Demystifying the Role of the Designer

With this article, the team at Construction Précellence will try to help you to understand the role of the designer in developing your next renovation or construction project in the Greater Montreal Area.

It is often interesting to observe people’s reactions when we tell them that a designer will be involved in the planning of their renovation or construction project. They expect to see extravagant results.

The designer is often erroneously seen as a decorator, or even someone who will blow the budget with outlandish suggestions related to some passing trend.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Above all, the designer is there to lay out the spaces in order to maximize their usefulness in accordance with the client’s tastes and wishes. In many cases, the designer serves to complement and expand upon the work of the architect, the technologist or the architectural technician. With an often limited knowledge of renovation or construction techniques, the designer usually works best once the major architectural lines have been determined. The designer can then work freely and creatively within the architectural limits and constraints of the project.

If not a member of a company that specializes in design-build (or in other words, a company that offers all of the elements of a successful project under one roof), the conscientious designer (and one who wishes to respond properly to the needs of the client) will put together a network of resource persons in a variety of fields, from architects to specialized contractors, and even engineers, if necessary.

The designer should understand and accept the limits of the design field, and not try to accomplish tasks that are best left to other specialists in an attempt to increase the fees. Beware of designers who take on the role of the contractor by using the title of Project Manager. Clients usually have very limited knowledge when it comes to renovation and construction, they are not generally in a position to understand the possible repercussions and consequences. If things go bad, they will have no guarantees, and will have to try to unravel any disputes among the various types of workers, because in practice, they will have to take on the role of the general contractor, with all of the inherent responsibilities. The designer should also stay out of the creative process by not proposing unrealistic layouts with respect to the client’s needs, expectations, desires, and most importantly, budget.

Sometimes, the role of the designer simply consists of confirming and validating the choices made by the clients, without necessarily changing a thing. Significant amounts of money are invested in a renovation or construction project, and it is not worth the risk of ending up with a non-functional layout where the products and accessories are not well suited. If the client is not able to give the designer free reign, a less in-depth consultation is strongly recommended in order to verify that the project is headed in the right direction. Choosing a designer who has received proper academic training is usually preferable.

Good luck with your project!