No client is the same but a lot of the questions I get from them are. Below you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions to ensure we start and end on the same page. I invite you to ask me anything that’s not included or to clarify anything that is.
Design has a lot of layers of costs including costs for products and materials, installation, shipping, and my fees. At the beginning of our work together, I will estimate how much I believe everything will cost based on our project scope and my experience with similar projects. However, that number can change as there are several moving parts in this line of work. For example, we may need to rush an order on a product. Or, installation may be more complicated than anticipated.
Having a budget is really important for keeping a project running smoothly and you being happy with the final results. We do our best to work inside your budget parameters, but ultimately, it’s up to you to keep yourself on budget. How can you do this?
Here four key ways you can help us stay on budget as close as possible:
1. Spend more money earlier on. It sounds counterintuitive but spending more on the front end will save you on the back end. How? When it comes to important pieces that you’re expecting to keep for a long time and/or use a lot, make an investment. It’s much better to spend more money on something quality (that you LOVE) one time than less money many times on replacements (that don’t even look that great). Spending on cheaper items repeatedly will actually end up costing you more.
2. Spend more time earlier on. Expect to spend more time with me in the planning phase of the project hammering out the details on paper rather than in the construction phase when you’d have to pay for change orders. I know you’re anxious to get started but doing our homework early will make the actual construction phase go faster and smoother.
3. Communicate. Ask questions about the process. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like. Share your expectations early on. Confusion and miscommunication just add more time and money.
4. Be decisive. Indecisiveness adds more time and money; the quicker you are in making decisions, the quicker the process goes and the less time you are paying designer fees.
Every project is different, but I will give you an estimate at the start of our work together. I recommend hiring a designer at least 6 months before you would like to start a project. This is because we may have wait times or we may need time honing your vision and lining up items and workers. Design work is not something you want to fast track. It’s important we move through every step with a high level of detail to ensure the function and aesthetic meet your needs and desires with a cohesive look and feel.
Just like with the budget, there are actions you can take to help us stay on schedule with the parts we CAN control.
1. Share your style. Show me what you love…and HATE. You can do this by creating boards on Pinterest, tearing out pages of magazines, screenshotting images on websites, and telling me what brands you like. It’s incredibly helpful to have a client who knows what they like and want—but also has an open mind to new ideas that you may initially be uncomfortable with. (But if you don’t like a suggestion, you won’t hurt my feelings!).
2. Plan ahead. Materials and products can have long lead times, especially upholstery and trade items which can exceed two months plus transport time. It’s important to take this into consideration when choosing your items. I will guide you in what you need to get on order to keep the project moving along.
3. Be decisive. Changing your mind many times or being uncertain about what you want is a good way to drag out a project. Do your homework by getting ideas, inspiration, and direction from Pinterest, design magazines, Houzz.com, favorite brand websites, etc. and share them with the CLD team.
We start broad and then funnel down to the fine details: We begin with your overall style for your home or space, then focus on each room/space, determining items like fixtures, paint colors, cabinetry, furnishings, and layout, to name a few. For a detailed overview of my process, visit here.
Since I work hourly, expanding the scope of the project is no problem! Just like with your initial project, we would have another consultation to get the ball rolling on your expanded scope.
We do not provide contractor services so working with independent architects and contractors hired by you are an integral part of the process. We come together as a team committed to giving you the space you love!
Because you hired me to design and complete your vision, we prefer that you do not purchase items on your own without our approval. This is to ensure cohesion with the overall design, space and budget. You’ll receive a detailed Specification for items to be purchased direct.
A Specification Sheet is a document that I give you that provides details for an item for you to buy yourself directly from the vendor. A Proposal is a document I give you that requests payment from you for an item that I buy on your behalf from manufacturers that sell only to the trade. Proposals are payable to Caroline Levenson Design. Please note this Proposal is different than the Project Proposal you receive at the beginning of our work together.
Once I give you a proposal, you have three (3) days to either accept or decline the item. If you accept, a signed copy of the proposal along with full payment is required within seven (7) days.
Usually orders cannot be cancelled or refunded. If you can cancel the order, you will get a refund for the cost of the item minus the purchasing and any other applicable fees. Custom orders are nonreturnable. Please note, requests for returns and cancellations are billed hourly. Design fees and reimbursable expenses are non-refundable, even in the case of a return or cancellation. (See above about how indecision can be costly).
As noted, proposal payments are due within seven (7) days. Invoices for time billing and reimbursable expenses are due within 14 days. Invoices more than 30 days past due will be charged a 10% late fee and all work will cease until the invoice is paid. Please don’t hesitate to ever ask any questions about the above or anything that comes up in our project. I’m excited to partner with you to hone your vision and bring it to life.
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