Wally Orfield recently signed a contract for the largest job his Minneapolis-based company's ever had. Orfield's projects, usually in six figures, often involve additions coupled with renovations of existing space, frequently a bathroom or a kitchen. The problem he's had is one that many remodelers share. From paint colors to light fixtures to cabinets, clients can't make up their minds about product selections.
Now, instead of leaving product selections up to customers, Orfield plans to bill clients for X number of hours of an interior designer's services -- eight hours is the number he's thinking of -- and build the cost of that service into the contract. The criteria he's using to choose an interior design firm, or firms, are "enthusiasm and expertise." The idea is that, having written their services into the contract, he will pay them their initial fee as subcontractors.
"The primary reason we're doing this," says Rachel Orfield, office manager and salesperson, "is to move projects along quickly and make the right decisions the first time."
At the moment, the search is on to find an interior design firm or, better yet, two of them, to partner with Orfield Remodeling and its clients. Using several firms would provide "different levels of expertise, so we're not tied to a single cost," Orfield says. Designers, he points out, not only get billable hours but the opportunity to do additional work with clients in choosing furnishings and furniture.
Orfield says building a designer's services into the project could also save clients money. "[Designers] can help clients avoid making mistakes -- like picking the wrong color -- and they can suggest alternative, and potentially less costly, materials."