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The Best Time To Hire A Designer And How To Get The Most Out Of Your Experience

We totally get it, making the decision to hire a designer isn't easy. At NFG Designs, we understand that there are many variables that should be taken into consideration when hiring a designer and we honestly love knowing that our potential clients are doing their homework before they sign on the dotted line. Some of the most common questions we receive about working with a designer is about the timing of it all. When is the best time to hire a designer? Does a specific scope of work dictate when we should begin to work with a designer? How long does the process take? What are the standard lead times for all of the moving parts?

Well, we are here to help. Through years of industry experience, we have complied some of our best advice and common scenarios for 3 different types of projects and how to get the most of out working with a designer from the start.

If you're revamping a room...

When you are redecorating a room that requires no structural changes or renovations, connect with a decorating professional at any time. Most decorators charge a consultation fee for their time to come out, review your space, needs, take measurements, review design styles, etc. and from there it's very important that the person you brought in asks the dreaded question about budget. Here at NFG Designs, we are asking this question in our Discovery Calls before we even go out to consultations to make sure we aren't wasting anyone's time.

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to be prepared for both design and product lead times. Your decorator or designer will remind you of these time frames throughout the duration of the project, and with NFG Designs our design lead times can be anywhere from 2-6 weeks and product lead times can be anywhere between 4-12 weeks depending on availability of the items and where it's all coming from.

Tip: Want to decrease your project's carbon footprint? Ditch the off shore products and try your best to source from local makers or Canadian companies. At NFG Designs, we love supporting small businesses and working with talented creatives right here in our community.

If you're renovating a space...

When you are dealing with a larger scale renovation, normally you are making changes that would involve any of the following: electrical, plumbing or structural edits like walls, bulkheads, ceiling details, windows, doorways etc. In this case, you would want to start working with a designer about 6-8 weeks before demolition takes place and the project commences. This allows enough time for the designer to turn around the design, present to the clients and connect with the contractor who will be doing the job. It is all in the details and communication is key, so the more time there is to prepare, the better the chances are of a successful project.

Depending on the scale of your renovation, your lead times will vary. For example, a full powder room renovation might take 2-3 weeks, where as a full kitchen renovation would probably be closer to 8-10 weeks. The more elements and layers your design has, the longer the lead time you should expect.

Tip: Remember the bigger picture! Investing in quality products and working with companies that stand behind their warranties is essential. Long-term maintenance, repair and replacement expenses should be considered from day one.

If you're building a home...

So you want to build from the ground up, huh? Well, this process tends to be a little less black and white than redecorating or renovating your home. First comes the architect, second comes the builder and then the designer. Chances are, you will be working with an architect and/or builder up to a year before you even break ground. Don't get us wrong, this is a good thing. As mentioned earlier, it is all in the details and the more time that your team has to prepare and communicate with one another, the more successful the project will be. When building a custom home, you should be looking for your designer anywhere between 6-10 months before construction commences. When it comes to committing to your design professional, here at NFG Designs we recommend that once you have your drawings submitted for permits with your architect, you reach out to us for a consultation so we can understand your design needs and proceed with putting together a scope of work and value based design fee for the job.

The earlier you start to work with a designer, the more detailed and truly custom your home will be.

Design lead times for new build homes can be anywhere between 10-14 weeks based on the square footage of the home, the number of rooms, the amount of built-in cabinetry, the intricacy of any wall or ceiling details and the list goes on. Once we present to our clients, there are normally some revisions that need to be worked through, which can add on a couple more weeks to the design process. Our goal is to have majority, if not all, of the details figured out and ready to go just as the contractor is wrapping up framing. Once framing is done, they will move onto HVAC, electrical and plumbing rough ins. This means they will need answers from you about placement, measurements, specifications, etc.

Tip: Do you have any specific artwork that you absolutely adore? A record player that you use daily? Or perhaps any special furniture pieces that you plan to bring in to your new home? Let your designer know about these details as early on as possible. This way, we can make sure that those items are truly highlighted in the design, whether it's through the use of lighting, mouldings, niches, particular colours and materials, or simply placing an outlet in a special place.

How to maximize your experience...

Come prepared.

Collect your inspiration photos, create a list of likes and dislikes, set your non-negotiable and have a clear budget and timeline in mind. Bringing as much information to the table as you can from the beginning helps your designer create a game plan for success and allows a better understanding of your goals and desires for the project.

Don't know what your budget or timeline should look like? No problem. You can book a Discovery Call with us where we chat through your project and specific needs to make sure these details are realistic.

Communication is key.

A thriving project is built off of solid communication. It is essential that everyone is on the same page in order for things to come together. This goes for design decisions, budget, payment, placing orders, lead times, timelines and any changes along the way. Ultimately, designers are here to help you and that's why you hire them. Making the process as seamless as possible is every designers motivation, so be honest, speak up and keep the conversation going.

Trust us.

At the end of the day, you hired a professional for a reason. You value their expertise, experience, skills and hopefully, you trust them. Sometimes, it's hard for clients to look past a specific fabric or a certain light fixture and see the bigger picture. But we do. Trusting your designers vision and letting go of every little detail can truly make all the difference for your project and end result. So let your hired professional do their best work and have full confidence in their creative abilities. Does this scare you? Don't worry, this doesn't mean that we are disregard what you have asked for, want or need for your home. It just means you are letting the artist paint on the canvas without holding their hand, controlling the brush strokes. There is no doubt that you can tell when a space comes to life just as intended without any interruption.

To learn more about our process, specifically, visit our Process page on our website or reach out via our Contact Form to book a Discovery Call.

To hear me speak a bit more about this topic, you can tune into our IGTV series here.

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