with lots of change, little time and never enough money! At the prodding of Design Elixir I am giving you my “list of mistakes” made by designers during my 27 years of construction management experience.
 10.  Timing. Projects have a variety of time-lines and often the timing of final selections hinder the progress of the project. Recognizing long lead time items from the beginning, like special flooring tiles, lighting, and items like artisan sinks, or items that may seem like a simple add but are labor intensive to complete – i.e. faux painting a wall, could make a very positive impact on the move in date.

9. Adding elements at the last minute. Some designer elements may need special plumbing or electrical connections or may change what has already been installed in the “rough in” stage of the project. Last minute changes can create a windfall of extras to the client and ultimately back up the project schedule.

8. Receiving “buy in” from the owner before presenting to contractors. I have experienced projects where a designer has introduced an element into a project that an owner just plain doesn’t want in their space or does not work with their perceived vision. This can delay the project and cost the owner/designer time and money.

7.  When working with an outside Architect, making sure the design elements work within the limitations of the building/space. The common use of exposed ceilings – when the structure is in design can help with design of steel support structures, placement of beams/columns/windows and doors.

6.  Designers need to include dimensions of their designs. Often we will see designs that do not include the proper dimensions or are not to correct scale and when applied in the field, mistakes are made or work has to re-done to match the intent of the designer.  {Design Elixir Recommends: Construction Drawings and Details for Interiors: Basic Skills }

5.  Designers need to be aware of local and national codes. We sometimes see designers want to include features that impact the 1 or 2 hour rated walls or want doors which are for emergency egress to be removed or moved. These changes create issues within the space meeting local/national codes. {Design Elixir Recommends: Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2009 International Building Code }
4.  ADA Requirements. Designers need to look at ADA requirements when looking at specialty items such as toilets, restroom sinks, grab bars, clearance in hallways and landings. Local/national codes have certain requirements that need to be met and adhered to.

3.  When making choices for flooring, designers needs to remember the function of the client. If they have heavy foot traffic like construction trades (retail, tile distributor, tools sales etc), it does not make sense to install wood flooring or light carpet. Some items make look great on the designer board but just don’t work for the owner in the long run.

2. Lighting can be a very critical item. Designers need to know the owners work habits, employee’s work habits and the orientation of the building. These can all have a huge impact on lighting design and layout.

And finally, the number one thing designers can do that will impact the project during the construction process….

1. Designers need to include the contractor in the process. Meetings with owners, designer’s architects and contractor can pay huge dividends for all. Include everyone in meetings as early in the process as possible. These can have substantial impact on budgets, time-lines

Guest Blogger: Tim Roberts, Buckingham Construction Company

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