Ok This is part 2, the nitty-gritty details about hiring a designer.
My personal choice at Fiore Studio is to create an agreement, or contract, after the first meeting with prospective clients. I recap what I understand to be their priorities and how I charge for services and goods. It explains what and where we purchase, how long we work together, etc. The client has time to review, make additions and changes, and we each sign it. It's truly an agreement. Legally it's a contract. It's only one page long! :) I encourage every consumer to ask for and expect a written agreement whenever they embark on custom projects. The clarification it provides it priceless and keeps the design process running smoothly.
An interior design contract is a legal document which spells out the terms of a relationship between an interior designer and a client. Professional organizations of interior designers highly recommend that everyone who embarks on an interior design project obtain a contract and review the contract carefully. Many interior designers maintain basic contracts which can be adjusted to fit minor jobs, and a contract can also be customized for a project with the assistance of a lawyer, as might be the case with major projects such as completing the interior design scheme for a hotel or office building.
In an interior design contract, a number of stipulations are spelled out. The contract clearly lays out the scope of the project and the responsibilities of the interior designer, and it establishes deadlines for various stages of the project. Interior design contracts also include a discussion of the fees involved, including an explanation of the estimate for the project, and the types of expenses which may arise while the project is completed.
As with other types of business contracts, an interior design contract also includes a section which discusses dispute resolution options and what will happen if either party involved decides to break the contract. This section may mandate that the designer or client retain the services of a particular company which specializes in arbitration, in the event that the relationship becomes problematic. It also spells out which party is responsible for which costs in the event that the contract is broken.
The goal of an interior design contract is to make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of the expectations of the other party. It also acts as insurance in the event that the project goes sour, and outlines responsibilities of all parties. The contract may also discuss the use of subcontractors and consultants, and spell out special concerns like ecologically friendly sourcing of materials or the use of hypoallergenic materials in the design scheme.
The contract is typically written by the interior designer after a consultation with the client about the project. Clients have the right to take the contract home and review it, and for large projects, it may be a good idea to get a lawyer to review the contract. If clients have a dispute about a clause in the contract, want to add material to the contract, or are concerned about parts of the document, they should bring up these issues before signing the contract. Clients should never sign an interior design contract without reading it, and they should not be afraid to request changes to make sure that they feel comfortable with the terms of the interior design contract.