Explaining the Design Process: How Long will my Project take to Design?

Despite the impression that Instagram reels & Reality TV Interior Design shows give of designers waltzing around waving a fan deck and fabric swatches, then it all comes to life and is designed and built in a day (or an hour!), that’s not a true interpretation of what we do & how long it actually takes. Those TV shows have a whole team of designers behind the scenes busy designing and documenting, making sure it will all work on site, getting permits, making sure it’s all on budget, etc.

Nor are we sitting around at our desks surfing the internet, Pinning images to Pinterest until you pick up the phone to call us about your new Project.

When you ask us to rush the Design Process, then mistakes are made that YOU’LL inevitably pay for to correct with your $$$

We designers work on multiple projects at once, at various stages of completion; some are in the Investigation & sketch plan stage, some have progressed into Concept & Documentation stages which are more time-intensive. Others are in Construction; depending on the size of the project, they can still take up considerable time on site visits and answering contractor’s questions or making design changes that the client has requested.

Every small local design business works this way; it’s not economically feasible to have ANY designer at a loose end waiting for you to call.

What happens when I enquire about my New Project?

When you call, we need to schedule your new project in and around the current project needs & workflow. Many local design studios have a wait-list, or book clients months in advance.

You must plan ahead if you want to work with your preferred design studio; if you leave it until the 11th hour you’ll find that they don’t have the staff capacity to take on any more work. If you have time constraints (such as you’ve just signed your lease & have a rent-free period you want to take advantage of, or you’re moving house and want the work done before you move in), you’ll definitely need to plan MONTHS ahead.

If your rent free period is 2 months, there is no way in #&*R%@ Your Project can be space planned well, designed well, documented thoroughly & correctly (see…I’ve underlined that; when we rush the Design Process then mistakes are made that YOU’LL inevitably pay for to correct with your $$$), permits applied for and approved (and in Victoria the regulations and permit process can be truely pedantic & frustrating – to put it mildly), and constructed all in that timeframe. As they say in The Castle: “Your dreaming”. Don’t expect your designer & builder to pay the price for your poor planning.

A rushed Design Process also leads to missed opportunities for you…make sure you’ve got the best result to suit you.

A rushed Design Process also leads to missed opportunities for you: options we can’t explore, time doesn’t get invested in creating visual 3D rendered views to make sure the design hits all your key needs & is perfect for you, other things that you may want that get pushed to the side due to time constraints. When you’re investing in your project, you’ll want to explore all the opportunities available to you to make sure you’ve got the best result to suit you.

You WILL end up searching around or someone…anyone…to do your project, and that anyone will not be your 1st preference (or even your 3rd).

What should I do if I want my preferred Designer on my team?

You must plan well ahead. Your designer can give you good advise on how long your project will take to design and document. It’s not just about the size of your project, the quality and level of detail that may be required (particularly if you want quality design detailing and materials) will increase the amount of time it takes to document.

If you need a lot of custom cabinetry & architectural elements, that is a very time-intense task – custom design is detail-driven (because it’s non-standard), requires careful planning & research, consultation with contractors & consultants, and by it’s very nature being hand-made or one-off, it can be expensive, therefore we take the time to document it right, to resolve all the details & avoid costly mistakes.

Don’t expect your designer & builder to pay the price for your poor planning.

If your project involves engineers and other consultants, that will also increase the time it takes. Building Surveyors are increasingly demanding engineering documentation for even small cutouts of under 100 square metres, where they did not require it in years past. Working wth consultants increases the time it takes to document a project and co-ordinate their services design with the architectural drawings.

We recommend you start enquiring 3-6 months (or even 12-18 months for a larger project or new home build) before you need your preferred designer on board to start your project. Make sure you are aware of how long your project will take; ASK for clear advise on this from your designer at the time you given a design fee.

We can’t give you an indication of the time at the first phone call with you; we need a lot more information in order to judge the timeframe. As I say on every Blog post: every project is UNIQUE and each project needs a thorough brief for the timeframe to be assessed separately.

Look at booking & paying a deposit to LOCK IN with your favourite designer a month or more in advance, so you’ll know that you’re Project design is scheduled in to start on time.

Our standard project timeline below illustrates your typical Project Timeline

  • Information Gathering: Initial Site Investigation, taking the Brief & Sketch Planning & the Moodboard

  • Investment estimate (by Your Project Manager & Builder)

  • Concept Design, schematic illustrations & sketches, FF&E Preliminaries & Joinery Preliminaries

  • Update Investment estimate (by your Project Manager & Builder)

  • Detail Design & Documentation, drafting plans & elevations for permits, detail design of Joinery, scheduling of FF&E, coordinate with consultants

  • Permit Application (by your Project Manager

  • Construction Documentation, Tender stage RFI’s, revisions to documentation in preparation for construction

  • Tender (by your Project Manager)

  • Construction Stage Design Services, Site meeting & inspections, site instructions & responding to RFI’s, materials approvals, Shop drawing review, Defects Inspection & report, As Built documentation, Handover attendance.

  • As Builts

Lisa is a very dedicated professional with a keen eye for fine detail and accurate documentation. I have worked with Lisa on more than 10 airport lounges and I can highly recommend her work. Lisa is also good a reviewing and coordinating services drawings.

D. Johnson

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

So, why Hire an Interior Designer?

Unfortunately many people get confused or intimidated by the idea of hiring a professional Interior Designer for their project, and might be concerned about the process of working with a designer & the costs of doing so.

A lot of people I meet feel that they can hire a builder and do the design themselves, selecting materials and fixtures in dribs and drabs, often at the last minute (leading to less choice) with poor planning & lack of an overall vision. This will lead increased costs due to changes, additions and variations that the builder will not have allowed for.

You will save money & time. Your designer will plan functional and appealing spaces, provide drawings, visualisations & material / furnishing selections in a strategic manner so you can get competitive quotes, and you know what the design will look like & cost right from the start.

You require a Qualified Interior Designer & Registered Building Practitioner for any commercial project or residential project that requires a building permit; a proper interior designer is a highly trained & experienced registered professional, not just someone with ‘a good eye for colour’ and a knack for picking furniture.

Let’s make something beautiful together, book an appointment to explore your dream project.

Image: Omar Rodriguez @ormphotography