I’ve had this conversation—or some variation of it—many times with potential clients.
Client: “So, my brother-in-law’s wife’s sister is a carpenter. So we’re going to want to use her for the built-in cabinets. She does great work, shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
Now, I am not trying to say that the tradesperson they are suggesting isn’t professional, talented or good at what they do. They might be all of those things and more. But it goes well beyond that when a designer is choosing which tradespeople to work with. There are a whole slew of reasons why working with an outside trade is not ideal when you are organizing a large-scale design project.
Today, I am going to break down why working with a designer’s preferred trades produces better results, and how an outside trade can oftentimes throw a wrench in the works.
As with a lot of things in the design industry, relationships play a key role in how a project comes to fruition. And the benefit that comes with working alongside trades that your designer has used in the past is just that—they have worked together in the past.
Because the trades will be familiar with the designer and the way they work, there is less back and forth—the tradespeople already know what is expected of them. Overall, there is less room for error because they have executed projects together and have already worked out any kinks in their relationship.
I’ve spent years building out strong relationships with tradespeople and because of this, we work together like a well-oiled machine. My trades understand every part of my process from initial consultation to expected installation etiquette.
When working with a new trade, there are expectations that may be missed across the board. Partnering with my own trades eliminates a lot of these issues and makes for seamless production, execution, and installation of a project.
This may seem like a silly question but not all tradespeople are professionals. If you are recommending an outside trade, it is important to ensure they are able to work on the same level as your designer and the rest of their trades.
Ask yourself, are they able to work with a fully functional team on a large scale project? Can they read professional drawings? Do they have the experience to perform at the calibre that your designer expects? If you answer no, or are unsure about the answers to any of these questions, you should consider if they are truly a good fit for your project.
If we go back to my introduction, often when a client wants to hire an outside trade it is because there is some kind of familial connection. Point blank, hiring and working with family is not usually a good idea. There is a myriad of reasons as to why mixing family and business can muddle the relationship.
Beyond that, if you are hiring a family member, you need to make sure they are committed to the project. Side favours and discounted work often becomes deprioritized over paid work and this can cause delays.
Make sure if you are hiring family, that you have the right expectations and deadlines for the project outlined.
A designer knows that the logistical side of the project is in good hands when working with their established trades. A large-scale design project is like a big game of Tetris—each tradesperson is a block and together they fit together to make a project work flawlessly.
Efficiency comes with the logistics designers put in place and a trade that they are unfamiliar with is a Tetris block they’ve never seen before that they need to fit in quickly to keep the project running.
At Dima Ahmad Interiors, we always try our best to work with our clients. If they are adamant on having their own trades, we need to approve them beforehand—we will interview all outside tradespeople to ensure they meet our requirements. If we find that they aren’t the right fit, we will communicate that to our clients.
Finally, if a client chooses to use an outside trade most design firms will charge an additional fee. This is to take into account the additional time the designer will need to spend training the trade to work within their processes.
I believe using your designer’s tradespeople is the best choice for all design projects—chemistry and history alone is enough to make a project successful.
If you are really set on having your own trade join your design project, I highly recommend speaking to your designer beforehand and doing a deep dive into the tradesperson.
All my best,