Sensitive issue – the main errors of supervision

Supervision and support of the project are, perhaps, the most sensitive topic in the ralationship between the designer and the customer.

Ideally, you first need to fully develop the project with the selection of all finishing materials, equipment, furnishing, fixtures, make all technical drawings and specifications. And only then you can begin the construction and repair works. In the process of repair the drawings and specifications of the project are used by the builders for its implementation.

However, life is far from the ideal, and the activities of an interior designer even further. Therefore, in practice it often turns out that the work on the project begins together with the repair and construction works and is being performed in parallel. This generates a lot of problems and situations of misunderstanding between the customer and the interior designer. In some cases the customer refuses the service of supervision, because he believes that having the qualitative project he will cope with its implementation himself. In other cases, on the contrary, the designer does not want to deal with the practical side of the work preferring to create and make interiors sitting in a cozy office.

Let’s try understand why suah a situation occurs and who exactly needs the author’s supervision. For this you will need to understand the gioals and tasks of the parties.

When a customer hires an interior designer, whta does he want from this collaboration? First, he wants to get a unique and exclusive interior of his home, office or other premises created exclusively for his needs and wishes. Second, he wants to minimize the cost of rework having considered all the options of the interior design at the design stage before beginning the construction and repair works.And, third, he wants to make the repair process easier, less costly in the psychological and temporal sense.Thus, the purpose of the customer is the most accurate implementation of the project of the interior design in a given area.

And it would be too primitive to think that when a designer starts to work on the project he is interested only in money. Of course, interior design is a job, and wealth creation for yourself and your family is a priority. But apart from this a designer, of course, wants to earn reputation, name, to create an object that he can be proud of and which can be placed in an honored place in his portfolio.

So, how can the supervision help both parties?

In the narrow meaning of the term the supervision is the presence of the interior designer on site to oversere the work of the builders and the compliance of works with the project. The designer must check whether all the partitions are set at the right places, if all openings are made in accordance with the project, whether finishing materials are used correctly, tile, flooring is laid in the appropriate way, the utilities outlets, such as electrical leads for sockets and switches, air vents, water and sewerage are in the right place.

But in a broader meaning the supervision includes all activities, which are necessary for a full and successful implementation of the project. This is the control of purchasing the materials, furnishing, equipment and fixtures. This is the decision of the current issues that arise during the construction and repair works and which could not be solved at the design stage. There are often quite a lot of such questions, especially when we speak on the reconstructed area. Most often they are associated with the utilities – water supply, sewerage, ventilation and so on. Sometimes unexpectedly it turns out that the construction (e.g. a wall or beam), which is considered the carrier and could not be affected, can be dismantled. Or vice versa. All these problems must be solved in the course of construction. Of course, no one will manage it better than the author of the project.

Then, there are often the situations when sertain materials, equipment, furnishings, which are bought under the order can not be delivered in time or can not be delivered at all. This can occur due to various reasons, ranging from the problems with logistics and ending with the removal of goods from the production or even the elimination of the manufacturer. In this case, it is important to quickly find alternatives, which would suit the customer for delivery time, price, quality and would correspond to the overall design concept of the interior design. With this task also unlikely someone will cope better than the author of the project.

The designer has in mind a picture of the ready interior. In fact, he does not need any drawing or visualization – he knows the result. The customer purchases this image, the embodied dream of the interior. The result and not paper or drawings are the product that the designer sells. For this outcome people will judge on his work – the customers who will live or work in the interior, the guests, who will admire it and the potential customers, who will see the photos of the realized object in the portfolio of the designer.

Therefore, both parties in any case should not neglect the supervision. Moreover, many designers who have been working in the market for 5 -10 years, with the certainty assure that the project of the interior design without the author’s support is almost useless. Its implementation is so different from the project that the designer even does not want to sugn the result, and for the customer this project is a kinf of wasted money.

Some professionals go even further – they do not offer a project, but the whole range of services up to decorating. They lead the project until the turnkey. I will not argue that it is an ideal way of cooperation. However, in my opinion, it is more successful for the customer.

What are the mistakes of a customer?

First, of course, a big mistake is a complete rejection of supervision. When a customer refuses to support the project, he can not quite imagine the scale of the process. The author’s supervision is the „dark side”, the underside of the work of an interior designer. It is a difficult and thankless task to control the work of the bilders, terms of delivery and quality of goods, to solve unexpectedly appeared problems. It is a lot of phone calls, trips, and sometimes abuse. At any site, regardless of the quality of the project this work must be performed by someone. In my opinion, it would be much more logical that this work is carried out by a professional – a designer hired specifically for it, ideally the author of the project, so saving the customer’s time, effort and nerves.

