DIY Mistery for Interior Renovation

For cutting costs, some of the clients told me they could supervise the construction site by themselves without me being involved, I found it very amusing and thought the home remodeling TV shows and the big building material supply stores really poisoned the consumers with DIY very well.

Many consumers don’t know how to read technical drawings such as schedules, elevations, sections, and details, without the knowledge of understanding technical drawings, how possibly they can know what the builders are doing on site? Those fancy 3D perspective color renderings look nice but really don’t tell you that much. Even for those technical savvy consumers who know how to read the technical drawings, one thing they will never know is that when they see the workers were installing base boards or door casings, if it was the accurate timing for such tasks?

Some builders and contractors don’t prioritize the tasks correctly due to lack of understanding the design details, so they might look like they have been working hard at the job site, but the tasks they performed might not be proper for that particular timing, and no any drawing will tell you that.

For example, I once designed a double swing door using floor and ceiling recessed mount pivot hinges for a project, and the door stop for that door was another piece of millwork right next to it. The contractor wanted to show the client some progress, so he quickly asked the millwork shop to install the millwork that also served as the door stop and also asked the painters to paint the walls and base boards around the millwork without installing the door panels first. The client went to the job site and saw the workers were working very hard so he felt happy since he saw “the progress”, then he returned to the job site a week later and saw all those installed millwork and base boards had been taken down. It turned out the contractor had to ask the millwork shop to take everything down because he needed to have the slab fabricator cut the floor slabs for installing the swing door’s pivot hinge on the floor. The painted ceiling also needed to be broken in order to install the other pivot hinge on the ceiling, and the walls near the millwork had to be re-painted because the walls were damaged when millwork people tried to take down the millwork, and because the wall finish was eggshell which could not be touched-up partially, the entire walls in that area needed to be re-painted. The worst part was the walls were spread painted, so the painters had to spend the entire day just to tape up the plastic wraps to protect other installed millwork in the same area before they did the spread paint. One step forward, ten steps backwards. This is the best example not to DIY the job site supervision.

Sales, Sales, and Sales

Throughout my design career, I have met many people from different companies, Audio/Visual companies, lighting design firms, general contractors, or kitchen companies, during the initial contact, I always met the people who sounded very knowledgeable, they always presented themselves with great knowledge and also very persuasive. Their sales and marketing skills were excellent and always made the impression that they are trustworthy and professional.

However, after working with some of the companies for a while, I started to realize some issues occurred such as the things were not coordinated or followed up properly, and when the clients and I questioned about the issues, they always showed the great skill to calm you down and ensure everything will be fine with sweet, smooth, and very diplomatic talks, and when the clients and I finally realized the issues were more serious and complained to the owners of the businesses, then all over the sudden, those talkative people just disappeared, instead, the real knowledgeable people started to show up at the job site to solve the issues, and when I asked them why we had never been told about all these problems earlier by those sweet talkers from their companies? they basically said “Oh! He/She was just a sales, so he/she would not have known all these!” What?! a sales? I was very serious here about the issues, and the whole time I had been talking to a sales?!

I had to admit I got fooled few times like that, the people from certain companies I had dealt with were actually sales, but they talked so smoothly, I mistakenly thought they were the actual engineers or technical people, but the funny thing was, those real technical people and engineers usually were the people with few words.

Lesson learned: those who talk the most usually the ones know the least. When I hire anyone from now on, not only I want to know the company owner or the front man but the people who will actually do the work. Sometimes when some businesses are well-known, it is not because they are really good at what they do but because they are good at marketing. We must overcome this blind spot when hiring any professional.

Interior Design Job Site Supervision Mentality

One thing that always amuses me when I deal with the general contractors, vendors, AV consultants, or millwork shops throughout the years is that those who always blamed me of “pointing fingers” are the ones always made mistakes. Nowadays, many people do not have the sense of responsibility, when they failed to execute the requested tasks, they always acted defensive and blamed me for “finger pointing” when I sent them the emails to remind them what they have forgotten, but when I sent the similar type of emails to those who always did their jobs correctly, they just considered my emails as friendly reminders.