Designing to a Budget
Recently we were asked to describe what our typical commercial interior designs end up costing our customer for finishes and lighting. We reached out to a general contractor customer asking them if our work with them over the years resulted in any useable budget averages that we could share with this inquiring new customer. Their response was very helpful:
“In our work with r.o.i. Design, no two projects look the same and seldom use the same finishes or details so it would be hard to quote ‘an average’ square foot cost. We have seen r.o.i. Design respond to very budget-driven projects, but they can also deliver competitive grade interior design.”
They went further to describe budgeting of an interior in a very understandable way, “When a customer asks about average square foot interior costs, we ask them what they think a typical bag of groceries cost. The response is the realization that a bag of groceries can range widely in cost depending on what is in the bag.”
And while that vague response doesn’t satisfy the question of what an interior may cost, it does help put a disclaimer to any budget number given before a qualified scope of the interior is created.
The ideal process to budgeting an interior:
- Confirm the square footage being built or remodeled. Confirm the type of space and it’s intended use.
- Confirm the “scope of the interior finishes”. What will be carpet, what will be resilient flooring, what will be tile flooring, what will be painted, what will be wallcovering, etc?
- Determine the quality level of finish expected, ask what other spaces that are already built describe the desired outcome.
- Using square footage numbers and consulting with the General Contractor, multiply typical costs (by the level of finish) by area.
This process results in scope and a budget that can be used for the basis of design. In many cases, the first calculations require revisions for a variety of reasons.
r.o.i. Design’s by-line is “Budget, Brand, and Beauty”. We aim to deliver them all, and in that order.
The benefit of starting with the budget and scope is that interior design decisions are less likely to need changes, creating less disappointment and fewer fees.
r.o.i. Design respects the team approach in the design-build process where the architect, general contractor and interior designer work together to agree on the scope of the work and related budgets.
New leadership, new energy and new direction at Mars Hill created a desire to update their facility’s 38,000 square feet children’s ministry. More than 500 children from infants through 10-year-olds attend the ministry each Sunday. Their nursery, preschool and elementary school spaces were in need of refreshing. This meant new flooring, new paint, updated lighting and new cabinetry, as well as any needed repairs.
The redesign was intended to simplify, warm and organize the spaces to help member families entrust their children to Mars Hill. r.o.i. Design saw the journey, discovery and comfort of the spaces as key to the success of the redesign. Mars Hill will also be adding their own graphic and signage design as well as decorative elements to complete the look and feel.
Mars Hill had a budget, based on generous donations and operational planning, but it wasn’t clear if they could make the needed changes within their budget or schedule. r.o.i Design worked with the leadership to solicit contractors who were members or affiliates of Mars Hill, as well as call in other sympathetic trades to make the remodel possible to meet the goals.
We acknowledge the efforts and donations of:
- Facilities and Administrative staff of Mars Hill
- Jacobsen Painting
- Kenowa Plumbing
- Meekhof Electric
- Floor Covering Engineers and Shaw Carpets
- Pinnacle Construction
Over 10 years ago, r.o.i. Design worked with Mars Hill to create interiors in their new space, a vacant shopping mall in Grandville, Michigan. We are grateful for the opportunity to help them again, not only with interior design, but project management of the remodel as well.
For more information about Mars Hill, visit their website, MarsHill.org
So much of what r.o.i. Design does is deliver the products that complete the design. We want to fulfill the promise we make during the design process. That is a full-time job for a patient, persistent, inquisitive and organized person.
Ronda Geyer joined us this year in the role of Products and Procurement Manager. She describes her job as the “Manager of Stuff”. She comes to r.o.i. Design with experience in product sales, interior design, landscape design and project management. Her challenge is to juggle the totally unique nature of each job and their corresponding variety of suppliers and vendors. No two jobs are alike, nor use the same resources, or have the same budget.
“Last month I was shipping product to Virginia, Indiana and Michigan,” Ronda described. “I want to make our customers happy and we work very hard not to disappoint them, which most often comes down to managing expectations and real time communications. I am getting better and better at it.”
It isn’t easy to be cool. And hospitality design is a cutting edge market. A national hotel brand knows design and technology are key factors in property improvement plans.
Properties that want to maintain their status with a national hotel brand undergo regular inspections to make sure their property meets the standards of the brand. During the recession a few years ago, there was some leniency in compliance, but since 2011 national brands are less likely to look the other way. There has been a conscious attrition of properties by the savvy big names who know that they have to compete in each market by scrutinizing and discerning customers.
