In-House Interior Design

            One downside of having an in-house interior design person or small group within the office staff for the high-end custom homebuilder is that some of the architectural and all of interior design decisions are managed from within the homebuilding company.

            The homebuilder then owns the myriad of RFI’s (requests for information) which are now internal within the company staff and cannot be “farmed-out” to an outside, independent interior designer “of record” to answer and resolve.

            If not addressed in an organized, systematic, and timely manner these RFI’s internally circulated can quickly snowball into questions and issues that delay the construction operations in the field.

            The standard, arms-length arrangement of owner/architect/general contractor divides up the varied duties, roles, and responsibilities into relatively clear lines of demarcation. 

            Questions from the construction as requests for missing information in the plans and specifications that arise during the course of the construction are handled through RFI’s from the general contractor to the architect and/or structural engineer, for example.

            These RFI’s are then individually monitored for timely response by the general contractor. 

            RFI’s which have not been answered that might adversely affect the construction schedule are communicated to the owner, often during the weekly owner/builder meeting.  The owner then contacts the appropriate design professional regarding the particular question or issue.    

            The point here is that if the owner, being the spec homebuilder and/or custom homebuilder, is the party generating new architectural information by moving walls, changing interior layouts, moving interior doors, etc., and thereby making all of the interior design decisions, then a “circular firing squad” reality is created.

            In this arrangement, the builder would be sending RFI’s to itself, which in practice becomes the reality.

            If RFI’s are by definition always discovered in the reactive mode through questions unearthed during the course of the construction, and these questions belong to the builder rather than to outside consultants such as the architect or interior designer, then the builder generating these questions and problems through their own in-house decisions must have an adequate response mechanism in-place internally to be able to react in a timely manner.  

            The procedure of sending RFI’s to the appropriate design consultant and expecting prompt replies no longer exists for the builder co-opting design decisions through in-house interior designers and owner’s changes. 

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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