m3vk

Designer frustration

m k
last month

We hired a designer for our kitchen remodel last winter. Due to covid and being a first line responder, we asked if we could hold off on the remodel. It took a few weeks to get a response back from the designer but she did say yes, to contact her a few weeks before we were ready to start.
Fast forward to today, we've signed a contract with the contractor with a start date in June. I've been emailing and calling the designer to make their office aware of our plans. (I emailed in December to notify them that we would need their services this spring. No response. I called a few weeks ago and received no call back.) We signed a contract this week with the contractor and are ready to continue. I emailed, called and finally posted on their Instagram early this week. I finally received a call from their head of Operations. She said they're extremely busy and will look over the contract and where we left off. The contractor wants to meet in two weeks to flesh out the details of the remodel. I would like our kitchen designer there. I asked if a designer from their firm would be able to attend. She said possibly. I asked when I would hear back from her and she said tomorrow morning. That never happened. I emailed the contractor and set a time and cc'd the designer's head of operations. I don't think it's fair to make the contractor wait because of their lack of response. I'm feeling very frustrated by their lack of response and professionalism.
We spent over $3k for their design help and all we have gotten is a design board that I am not completely happy with (minor changes.)
What would you do in this situation? I am hoping they will assign us a designer who will be more responsive. My spouse wants to sue for breach of contract. (We have a clear paper trail.) I just want my kitchen designed by a professional. Not sure how to handle this.

Comments (16)

  • calidesign
    last month

    What was the $3K for? Was it a retainer or for services that they haven't done for you? Hopefully that charge wasn't just for the mood board. I would try to find another designer. If you can't get them to return calls and be responsive now, you certainly don't want them working on your project and causing delays. I'd give them one last chance to be responsive and assign you a new designer, with the clear understanding that if they do not meet their contractual obligations that you will be suing them. Be sure to notify them of this IN WRITING. I would take the letter in person and try to speak to whoever is in charge.

    m k thanked calidesign
  • HU-290654264
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Just because you’re ready now doesn’t mean you get to jump to the head of the line. Most firms are backed up 6-8 weeks with people ahead of you. You get to start at the end of the line. When you do get through the design phase, then you’ve got 16-24 weeks of lead time for products.

    You jumped the gum hiring contractor. And you drug your feet on the process. You should have completed the design work this past winter, and then you’d have been ready to start in June.

    Better tell him you won’t be ready until October or November. There is absolutely no way to even be done with design work by June. Then add in the time to wait for all of the products to be on site.

  • m k
    Original Author
    last month

    The designer in writing told us to contact her four weeks before we were ready to start construction.

  • HU-290654264
    last month
    last modified: last month

    6 months before construction is more like it. You got the brush off then, only you didn’t realize it until now. Turn about was fair play. You couldn’t get cabinets in 4 weeks time if you owned a cabinet shop and were building them yourself. It would take that much time just to get a design appointment at most places. Then there’s 4-6 weeks of design work.

  • m k
    Original Author
    last month

    Yes. We are well aware and have factored in the time constraints. We did notify them back in December for a summer start.

    I can't imagine a business running like that will stay in business for long. We are in a relatively small community and word travels fast.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month
    last modified: last month

    what does the contract specify for 3K?

    when you notified them back in dec, what was their reply? is it written?

    I don't see a big deal in postponing the project 6 months ago. You gave them plenty of notice.

    It took a few weeks to get a response back from the designer but she did say yes, to contact her a few weeks before we were ready to start.


    they agreed to waiting, and then told you to give them a notice 4 weeks prior, you held up your end of the bargain.

    I don't see any fault on your end. it's been over 4 months. You followed their request.


    It's time to contact the owner or someone else in that firm and request your money back, minus the fee for the mood board. (I would NEVER want them on my project now)

    don't know what your contract stated, but sounds like they're in breach. Talk to someone else in charge or let them know you'll be forced into a legal issue to recoup the money you've been charged if you don't get some type of response, refund, or service

    m k thanked Beth H. :
  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
    last month

    I agree with Beth, get a new designer. This firm's non-response is a red flag, and I wouldn't want to have anything more to do with them.

