I want to consider using this designer, but. . .

msl511January 31, 2013

So there's this designer I want to talk to about my kitchen renovation. Because my project will include my LR and front hall and, while we're at it, I could use a little advice on my finished basement, I'm trying to find someone whose expertise extends beyond the kitchen. That is, I'm assuming that a KD at a kitchen/bath place won't work, because it's not their job to help me decorate my living room. Anyway, I got the name of a designer from another designer whose stuff I liked on houzz.com, but who doesn't work in my area (ie, not from someone who has actually hired him).

I first emailed him 1/3. Eventually he made an appointment to come to the house (in the NYC suburbs) on Saturday 1/12. A couple of days before that, he emailed to say he wouldn't be able to make it because he had just got permission to work over the weekend on a project he's finishing up in NYC. (That makes sense. Co-op boards tend to have strict rules about when certain types of work can be done.) Could he reschedule until the following Saturday?

Good to see he's committed to his current project and I do realize things come up, so I say yes and ask if he'd be available during the week, since I am.

He responds yes, he could see me late in the week. I email back asking him to let me know when he's available. (I figure his schedule is busier than mine, which is pretty open that week.)

The weekend passes, as do Monday and Tuesday. It's now Wednesday of the week on which he said he'd see me late in the week. I email to ask what's up with his schedule. He emails back the next day that he's sorry, his schedule for the week got made without him and he won't be able to see me on Saturday, either, because he's got to go upstate for an unexpected funeral and won't be back until Sunday.

A few emails back and forth and we agree on the Wednesday after the funeral weekend (ie, yesterday). He's blocking out a lot of time for me. He's scheduled to come at 11 and will stay as long as it takes. Four hours, if that's what's needed (I've said my son gets home from school at 3 and it's preferable but not required that I be done by then.)

Tuesday morning he emails to confirm the appointment and also to ask for 10-15 leeway on arrival time in case he misses the exit. (I've given him my address and directions weeks ago.) Why might he miss the exit? Because he doesn't have a GPS.

Tuesday night he emails to say he's sorry, he's got to cancel, he has a terrible nearly flu-like cold and he needs to stay home on Wednesday, he'll be in touch Thursday.

It's now just after 6 on Thursday and I haven't heard from him.

On it's own, almost every excuse sounds plausible. Suddenly getting permission to work in a NYC co-op makes sense. Funerals happen. People suddenly come down with hideous viruses.

But "my schedule got made for me?" And it often takes him a few days to respond to an email from me, where I tend to think that I should hear back from someone within 24 hours unless there's an emergency.

It doesn't matter how fabulous his work or reasonable his price, this isn't going to work, is it?

I'm actually faintly annoyed with him at this point. Assuming he ever gets back to me, would it be wrong to let him come, see what I can learn from him, call some references just in case this is all a giant fluke, but assume I'm not going to hire him?

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Your first call was back on 1/3 and you still haven't met with him? If it's this bad before you've started working with him, what makes you think it will get better once you've hired him? I've found that people are on their best behavior when you first meet (the honeymoon phase) and it goes downhill once you've signed a contract and they have your money. That's when appts are missed and excuses are made. If that's already happening . . . . I'd suggest moving on and finding someone who wants your business. Just my 2 cents. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:52PM
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I think you have wasted enough time on him.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I'd call his references right now and point blank ask them about his time management skills. If he doesn't own his own shop and works for a shop owner, then he may NOT make his own schedule. And if he's getting net recommendations, he may be very very busy and just not be used to juggling an active schedule like that.

In other words, he's at two strikes. If the references mention this type of behavior, then he's out. If they are glowing about him, you've got a tougher decision ahead.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:15PM
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I laughed out loud at funeral. Yeah, everybody in the home renovation industry sure has a lot of dead relatives. Expect four to bite it on every project.

Move along.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Marcolo, I once had a contractor whose mom died twice. Ooops. Tough to keep those lies straight.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:49PM
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I would have said see ya after him not being able to see you a week after your first call. Find someone local. You are valuable to them because their business comes from your recommendations

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:15PM
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I'm using an interior designer in my area on a consult as needed basis. Believe me, small "emergencies" will crop up (i.e., grout the wrong color)where you will need someone who can pop in for quick consults here and there. I paid consult fees and interviewed three designers to get the right person. What I learned was that an ASID designer,someone who has a four year degree and is in your area, is your best bet. As the other GardenWebers have already told you, you should now weed out candidate #1. His pattern of behavior is saying loud and clear that he does not want your job at this time. I got the same behavior pattern from someone who sells custom cabinets. They keep making up excuses until you finally get the message.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:27PM
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The original designer is who you want. Ask for a second recommendation.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:35PM
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narrow your project's focus.You are making it harder by just adding thisnthat into it. do the kitchen or do the other things and depending on what happens to the infrastructure and adjacent walls,[hall and LR?] do the kitchen last. Hall, living room, and downstairs modifications would come first,in my opinion..... as the group or person doing those areas performs their work,you can ascertain if anyone knows a kitchen team,or if this team can do the kitchen for you....you'll get information anyway.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:06PM
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cut him loose. if he cannot show up for a preliminary discussion what will it be like when you are really working together. trust your gut.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:30PM
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