Just recently, there has been a spike in home renovation-related problems from construction-related accidents like falling bedroom ceilings to construction delays and unsatisfactory workmanship. In this blog, I would like to analyze how the recent Interior Design accreditation scheme could possibly solve the present renovation woes.
However, I will not be touching much on the reno problem as there are tons of articles on the web that covers these topics, just to give a clear example, a comprehensive writeup from Channel News Asia InFocus: “it was a nightmare” – Why is renovation such a minefield for homeowners and Straits Times: CASE issues alert against 3 renovation contractors after getting complaints over uncompleted works are both good articles that expose problems about the current state of the renovation industry in Singapore.
To start with, way back in 2014, I wrote a trending blog on Linkedin, The Inconvenient Truth, that covers the need for regulation and accreditation. It was answered in 2018 when SIDS (Society of Interior Designers Singapore) set in motion the groundwork for the establishment of the Interior Design Accreditation in Singapore. I know for a fact how difficult it is to create the framework for a task as complex as this, being a council member back then. I see how the committee in charge has worked tirelessly to realize this objective, I also felt that this is the best way for the Singapore Interior Design Industry to move forward and in 2020 eventually, it did. The initiative was launched by Minister Indranee Rajah of the Prime Minister’s Office during the SIDS gala on Dec 3 2020. This year (2022) was the roll-out of the SIDAC (Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council) which was commissioned by the Singapore Design Council.
Now, the BIG question is how the accreditation of Interior Design practitioners helps in being the catalyst for change in improving the current situation in the design and renovation market. My thoughts.
How will it benefit the Designers?
For me, acquiring the accreditation should be a designer’s goal, especially for those who are fresh and just entering the workforce, like for other countries there are licensure examinations to bridge the gap between education and profession. Singapore now has accreditation to achieve almost the same goal with CPD points and mentorship programmes necessary to educate and train designers on the latest trends, technologies, and policies in the industry.
The qualification process to get this accreditation also assures the members that most if not all the designers are highly trained, qualified, and educated professionals in the field. Unlike before it’s a free for all market, even individuals based on experience are thrown out there to do design and planning if you know how to use software like Autocad, SketchUp and 3DS max you can already freelance for contractors and homeowners to get the job done.
There are also ala-carte online Interior Design courses that offer certificates to those who wish to have a career in ID quickly. This not only degrades the profession and undermines the need for formal education but also undervalues the designer’s worth. So gone were the days where IDs can charge for design fees and time-based professional services to customers. These fees are the first ones to be scraped during negotiations or when customers ask for further discounts.
In my opinion, accreditation can bring back the glory days by charging a premium for professional services rendered by duly accredited interior design professionals.
Lastly, accreditation also gives an edge to those early adopters to feel confident and honoured that they are part of an organization that safeguards professionalism and maintains a high-quality standard of service to its clients. I’m sure there will be more benefits along the way, so I encourage readers of this blog to share more.
How will it benefit the Contractors?
I have spoken to a few contractors lately, and they welcome this initiative as a fresh new start for the renovation and fit-out industry in Singapore. It’s like at last they now have a guideline for who to hire. An accredited Interior Designer professional not only raises the standard of their company but also gives them an insight into best industry practices.
On the other hand, contractors can also gain by having confidence in marketing their company by employing accredited Interior Designers to raise the standard of service and give a level of assurance to the customers that they are legit.
An accredited Interior Designer will provide the necessary balance between the contractor and the customer. Designers are trained to embrace the quality of their work and ensure that everything is followed according to plans and specifications. This will eliminate workmanship issues and creates a win-win situation for both parties.
How will it Benefit the Customers?
This will surely be a sign of relief to the customers knowing that there are already guardrails in place to ensure that there is already an accredited professional overseeing the project in general. There will be reputations at stake so now it’s not all about the money but also credibility.
Trust and confidence are the keys to making this work for both parties, Once the customer starts accepting and embracing this accreditation initiative the more it will benefit them in the long term. Mutual respect between designers and customers is needed for the success of a project and once customers feel that the interior designers are accredited professional practitioners and not just freelancers, the more they will respect their ideas and opinions. Take for example doctors and lawyers, we look up to them with utmost recognition and even pay them by the hour or per visit just to get their advice. I foresee that Interior Designers will be treated this way if they carry themselves well and with utmost professionalism.
To answer the question of whether accreditation is the answer to Singapore’s renovation woes. I can say YES with certainty because this for me is like a gap that bridges designers, contractors, and customers together to achieve best industry practices and attain a professional outcome all throughout the 4C process (Concept-Creation-Construction-Completion).
Like Architects, accredited IDs will be a central figure to oversee the broad 4C process, ensuring the quality of the work and taking responsibility for the output. This will be a huge task for accredited IDs but the ones that merit good compensation if implemented and communicated properly.
Lastly, as more challenges emerge like the recent pandemic, rising inflation (the price of materials included), supply chain issues and manpower shortage, the entire industry will be even more susceptible to problems brought about by these forces. Everyone will have the tendency to want to take advantage of each other resulting in an increase in renovation-related problems year on year. It is now timely and relevant to get a professional and accredited interior designer to oversee and strike a balance with all stakeholders to ensure a successful handover of the project.
Do you think I left out on other benefits? Leave your comments and suggestions below.
James Paul Pilande, Accredited Interior Designer (Class-1) and Editor-in-chief, The Office Designer.com
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