DESIGNER TALK: Red Flags When Interviewing a Designer

by | Design & Remodeling, Designer Talk


Every day, designer Jake Spurgeon is in the homes of potential clients who are interested in working with Mosby Building Arts for their remodel. This is essentially a job interview to help you determine if this is a company you want to partner with. It is also the time to be looking for red flags that indicate you and the company may not be a good match.

To have complete peace of mind and trust in whom you hire, Jake reveals the best questions to ask to reveal red flags and help you make the right decision of who to work with:

What is your process and how long will it take?

You want an idea of how the company works together, from the beginning to the end of the project. A clearly defined process indicates an organized company. After defining exactly what you want done to your home, your designer should have a good starting estimate of how much time is needed to design and build your project. Do not accept vague time frames if you have a specific deadline.

What is your work permit process?

The only good answer to this question is the company will pull permits, and they will do it – not you. Every reputable remodeler prefers to be responsible for the detailed permit process, and this saves you a lot of time and headaches. If a company says permits are not necessary or that you should get them, that is your red flag to look elsewhere.

What are your credentials?

You need to know how qualified you designer and their company are to work on your project.
Are the designers certified in kitchen and bath design (for instance, I’m an Associate Kitchen & Bathroom Designer with the National Kitchen & Bath Association)?
Is there a registered architect that will oversee and stamp the construction drawings?
You also want to be assured that the company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau, and has appropriate insurance.
All of these items protect you, your investment and your remodeling goals. If they lack credentials, you may need to look elsewhere.

What kind of warranty do you have?

Many items used in a project have a manufacturer’s warranty. What you need to know is how the company that installed these items will take care of any problems that may arise after the fact. You’re looking for a workmanship warranty, and what exactly does it cover and for how long (this is our 10-year warranty). You need to be assured that your company stands behind their work for the long haul.

St. Louis kitchen remodel by Mosby Building Arts, designed by Jake Spurgeon.

Can I see examples of your work and references?

Examples: We love this question, and by all means yes! You will learn a lot of valuable information about your designer and the production team while viewing the portfolio.

References: Reputable companies are happy to share them. Though I have seen a shift in the last 5 years or so, with that question being asked less often because homeowners do a lot of internet research (think Houzz, BBB, Guild Quality, etc.) before inviting a designer into their home. Often I offer to share references and they decline because they already know more about us than I do! But anyway, if you ask for references and they hem and haw, consider it a red flag.

Asking these basic questions will usually give you a good idea of what kind of remodeling company you’re dealing with, and help you decide if you want to pursue a working relationship with them.

Oh, I also recommend paying close attention to the kind of questions the designer asks you! It will give you valuable insight into the company’s priorities and focus. And you can learn if the project will be about you and your style, or just something the designer wants in their portfolio. It happens.

If you have a St. Louis home remodeling and design project in mind, and would like to put me through my paces, give me a call at 314.909.1800 or contact me here.