Design Horror Stories: Unprofessional Attitude – 2

There is this one designer I constantly saw at trade events. I could recognize her because she always carried her dog in her arms. That poor thing seemed to have given up and never made a sound or move. Besides being unprofessional, isn’t this a kind of animal abuse?

Sales representatives also have stories of designers behaving badly. They lack respect for other professionals in the trade and often demand to be accommodated. One example is some designers do not draw out tile layouts and calculate quantities. They buy more than necessary (with the clients’ money) and insist on returning the excess. Most tile stores do not accept returns unless the products are defected. It is possible the refund did not get credit back to the clients.

Some people just have problems being prompt. Once I referred an engineer to a residential renovation project. He connected to the homeowner and made an appointment to visit the jobsite. I was shocked when the homeowner called me and said the engineer missed the appointment with no explanation. We were concerned if anything bad had happened. It turned out there was no good reason.

Design Horror Stories: Poor Finance Management

A designer I had known for many years contracted with me for drafting for a few projects. I believed her when she wasn’t able to pay a couple of invoices and continued providing my services. One day we had a falling out and terminated our working relationship. At the end, there were 5 unpaid invoices added up to over US$3,000. I have been sending her reminders regularly for many years and not receiving any money. 

I do not understand why a reputable seasoned designer cannot prioritize taking care of team members. I guess it was my fault to trust her since this was not the first time she owed me money. I learned my lesson that when it comes to business, it is important to stay on top of money. Fortunately, this is the only person I have had money issues with  in over 20 years.

Inspirational Quotes – Part 3

Design Horror Stories: Working Outside Their Specialties

Designers often have a strong desire to solve problems for their clients. However, instead of consulting experts, some attempt to perform the tasks themselves. You can find contractors and installers playing designer or interior designers playing architect.  

A well-known kitchen designer claimed to have knowledge of architecture. She only measured and put on plans the portions of the building that was to be worked on. She would refer me for producing drawings to obtain building permits. Every single time, I found architectural issues in her design due to the adjacent areas not being considered. Once she was moving a door over the existing under-floor access. Another time I found her new window conflicted with the pipes on the exterior wall. The worst was when she was removing 20 feet of a wall that supports the exterior wall of the upper level. In addition, clients were often not thrilled to find out they had to pay additional for drawings required for building permits. Especially after they had paid a significant amount towards her kitchen design. This designer supposedly charges a high design fee. 

When I was a Kitchen and Bath Designer at a retail store, we often had customers bringing in architectural plans for a cabinet quote. A good portion of these plans of new homes had ill-planned kitchens. It was tricky to tell the customers the designs need to be reworked without throwing their designers/architects under the bus. Kitchen and bath design is not difficult, but there are a lot of details to pay attention to. 

The most common mistake, in my opinion, is hiring someone who can work drafting programs to design and create plans for construction projects. One does not need to be an architect to design homes. However, it is necessary to have architectural education and training, drafting skills and experience, and understanding of building codes and regulations. 

Building projects today can be complex and require multiple experts. A good designer should act as a project coordinator and inform clients at the beginning of the projects what consultants are needed. Clients should understand nobody can know everything. Any professional is happy to provide proof of their expertise and answer questions.   

Inspirational Quotes – Part 2