If still the supervision is being carried out, the customer often does not fully trust the designer. It is especially seen in case of any emergency technical situation. When something goes wrong and everyone atrts to look for a guilty, it is very difficult for the customer as the most interested in the result person to remain calm and reasonable. It is quite clear that if the builders say that the problem is the designer’s fault, it is easy to beleive them. The builders are often serious and experienced men. A designer may be perceived as a freelance artist, far from technical issues. But we should not hurry with the conclusions. It ois possible that the designer has no less, but even more experience in technical matters, he can have more than one or two realized objects. The customer in this situation should listen to all parties keeping a cool head. Perhaps, it is worth involve a consultant from the outside. The main thing is not to rush to blame someone, since ,ore often all situations and problems can be solved in the presence of creativity and willingness to cooperate.

The customer sghould also understand the difference between the author’s and technical supervision. The designer is not an engineer, he is nor responsible for the workers’ compliance with the technical process, proper connection of the radiators, proper installation of the sewage and so on. The author’s supervision is the control of the compliance with the project, but not the control of the quality of works. Of course, if the designer sees a clear violation of the technology or obviously poor quality, his duty is to in form the customer. But it is unfair to blame the designer that he could not notice the technical errors of the builders, because it is not his problem.

Very often the customer hurries the designer requiring to provide the individual drawings for the project. Thus, the drawings come to the site separately, not in a single project folder. Sometimes such drawings also come to the builders not in time, incomplete or unfinished at the request of the customer in order to speed up the process. Eventually, the working process will only suffer because there occur different versiona and inaccuracies.

And, perhaps, the most nughtmare for thed esigner is when during the author’s supervision the customer wants to make some significant changes to the project. For example, to change the layout or the worst – a colour solution. It would seem, well, what’s wrong – make the walls in another colour.But as the interior is a perfect combination of individual elements into a coherent whole, the change of one element imply the complete imbalance. As a result, it may be that the upholstery of the sofa does not match with the walls, and the surtains do nit match with new upholstery. We will have to make a ot of adjustments, maybe literally from scratch to select some materials. And the result will still be unpredictable. In short, once agreed on the draft, you should not significantly change it.

What are the mistakes of a designer?

The main mistake is when he is led by the customer at the expense of the production process, change the order or the project of the design works. For example, the customer often asks to make plans for the electrical outlets at the early stage of the project, as it is one of the first works on the construction site, and accordingly one of the first necessary drawings.
However, this may give rise to very unplesant mistakes, if at the time of placement of electrical leads you have not selected furniture yet. Its size can differ depending on the model. That is why we can not exclude the situation when the switch is behind the dresser, and the socket is behind the headboard. It should be remembered about it and put the customer aware of this possibility.

When communicating with the customer the designer is often too soft – comes in his wake, does not advocate his views, occupies the position of „every whim for your money”. It is quite understandable, because as they say, the customer is always right. However, you should be careful there. Sometimest, at the end the customer seeing the result says, we should yet do as you said… Why have not you convinced me? It is necessary in this matter to comply with the measure and sometimes not to be afraid to insist on.

Often the designer believes a lot of his knowledge for granted, especially if he has a large experience. And he can not even imagine that the customer does not have such knowledge. It is necessary to keep abreast of, and even at the risk to be obsessive you should be interested i the progress of the project, give advice on its implementation.

Recently I had a similar case, when the customer had ordered the doors to one manufacturere and the installation had instructed to his builders. I tried to dissuade him from it, but the customer still decided to do so. A a result, unfortunately, the doors were installed with some errors. The builders argued that it was the defect of the construction and the fault of the manufacturere. The manufacturere claimed that this was a problem of poor quality installation. I told the customer that, unfortunately, it ususally happens, that you should always try that the manufacturer install the product in order to avoid such problems. And the customer was surprised – why had not I say to him before? Yes, I suggested that the manufacturer should install the doors, but I did not warn of possible consequences of their decision.

Of course, the sticking point is also the price of supervision. The customer already has in hand a detailed and high quality project, for which he has paid a certain sum of money. To pay to the designer the same amount or even more for some not understandable to him process he certainly is not desirable. The designer also quite reasonably does not want to carry out this hard, nervous and thankless job for little money or even for free. In my opinion, the ideal decision would be the price for the project with included supervision, but for obvious reasons, it is not always possible. Perhaps, the designer should offer the customer various options for cooperation on the supervision stage, so, that the customer could choose most acceptable for him scheme of work and payment.

The designers often compare their objects to children wha are born in pain and who are then so hard to let go. In this case we should remember the saying „No one who has given birth – and the one who has grown up”. If the design process is similar to childbirth and pregnancy, then the author’s supervision is raising „a child’. Just by giving it due attention, patience and diligence you get the result you can be proud of.