When to call in the professionals

Turn on the TV these days and the channel hop will likely lead you to a home improvement program awash in design inputs.

But do we have people like Kevin McCloud, whose every word we cling to has actually made the public more inclined to involve a design professional in a project, or do we still think the money should go to the sophisticated and light kitchen statement we saw in a magazine?

“I think when people are remodeling their homes, they sometimes see the cost of hiring an interior designer as an almost unnecessary luxury item,” says David O’Brien, interior designer at RJ O’ Brien Building Contractors and RTÉ finalist. House of the year 2021.

“I sense people are also nervous about interior designers imposing their ideas and tastes on them,” he says. “Remember, the role of an interior designer is to listen carefully to you, the client, and help translate your ideas into a cohesive design.”

The design of Lucy Jones’ coastal house in Kinsale, Co. Cork maximizes access to views and connects the house to the outdoors, while floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to flood in.

But he also argues that hiring a designer saves money in the long run.

“It can be so easy to get carried away during a renovation or construction and spend a fortune on items that really won’t have any impact,” he says, citing fancy power outlets and lights which are useless.

But the number one problem he sees is the lack of flow and continuity, which can be, he says, “many different types of flooring that end abruptly in each room, undermining the overall sense of flow in the whole house”.

    David O'Brien, interior designer at RJ O'Brien Building Contractors.
David O’Brien, interior designer at RJ O’Brien Building Contractors.

And sometimes there are missed opportunities that the designer’s eye will instantly notice, like “…not taking full advantage of the look of the room or the connections and views to their garden,” David adds. “It can be hard to visualize a renovation when you’re in the middle of it. Sometimes all it takes is a new pair of experienced eyes to see the hidden potential.

He is also aware of the impact on the client of relentless decision-making.

“The decision fatigue is real,” he says, “especially in the middle of the project when contractors ask you to choose radiators, outlets, switches, baseboards. Having an interior designer on board means these decisions are made well in advance, eliminating stress and avoiding quick decision regrets afterwards.

    Antipas Jones Architects use models to test different options and discuss the cost, construction and legislation of each with their client.
Antipas Jones Architects use models to test different options and discuss the cost, construction and legislation of each with their client.

When it comes to finishing and adding the top layer of style, David says, “The devil is in the details and a lot of people struggle to put together the final look. An interior designer will help you bring texture, warmth, and a sense of style to your new space.

Lucy Jones, architect at Dublin firm Antipas Jones, says: “Hiring an architect can seem extravagant for a small job. Architect fees can be around 10%, which sounds like a lot, but because design and construction are complex, professional advice and good design are invaluable. It can be hard to see this when you’re allocating the costs up front. “

But there are things that can go wrong without an architect, including poor design where the end result isn’t what you hoped for, according to Lucy. “It could be because the strategy was wrong, you didn’t detail or specify properly, or the builders were poor,” she says, “It’s hard to figure out and can be really disappointing.” Compliance is another issue, including building regulations, planning legislation, and health and safety laws that an architect can help you navigate.

    Lucy Jones, architect at Antipas Jones.
Lucy Jones, architect at Antipas Jones.

“These regulations can be difficult to understand if you don’t have professional help,” she explains. “And if you get it wrong, the implications can range from difficulty obtaining compliance documents that will hinder the sale or rental of a property, to serious legal implications.

“If you’re planning a project,” says Lucy, “you need to put everything on paper early with a price tag and compare it to your brief and your budget. If any of the overruns occur on site, this can be very stressful and difficult to resolve. »

For starters, she suggests buying half an hour of an architect’s time to explain what it entails. “It can help you make more informed decisions and plan your next steps,” she says. “Architecture can be wonderful and there are great events that exemplify it. Check out the Architecture Diary What’s On: Ireland Architecture Diary platform.

“Knowing a little more about the subject can help you understand the value an architect can bring.”

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