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After an initial phone conversation with my clients, my two assistants and I first met with the Painters on December 9, when they requested their desire to renovate two different areas of their home. One area of the home was the renovation and reconfiguration of the master bedroom, master bath, large walk-in closet, and a home office space. The other area was the renovation and reconfiguration of their family room, another home office, their daughter's bedroom, and a new bathroom. After discussing my clients' ideas and wishes, my two assistants and I took measurements and photographs, which lasted about 1.5 hours. I explained that I would charge them up to $500 for each area, a conversation and an amount verified by my two assistants who were present. The clients agreed to proceed and requested our design work within a week's time, which we were able to accommodate although an unusually short turn-around time.
I always try to be respectful of a clients' budget, which they mentioned in our initial phone conversation. After several days of hard work, we did initially provide the clients with three different floor plans for each area in their home, a total of 6 AutoCAD floor plans. These plans were based on their budget, their existing electrical, plumbing, architecture, research, functionality, as well as aesthetics.
After the client received their initial plans, we had a follow-up phone conversation, when they expressed their dissatisfaction with all of the plans. I calmly assured them that we would make more revisions, especially since this was just a starting point; and, I would charge them no additional money. By now it was a week before Christmas, but we made these revisions a priority and produced four more Auto CAD drawings. At this point, the clients had a total of 10 AutoCAD floor plans, 5 for each area of the areas of their home. They were very acceptable and accurate floor plans for further discussion or for any contractor to proceed with renovations.
In total, my assistants and I worked over 20 hours, as well as two hours' travel time, and the time spent at their home. I billed them the amount of $1000, roughly 1/3rd of the work we did, in order to appease them and to adhere to our original estimates, as was verified by myself and my assistants. I certainly wasn't making any money on this project.
After I sent my clients an invoice for $1000 ($500 for each area) which was due upon receipt, despite several emails, I did not hear from them nor receive payment for seven weeks. A week after I finally received their payment, they did contact me by email, expressing their disappointment on all 10 of the plans. They asked if I wanted to discuss this further. They also expressed that they thought they would get 3-D drawings, more like HGTV, etc. I did respond by reiterating all the reasons why I proceeded the way I did, and the amount of work that we had done. Despite my best attempts to satisfy their short time frame, and absorbing growing unreimbursed costs on my part, I concluded that I didn't believe that this was a good fit for either one of us to proceed any further.
As do most professional designers, one of the software programs among several that we use, is called AutoCAD, which costs over $6,000. My assistants hold (or about to hold) bachelor degrees in Architectural Design from Chatham University and are trained in the application of this and other software. I've been in interior design for over 25 years. It is this level of professionalism I attempt to bring to a project for the benefit of my client. I am proud of the work we do. Apparently, so are many of my clients that I've had the privilege of serving for over 20 years. I regret the Painters' sentiments despite all of our best efforts. We wish them the very best of luck in their project.
Debra Pacoe Interiors