Today’s customers are technically plugged-in. They are informed and that doesn’t give a hotel property much wiggle room when it comes to meeting expectations. National brand websites promote an experience that needs to be delivered whether in Anchorage or Miami.
Hotels that want to establish a relationship with a national hotel brand have a rigorous review. Existing hotels that haven’t updated their properties in the last 3-5 years are being challenged by the costs related to required updates.
The areas that challenge the existing property and could be higher priorities on a PIP (Property Improvement Plan) include:
- From registration to check in, in-room stay and checkout, the customer expects to control their experience through their online capabilities.
- In-room TV’s are monitors with streaming TV, and customer access to their business and personal sites needs to be immediate.
- Customers want the ability to make their home for a night meet their needs. Whether that means writing a business report, taking along a pet, eating in, exercising in or conducting a virtual business meeting.
- If properties haven’t updated since 2011, they are faced with changes in customer expectations in lighting, bedding, finishes and furnishings (in that order).
- Not that long ago the pool and fitness center was a “must have”, and while still preferred for general business and personal accommodations, it is out-ranked by giving the guest enough room in their room to be able to exercise. Resort hotels still need fitness centers, pools and spas.
- While today’s guest doesn’t need a real front desk, they do need at least the ability to find a small meal, a beverage, the equivalent of a local concierge or “helper”.
Hotel developers who are building today, find the requirements by a national hotel brand to be both more specific and strict, but also more consultative. Brands are very eager to have strategically placed and built properties and those requirements come with costs, so most hotel companies want to appear to be and in most cases, be helpful.
r.o.i. Design is seeing an emerging trend in national hotel brands that further separates those properties from the boutique hotels and the resort hotels. The boutique and resort hotels are able to provide unique style and services based on a developer or regional preference. Customers are discerning and are deciding if their stay requires a national brand, a boutique hotel or a resort experience.
With the increase of new hotel and resort projects, as well as robust remodeling, owners and construction project managers are re-examining how they fulfill the millwork and casegood category of their building projects.
r.o.i. Design describes millwork as casegoods that are fixed to the architecture. Casegoods (typically described in the furniture category) and millwork are amortized differently on the balance sheet and quite often supplied by different sources. This area of procurement is a challenge but also an opportunity.
Aside: The debate about buying US or non-US continues, but the more foreign manufacturers merge their offering with state side distribution, the point of manufacturing is becoming less of a political, economic issue. We all need each other, globally to make our businesses work, within reason. Logistics and the chain of ownership continues to be the defining component to value and control.
r.o.i. Design can contribute to this dialogue with these observations:
- Understanding: When the customer understands that the total cost of a product includes, freight, handling, staging and delivery-the criteria may change. The age old mantra, “you can have 2 of the 3 – 1. design, 2. price or 3. schedule” still holds true.
- Flexibility: And when the project team is willing to look at qualified suppliers outside their list of typical vendors, value can be realized.
- Cost Analysis: Overseas products may show up with a reduced unit price, but the cost and risk to get those products to the site, as designed and on time is not always as manageable. We see this situation being improved incrementally and by situation, but as of October 2015, we don’t make price or lead time promises on overseas product without considerable confirmation and agreement.
- New Materials and Technology: While process and manufacturing styles for US manufacturers are consistent, their emerging ability to use new materials and technology are offering a value that competes with the “all in costs” of overseas manufactures.
- Design-Assist: When project budgeting can take advantage of qualified suppliers, early in the process, value is realized. Sharing the designing of products with the makers of the products only makes sense to our customers.
In the last few years, r.o.i. Design has specified “new materials” with great success.
- Textured melamine panel products offer a huge advantage for larger projects.
- The big names in laminate (Formica, Wilsonart, Pionite and Nevamar) have done there homework and laminate, an affordable option, is becoming a more viable option to wood or stone in today’s designs.
- And the combined use of solid surface veneer with laminates has created options for look and feel not available even a year ago.
- Upholstered casegoods are a viable option. Technology and design has created a category of fabric that defies wear, responds to robust cleaning and is easily replaceable. Fabrics are merging with hard surface options.
r.o.i. Design has it roots in manufacturing for hospitality and while we only have a sample shop today, our interest, relationships and experience in casegoods and millwork continue to bring value to our customers.
We negotiate with our customers and their contractors to determine how we best can bring value to their millwork and casegood procurement.