    And you didn't "jump the gum" or "drug your feet." Yikes.

    m k thanked Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
  • freedomplace1
    last month

    I agree, if you have to beg and drag these people to the site, it's not worth it. The vibe is not right. For whatever reasons, it sounds like that collaboration is over. Move on with someone who will be able to see your project through to the end with a positive flow. You have the basic design, and you say you just want "minor changes" at this point, so you are still ahead of the game, and have a good foundation. If you seek to recoup some of the money, that is a personal choice.

    m k thanked freedomplace1
  • chispa
    last month

    Being busy is not an excuse for not getting back to a customer who gave you a deposit. A quick text or email within 48 hours doesn't take that much time or effort, even if to just say you are swamped and will call back in 2 weeks.

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last month

    Do not stay with this designer. Having had a similar path of non communication toward the start we should have walked away. I love our end result but so much added avoidable stress because of communication woes. If they aren’t invested at the start they will never be.

  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I have a kitchen project that was put on hold indefinitely for all of last year due to COVID. We were literally about to start demo on March 1, 2020, but then the shutdown happened. We're now back on track for a May 1 demo date. I am honoring my commitment to these clients to see the project through, even though I've since had a rate increase this year. It's what you do.

    Now, all that said, the design work was completely finished, save a couple of decisions on lighting. Construction documents were complete, and permits have been obtained. In your case, it doesn't sound like much design work was done. So my question is, how have you hired a general contractor when you don't have a design? A moodboard is not a design.

    It's clear this designer isn't going to finish the job. You can decide whether going after her for breach of contract is worth your time. My advice? Don't bother. $3K in the scheme of a full kitchen remodel is not a lot of money for the hassle of taking her to small claims court.

    Find another designer and get the design work done first.

    ETA: formally fire the designer in writing. Most contracts have a clause that states any party can terminate the agreement with X days written notice.

  • herbflavor
    last month

    you should have the contractor you have hired try to get through. If that yields nothing then ask his suggestion for what he wants you to do with the plans and executing them. Where are the plans? The contractor can handle the delay...they usually have lots of work they can juggle. But you want to work with him, and not lose him as that would set you back furthur.

  • m k
    Original Author
    last month

    As an update, they have been responsive. However they told me I am on a "budget conscious" plan. The contract lists schematics as a deliverable but they said they do not mean any CAD drawings, just specifying where furniture and lighting should go. Since it's a kitchen design, that basically just means pendant lighting specification...which we already know will go above the island. For $3.2k, they said that only includes one design plan with two revisions. Anything beyond that they will charge hourly. Is that the going rate for a design board with specifications?

  • m k
    Original Author
    last month

    These are the contract deliverables:


    1. Programming - verifying site and project parameters in detail

    2. Schematic Design Presentation

    3. Two or three additional meetings or shopping as required for the project

    4. Documentation of the design with drawings, general notes, and specifications

    5. Digital Moodboards

  • Helen
    last month

    Have you actually received the deliverables? I ask because I don't understand how you hired a GC unless you had plans in hand with specifications in order for you to obtain bids.


    That said, I don't think you would be able to get a GC starting your project in June even if your designer met with you tomorrow. At least in my experience, a lot of stuff had to be ordered well in advance and since the pandemic inventory is even lower.


    What you need to do is get your kitchen actually designed and stuff ordered. Even with the best planning working with designer who was on board several months prior to even contacting a GC, there were delays in terms of certain items not being delivered in time for that phase - e.g. my hood was not correct and so I had to wait for a new hood and while that occurred, the backsplash couldn't be finished and certain other aspects - and so on. And the tiles themselves took a few months to arrive.


    Deal with the designer - get your design in order - actually order materials or get a sense of when items will be available. Even appliances are in short supply.


    Then deal with the GC - I don't understand how you even hired a GC without having the specifications and plans for him to actually bid on.