To begin, it is necessary to avoid verbal commitments, directives, and decisions. In the brainstorming function, anything goes! Talk about possibilities, pros and cons, and “druthers”; but the serious action plan must be agreed upon in writing.
Preliminarily, conscientious use of simple duplicate memos, emails, notes and letters will help to ensure that intentions are becoming grounded and clearly understood by both parties.
Then, at an appropriate juncture which your designer will identify, you will have clarified enough to allow your designer to develop the basic Proposal, Contract, Agreement or Memo of Clarification to set the foundation for a clean start.
The degree of complexity of your project documentation depends somewhat on the scope of the project, as well as the degree of professional service that has been determined to be needed. You will want to buy only what you understand is needed, and to know exactly the form in which that service will be delivered.
Some projects may require consultation only. On the other hand, you may want a complete package including full project coordination, design, purchasing, and installation supervision.
The paper work will tie down all aspects of your project. Properly done, it will clarify cost parameters, and will define and describe exactly what can be determined at the front end, and exactly what must be determined at other stages of the project’s process.
Ask your design professional to define the documentation. For instance, what is meant by a “full proposal?” A full proposal (Design Services Contract) encompasses all aspects of the proposed project and may be organized by specific aspects (focus areas) for clarity. Full proposals provide how the project will be developed, in detail, by phases, and often reflect large projects that may take several years to complete.
On the other hand, your project may only require a “short term contract” which sets terms and conditions, establishes the fee structure, and provides a document to address smaller projects.
When your professional will also be facilitating your project purchases, that service will include shopping tours, development of all purchase specifications and quotations, purchase orders, order coordination, delivery and installation supervision.
It is important to understand the difference between a "full proposal" and "a bid." A bid is a response to a specific Request For Proposal (RFP) that is developed by a prospect. The RFP may or may not reflect the true requirements to complete the project.
Every project, large or small, is subject to change. The changes may be large and involve scope and costs, or may be minor but important. A Change Order is implemented, under signature, when there is any deviation from the agreed scope of work or any additions, deletions or modifications of its interpretive details.
Become familiar with the various ways to document your specific project. You and your professional should review all your preliminary notes, discussions, speculations and possibilities. Then, together you can determine the appropriate documentation and path forward. Your designer will not promise what cannot and should not be promised. On-going re-authorizations and/or change orders will cleanly address small adjustments for circumstances that cannot be determined in the beginning.
Team interface and management is an essential element of any efficient design project. Your designer will coordinate Sub-Contractors at appropriate junctures, and will oversee their work to insure quality and efficiency. Your designer will make sure that sub-contracting services stay within your budgeting parameters, and will maintain advocacy for the client’s vision.
Robert Boccabella, B.F.A., Certified Interior Designer
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Collaboration & Writing: Ms. Zoe Tummillo